Aggies Top Auburn in SEC Tourney Opener, 71-62Sports Thursday, March 14th, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Elston Turner scored 22 points even with his broken left pinkie wrapped up in a splint, and the Texas A&M Aggies beat Auburn 71-62 Wednesday night in their first Southeastern Conference tournament game.
Texas A&M (18-14) came to the tournament having lost four of five. But the 11th-seeded Aggies drew the SEC’s last-place team in Auburn, and now they will play sixth-seeded Missouri on Thursday night in a matchup of the former Big 12 teams.
Alex Caruso added 14 points, and Kourtney Roberson and Fabyon Harris had 11 apiece for Texas A&M.
The Auburn Tigers (9-23) wrap up the season losing their last 10 games and now have lost 11 straight in Nashville. Coach Tony Barbee has yet to win a tournament game in his first three trips. Frankie Sullivan scored a team-high 19 points, and Chris Denson added 15 points.
Turner showed no ill effects early from his broken finger that kept him out of the Aggies’ regular-season finale. He hit three of his first four shots and had nine points by halftime. The senior guard said after the game his finger did hurt at times.
”It’s my last year, I’ve got to play with it, no matter what,” Turner said. ”My teammates did a great job just telling me to stay composed and to fight through it. That’s what I did; my teammates were the ones that kept me going.”
The Aggies both outshot and outrebounded Auburn. They hit 44.9 percent (22 of 49) compared to 40 percent (20 of 50), and they had a 9-0 scoring edge off second-chance points while outrebounding Auburn 36-24.
Both teams started shooting the ball well, and Auburn hit three 3-pointers, the last by Noel Johnson for a 13-10 lead with 16:15 to go. Turner answered with a 3 and a jumper to put the Aggies ahead to stay with 15:14 left. That was the start of 15 straight points by Texas A&M, the last a layup by Young for the Aggies’ biggest lead of the half at 24-10 with 11:28 remaining.
Auburn went nearly seven minutes without a bucket before Sullivan ended the drought with a jumper. The Aggies led by as much as 11 down the stretch, but the Tigers scored the last six points to pull within 34-27 at halftime, the last on a fast-break layup by Wallace.
The Tigers kept whittling away at Texas A&M’s lead. When Denson stole the ball and scored on a layup, he finished off the three-point play at the line to tie it up at 47 with 11:16 to go. Harris put the Aggies back up 50-47 with a 3-pointer, the start of a 9-2 run capped by a jumper from Roberson to push the lead to 56-49 with 6:13 left.
Auburn couldn’t get closer than four the rest of the way, the last when Denson made a three-point play with 33.9 seconds left. The Aggies finished off the win by hitting 11 of 12 at the free-throw line in the final 1:48.
Texas A&M Men’s Basketball
Texas A&M 71, Auburn 62
March 13, 2013 ● Bridgestone Arena ● Nashville, Tennessee
SEC Tournament - First Round
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
● With the win Texas A&M improved to 18-14 on the year.
● Auburn saw its season come to an end at 9-23.
● The all-time series between the schools stands at 5-2 in favor of the Aggies.
● Texas A&M won its conference tournament opener for the fourth straight season and fifth time in the last six years.
● Clutch shooting at the stripe was key for A&M in the victory. The Aggies hit 13 of their last 14 free throws, including a stretch of 10 in a row.
● After Auburn tied the game at 47 on a three-point play, the Aggies went on a 9-2 run over a 6-minute span to retake momentum.
● The Aggies hit seven of their first 10 shots of the game, including three of their first four from behind the arc.
● Texas A&M held Auburn without a bucket for nearly seven minutes to open up a 24-13 first-half lead with a 14-0 run.
● A&M started the combination of Fabyon Harris, Elston Turner, Alex Caruso, Kourtney Roberson and Ray Turner for the sixth time this year and first since its last game in the city of Nashville, Feb. 16, at Vanderbilt.
● Senior guard Elston Turner scored a game-high 22 points and is now four points shy of reaching 1,000 in his A&M career (Turner played the first two seasons of his career at Washington). Turner reached the 20-point plateau for the 10th time this year and fifth time in the last 6 games. He hit double figures for the 13th straight game and 29th time this season.
● Freshman guard Alex Caruso tied a season high with 14 points on the night and dished out six assists, two shy of his season high. Caruso hit double figures for the fifth time this season and second in last three games. Sporting a 5.3 point per game season average, Caruso is averaging 10.3 points over his last three contests.
● RS sophomore forward Kourtney Roberson had 11 points to hit double figures for the second straight game.
● A&M will face No. 6-seed Missouri in the tournament’s second round on Thursday at 9 p.m. … The game will be televised by the SEC Network.
Story courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics
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