MBB: Huskers Fall to Aggies 66-55

Texas A&M held the Huskers to 31.4 percent shooting from the floor and kept NU's inside attack in check, as the Aggies knocked off Nebraska, 66-55, Saturday afternoon at Reed Arena.

With the loss, the Huskers fell to 7-7 in league play and 17-10 on the year, while A&M remained tied with Colorado for fourth place in the league standings with an 8-6 Big 12 mark. The Aggies improved to 18-7 overall with its fifth straight win. The Huskers still remain in the upper half of the conference standings in sixth place with two games remaning after Saturday's outcome.

Freshman Jamel White led the Huskers with 16 points, but hit just 4-of-13 from the floor while Jason Dourisseau just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Nebraska hit 42.9 percent from the field in the second frame, but A&M got an early double-figure lead as it held the Huskers to just 4-of-23 shooting in the opening 20 minutes.

Nebraska missed its first nine shots from the floor and posted just one point in the first 7:58 of the game as A&M jumped out to an 11-1 lead on a Chris Walker jumper with 12:29 left in the first period. Walker scored three straight baskets, the last of which pushed the Aggies lead to 16-5 lead.

The Huskers, who played 16 minutes of the first half without center Aleks Maric, who had three fouls, scored their first basket of the game with a White floater in the lane that rolled in at 10:00 on the clock. Nebraska then hit just one of its next six shots and finished the half hitting just 17.4 percent from the field.

Despite the poor shooting, Nebraska stayed close in the contest by hitting 11-of-15 attempts from the charity stripe, including seven over the final five minutes to cut the lead to 27-21 at the intermission. A&M hit 41.7 percent from the field in the opening period, but got to the foul line just five times while getting outrebounded by the Huskers 21-16.

The Huskers opened the second period hitting four of their first six attempts from the floor and used a Maric dunk off a nice entry pass to cut the lead to three, 33-30, at the 14:25 mark.

Joseph Jones, A&M's sophomore big man, answered with a dunk of his own at the other end to start a 10-1 run that included a jumper and 3-pointer from Acie Law and a trey from Dominique Kirk that put the Aggies ahead 43-31 with just just over 10 minutes remaining.

Following Marcus Walker's driving layup, Jones added another basket to give A&M a 45-33 lead before picking up his fourth foul with 8:48 to play with the Aggies up 45-35. Nebraska could not capitalize with Jones on the bench, as NU held just a 4-2 advantage with him out of the game.

Antanas Kavaliauskas put the Aggies over the top as he scored on a layup off an offensive rebound and then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put A&M ahead 50-39 with 6:20 to play. A&M then took its biggest lead of the game at 55-41 after Law was fouled on consecutive layups, converting the second for a traditional three-point play.

Dourisseau cut the lead to 55-44 on a three-point play of his own with just under five minutes remaining, and A&M went ahead 57-44 before an 8-2 run, fueled by a 3-pointer by Dourisseau and three free throws from Charles Richardson, helped get the Huskers back into single digits, 59-52.

That was as close as Nebraska could get as A&M got a basket and three free throws from Law and a pair of charity shots from Walker to ice the game.

Nebraska returns to Lincoln for its final home game of the regular season on Wednesday, March 1, when the Huskers play host to Kansas State at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers and Wildcats will tip off at 7:05 p.m. in a game that will be seen in Nebraska on FSN Midwest, and can be heard on the Pinnacle Sports Network.

Post Game Quotes & Notes

Nebraska Head Coach Barry Collier:

"Those guys (Texas A&M) were very, very aggressive out there today. It really took us out of our offense. Their crowd was very helpful with the way they play defense. Once they got going with their pressure, we had a tough time getting things to go for us. We had chances at different times, but we couldn't get it going today. They are very aggressive defensively and do a good job of overplaying the ball. We were not as prepared for that, obviously, and that is my responsibility. But I want to give them credit for their defense. Billy (Gillispie) really scouted us well. It was hard to find ways to attack their pressure. We have to handle ourselves better than we did today to win. Acie Law is a great player. It is helpful for a team to have a guy who can score like Acie can and also run the offense."

Texas A&M guard Acie Law:

"It feels great to win. We always said in conference when things weren't going for us that we would not quit and that we would keep playing hard. We knew things would eventually start to go our way, and we are excited to have won five straight. With guys like Chris (Walker), Dominique (Kirk), and Antanas (Kavaliauskus) playing well it makes it easier on Joe (Jones) and myself. They have really stepped up for us the past few games hitting shots and making plays. Nebraska had a tough time getting shots to fall at the beginning. We weren't letting them breathe, and once we got going we just kept the pressure up. They are a great team though, and had a tough game shooting the ball. We will go into the Texas game like all the others. It is a rivalry game, but it is just a regular Big 12 Conference game. Every game down this stretch is big. We try not to think about the NCAA Tournament and those things. Yeah, it is our goal, but we just want to focus on the game before us and keep this streak going. Today we attacked their inside very well and got (Aleks) Maric in foul trouble and then just kept attacking. Joe and Antanas do a great job of getting position and we do a great job of getting them the ball."

Texas A&M forward Chris Walker:

"In the locker room at the beginning of conference coach highlighted that some teams were shooting like 50% against us. We take things like that personal and we decided to man up a little bit. We have just picked it up and it has been working for us. Me hitting shots really helps out Acie and Joe. The defense has to respect me and come out a little bit getting more room for them to work. It is great for me to help ease their burden a little bit."

Texas A&M Head Coach Billy Gillispie:

"It was a great win for us against a really good team. This was as well-coached a team as

you will play. They have a great post presence and great shooters. Nebraska is without a question an NCAA Tournament team, so this was a great win for us. If we win enough then we will get in the tournament. If we get in, if they let us in the tournament, we will play well. We are good enough to be in there, but we will see if they let us in. We, all along, knew we were going to play 16 games and all my teams are focused on fundamentals and defense. We are designed to gain steam for the tournaments (conference and post-season). We have confidence because we play together defensively. We are as tough a team as you can be. We are playing our best right now, but we still are not good enough for our upcoming challenges. Our conference doesn't get respect. We are worthy of playing in the tournament, but I am not politicking. We have to do more to get that chance though. Our next game against Texas will not change anything. We have great respect for every team in this conference. We get ready for every game the same; one at a time. Our players have bought into what we have been doing and know we have to play 16 games the best we can and that we will add them up in the end. Our players have believed all along in our coaches, and the coaches have believed in our players. We have stuck with it since our start. It is not easy to win in this league, but we don't worry about what people are saying about us. We worry about each other and have a great mindset in how we approach practices and games. I knew we would fight every game and if you do that it usually works out in the end. I will tell you one thing. There is probably not a 7-6 conference team in the country with the fan support we got tonight. They have been great for us all year and that is just a testament to the progress of our program. I am glad to see that our fans are taking it one game at a time with us."

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