The win was Texas A&M's first tournament victory since 1980, and set up a showdown with fourth seed LSU on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"I don't think a whole lot of people around the country think we are a powerhouse program, so if we win a couple of games, it's going to surprise a lot of people," said Texas A&M senior forward Chris Walker.
The stifling Aggie defense was in control all night, holding Syracuse to 39.2 percent shooting percentage and 4-of-19 from the 3-point line.
Texas A&M completely shut down heralded Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara, who finished the game 0-for-6 from the field, adding two points and three turnovers. The leader of the Orange failed to score until he completed two free throws with less than a minute remaining in the half.
The name of the game for the Aggie offense was three pointers. A&M was 7-of-20 from 3-point range, with Walker notching three treys from the perimeter. The dual combination of Josh Carter and Walker was 6-of-13 from 3-point range.
Guard Acie Law led the scoring for the Aggies with 23 points, including a dozen in the final 2:25 of the contest. He finished 7-of-17 from the field, adding seven rebounds and five assists. "We expect to put ourselves in situations toward the end of the game to win," said Law. "We have the confidence to beat anybody."
A&M also controlled the boards, a surprising statistic considering they were one of the worst rebounding teams in the Big 12 this season. A&M out-rebounded Syracuse 38-35 and had 14 offensive rebounds for 15 second-chance points.
"We enjoy opening people's eyes and doing things that they don't expect us to do," said Walker.
After Thursday night's win on a national stage, the basketball world is starting to take note of Billy Gillispie's team at that football school down in Texas.
"I don't know how we do it," Gillispie said. "We're just going to keep on trying hard."
The Aggies tournaments run and dream season continues on Saturday at 4:50 p.m. in Jacksonville when they face off against the Tigers from LSU. A Sweet 16 berth is on the line.
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