Jordan, Aggies continue to improve

After two regular season games, Aggie freshman DeAndre Jordan and the Aggies are starting to look more and more like a top-15 team. They'll try to show more improvement tonight against an aggressive UTEP squad. Aggie Websider has the full rundown for tonight's game.

If the last two games are any indication, the Aggies are looking more and more like the No. 14 team in the nation. But head coach Mark Turgeon isn't convinced yet.

"I haven't seen the rest of the country yet, but knowing what I've seen in the past, I don't think we're at No. 14 yet," he said. "Defensively we may be, but we're not consistent enough on offense. Guys have got to play with more confidence offensively."

At times, the Aggies will run the secondary break and other times not. At times the Aggies are able to come up with key shots, at other times, they go ice cold.

But offense wasn't a problem in the final 13 minutes of the first half on Tuesday night, as the Aggies went on a 31-7 run to take a 20-point half-time lead and they never looked back. The Aggies had a similar run (24-6) against McNeese State in the season opener during the same stretch of the game after a slow start.

"The last couple of games we've come out real slow," said A&M forward Joseph Jones. "Tonight we focused on coming out better, coach stressed that all week."

One guy who came out of the gate strong was seven-foot freshman DeAndre Jordan, who scored a career-high 12 points and posted a career-high eight rebounds against Oral Roberts, much to Turgeon's delight.

"I've been making fun of him because he can't get any rebounds," Turgeon said. "I told him he was going to set a record for the fewest rebounds by a seven-footer for a season. He told me he was going to get 20 tonight but he got 8 in 23 minutes. I was proud of him.

"The thing I'm most pleased with is I thought he actually guarded tonight for the first time since he's been here. He looked like he knew where he was supposed to be and played with great effort."

Jordan and the Aggies will continue to hone their offensive skills tonight against UT-El Paso with a trip to the NIT Season Tip-Off semi-finals at Madison Square Garden in New York on the line.

But it may not be easy against UTEP, which boasts a talented back court that likes to press on defense and should show the Aggies a lot of zone defense for the first time this season. They struggled in the first half last night against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but neither team could get into much of a rhythm thanks to 29 first half fouls that put many players on the bench from both teams.

In the second half though, the Miners came out firing on all cylinders and put the Islanders away for good.

"I thought Oral Roberts guards were really good and then I was watching UTEP before our game and I said, ‘wow, these guys are pretty special,'" Turgeon said.

The Miner have three extremely talented guards who combined for 55 points in the win over the Islanders last night and are led by 6-foot-5, 185 pound guard Stefon Jackson, who has scored 20 or more points in each of the Miners first two games. He recorded 21 of his 27 points in the second half against A&M-Corpus Christi last night and probably could have taken over the game in the first half, but played just six minutes because of foul trouble.

Randy Culpepper (6 foot, 160 lb guard) is another guard the Aggies will have to watch for tonight. He scored 17 points, including five three-pointers, for the Miners, and Marvin Kilgore (6-foot-3, 195 lb guard) chipped in with 11 points.

The Miners' system may look similar to many fans as well after watching Memphis use a very similar one last spring that knocked the Aggies out of the NCAA Tournament. But Turgeon believes that experience will play to the Aggies' advantage tonight.

"Our players scouted that (system) and played against it last year, so they'll know a lot of the things that UTEP is trying to do," he said.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the game will be nationally televised on ESPNU. All students will be admitted for free with a valid student ID thanks to a $10,000 gift from Mark Turgeon.

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