Coming off of back-to-back blowout losses on the road, the Aggies needed a win Wednesday night against No. 25 Baylor. But as one overtime finished and another began—five times—it seemed as if the Aggies needed the win even more.
But following the heart-breaking loss to the Bears, head coach Mark Turgeon, who has taken a lot of criticism over the past three losses, said he was proud of the way his players fought.
"I thought we played much better today," he said. "We played a very good basketball team with some of the best guards I've ever seen. The game was 60-51 (in the closing minutes of regulation) and pretty much over and our guys got up and got it into overtime. I thought we had two overtimes won. Up four with the ball, then the point guard gets stripped, (we were called for the) intentional foul, then we're up five shooting two free throws and we missed them both. Free throws cost us."
Indeed. The Aggies shot 12 more free throws than the Bears, yet Baylor made three more free throws than the Aggies. That's never a good sign.
A&M did hold Baylor, which is averaging 47.5 percent from the field, to a season low 36 percent field goal percentage. But it just wasn't enough to overcome the Aggies' youthful errors and deficiency at the free throw line.
"They have put together a heck of a nice team," Turgeon said. "You're always helping, you're always at a disadvantage. I thought our defensive game plan was great, and it was the best we guarded in a long time. It was a heck of a team that we had to guard out there."
Because of the extra help defense the Aggies were forced to play, Baylor managed to outrebound a much taller A&M squad, 70-64.
"You're either helping up, which we shouldn't be doing, or helping guys on ball screens which frees guys to the boards," Turgeon said. "Early we did a good job helping each other rebound and at the end we didn't."
But despite the loss, Turgeon said he believes people can stop questioning the heart and toughness of this Aggie team.
"I think some people were questioning our conditioning and our toughness and I think our players answered it tonight," he said. "I think we played with tremendous toughness and we have great conditioning. A five overtime game is asking a lot when you're not as deep as you need to be (at guard)."
After the game, there was little Turgeon could say to comfort the exhausted Aggies.
"You can't say anything right after the game except, ‘I really appreciate the effort, you guys gutted it out.' We had two overtimes won, we just didn't finish it out. But we got better tonight. There's a lot more toughness about us, the defense is better, and even though we can't shoot well, our execution (on offense) was at a much higher level. Eventually these shots are going to start falling for us and free throws will be a little easier for us.
"We know our backs are against the wall, we know where we are and we know we've got to figure out a way to get one and hopefully that will lead to another one. After the last two games I couldn't go to bed feeling good about anything. I didn't think I was doing my job and I didn't think the guys were doing their job and we didn't have the fight in us. Well tonight we had the fight in us."
The Aggies will have to bring that fight with them if they're going to bounce back on the road at Oklahoma State. Prior to last season, the Aggies had never won a game in the state of Oklahoma, and the Cowboys will have two extra days to prepare for the Aggies.
But Turgeon said his players are resilient.
"We'll be fine. These guys are tough," Turgeon said.
Turgeon responds to heart-breaker
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