He heard the NIT chants from Baylor students before the game. He heard the trash talk from Baylor trainers during pre-game warm-ups. He listened to the—well, let's just call them "less-than-Christian-like"—comments from Baylor fans throughout the game. He even listened to one Baylor assistant coach use R-rated language towards teammate Dominique Kirk. All Kirk tried to do was check on the health of Baylor guard Tweety Carter after getting leveled by a legal screen set by 6-foot-9 Joseph Jones near half court.
With 1.8 seconds remaining in Texas A&M's 71-57 win over Baylor on Wednesday night, sophomore Donald Sloan had had enough. He threw the ball up on the backboard from the three-point line and then leapt up for the tomahawk slam off the glass, that sent an already-out-of-control Ferrell Center into total chaos. But he wanted to make a statement.
So did the Aggies.
It's been a roller coaster ride over the last seven days for A&M coaches and players. They pounded Texas Tech last Wednesday at home to the tune of 44 points. But then three days later they suffered an embarrassing loss on the road against Oklahoma. The Aggies needed this kind of win, and they needed it in front of a national television audience.
They held Baylor, which is averaging 81.1 points per game this season to just 57 points. It was the first time all season that a team held the Bears under 60.
The Bears are the Big 12's second-best 3-point shooting team, but were just 4-for-19 from behind the arch and shot 21-for-63 (33 percent) from the field overall. The Bears shot just 24 percent (7-for-29) and missed all nine 3-point attempts in the first half as well, thanks to one of the best defensive efforts by the Aggies this season.
"I think we did a great job of showing ball screens," said A&M senior Beau Muhlbach after the game. "Their offense has a lot of ball screens in it and we pushed their guards back out coming off the ball screen and we defended the pick and roll and ball screens real well. (In the first game) at our place we got tired and our big men weren't showing the right way. Tonight we defended it the right way."
Sitting at 7-7 in Big 12 play with two games remaining, the Aggies' NCAA Tournament hopes seemed to be fading fast. But that all changed with the 14-point statement victory by the Aggies, who will host Kansas on Saturday with a first-round bye and the No. 4 seed in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City on the line.
After struggling to find a consistent formula to motivate his team this year, perhaps Turgeon should invite Baylor fans to Thursday and Friday practice sessions this week and provide them with the team's tickets behind the A&M bench.
But they'll have to buy their own water bottles.
Baylor gets Sloaned
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