Shot Heard Round the World

Down by 18 late in the second half, even the announcers couldn't hold it in. "This game is over. Chalk this one up for Nebraska." No one told the Aggies, and no one told Josh Carter. By the end Carter capped a comeback with a shot that will be on highlight reels for a long time.

Okay, maybe it wasn't heard around the globe but for any diehard Aggie basketball fan Josh Carter's 25-foot buzzer beater from the top of the key ranks near the top of any Texas A&M hoops moment. Not only did the shot complete a furious comeback from an 18-point second half deficit, but with the ball's 25-foot trip from Carter's fingertips to the rim, Texas A&M's NCAA Tournament chances hung in the balance. Go in, and the Aggies continue on its goal to hit nine wins in conference and a realistic chance at a fourth straight NCAA berth. Miss, and the Aggies would likely be relegated to the consolation prize known as the NIT Tournament. In fact, only Acie Law may lay claim to a more important shot in Aggie basketball history.

As the ball snuggled in the bottom of the net and the clock showed a 57-55 Aggie victory, the team piled on the senior in the most improbable victory of the season. After a questionable technical foul on Nathan Walkup and a Nebraska jump shot opened up a 48-30 lead with less than 15 minutes to play, ESPN announcer and former OSU Cowboy Doug Gottlieb declared the game over.

Well, Gottlieb didn't foresee Mark Turgeon going with a smaller, quicker lineup to create more defensive pressure and pressing. In the first 25 minutes of the contest when A&M played a bigger lineup with a more passive theme, the Huskers committed no turnovers and played a clean game on the offensive end while holding the Aggies to just 30 points. In the final 15 minutes with a smaller, aggressive lineup, the Aggies forced eight turnovers and outscored Nebraska 27-7. How dominating was A&M's defense? The Cornhuskers managed just two field goals in the game's final 16:52 and four total baskets in the entire second half.

While a drastic change of strategy altered the course of the second half, the play of the game that breathed life into the Aggie players and the maroon-clad bench was the steal and rim-rattling power dunk of point guard Dash Harris over Cookie Miller that is being replayed on every SportsCenter highlight show this morning. From that point forward, the Aggies played more aggressively and with a little more swagger, while it was the Huskers dribbling without purpose and hoping to hang on and run out the clock.

If only Coach Turgeon can bottle up that aggressiveness and sense of urgency and release it at the opening tip of every game, this Aggie team would be positioning themselves for a higher seeding as opposed to desperately scrambling to make the field of 65. Be that as it may, the Aggies are sitting at 20-8 and 6-7 in the Big 12. With highly winnable games coming up against Iowa State (who beat Baylor last night, BTW) and Colorado, the path to eight wins is very clear. Take care of business and this team is 8-7 with a monumental showdown at Reed Arena against Top 10 Missouri.

Despite what ESPN pundits said Tuesday night, a clean sweep and a 9-7 record in the Big 12 does give the Aggies a lot of ammunition for the NCAA Tournament committee. Going into tonight's game, A&M's RPI was No. 40 which will go up slightly after Tuesday's road win. If the Aggies take care of business against Iowa State and Colorado, and then can beat Top 10 Missouri at Reed Arena, then A&M's RPI should be pushing into the 20's. Add to that fact Aggies will have won six conference games in a row and it will be very hard to ignore that resume'.

And we can have that discussion today because the senior we've been waiting for months to carry this team actually carried the team Tuesday, and in the process resuscitated life back into the Aggies' NCAA hopes that 15 minutes earlier were on life support. Aggie basketball isn't out of the woods yet, but the vital signs are getting stronger and the road to the NCAA's is clear and achievable. Thanks Acie…er, Josh.




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