Texas A&M's road to an NCAA Tourney Invite

With a win over No. 12 Missouri on Saturday afternoon, Texas A&M (23-8, 9-7 Big 12) likely locked up what at times this season appeared to be a highly improbable NCAA tourney invite. The Aggie Websider's Tony Hooten looks back at seven key games that have shaped the Aggies' successful 2008-2009 season, so far.

With a win over No. 12 Missouri on Saturday afternoon, Texas A&M likely locked up what at times this season appeared to be a highly improbable NCAA tourney invite.

We look back at seven games that have shaped the Aggies' season, so far.

December 5th - Arizona

Nathan Walkup scored a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to give Texas A&M a 67-66 win over Arizona. Walkup's winning shot was A&M's only lead of the game. The Aggies (6-1) trailed 40-29 at halftime and had been out-rebounded 20-5 at that point. They clawed back into the contest with B.J. Holmes' team-high 14 points, including two key 3-pointers and two free throws down the stretch.

December 13th - Alabama

Josh Carter scored 23 points as Texas A&M travelled to Tuscaloosa and defeated Alabama 86-78 in overtime.

In the overtime, the Aggies (7-1) held Alabama (5-3) without a field goal. Alabama led 70-67 until the Aggies made two 3-pointers in the final 17 seconds to send the game into overtime. Nathan Walkup hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to make the score 72-70, but Mikhail Torrance hit a free throw to push the Alabama lead back to three. B.J. Holmes hit a 3-pointer with one second left in regulation, setting up a 13-5 overtime advantage for the Aggies.

December 20th - LSU

Josh Carter scored 19 points and Bryan Davis added 16, including two key baskets down the stretch, and Texas A&M beat LSU 72-61 in a game played in Houston. It was the sixth straight win for the Aggies (10-1) and the first loss of the season for the Tigers. The Aggies fought off a late surge from the Tigers, who got within two points with about 3 minutes to play.

At the time, many discounted the Aggie win as showing that LSU was not nearly as good as their unbeaten record might indicate. However, after LSU rolled through the SEC with a 13-3 conference record, this LSU victory stood out as the Aggies's marque win for the season, up until Saturday's win over Missouri.

February 16th - Texas

On Saturday, February 14th, the Aggies suffered a heartbreaking 72-68 loss to Baylor in Waco. It was the Aggies' third loss in a row, their 6th loss in eight games, and left the Aggies with a 3-7 Big 12 conference record. It was the Aggies low point of the season. Not only did it look impossible for the Aggies to make the NCAA tourney, it looked like the might not even be NIT worthy. The Aggies had just two days to regroup before hosting arch rival Texas on Monday night.

Texas A&M stormed to a 81-66 win over Texas. The Aggies (18-8, 4-7 Big 12) led by as many as 19 points in the second half before Texas went on a 16-1 run to get back in the game. Texas cut the deficit to 61-57 before the Aggies scored seven straight points to stretch their lead back to double-digits with about five minutes left. The Aggies made nine free throws after that to secure the victory. Chinemelu Elonu and Bryan Davis scored 15 points apiece while Donald Sloan added 14 points to lead Texas A&M

February 24th - Nebraska

In what was effectively an NCAA bubble elimination game, Josh Carter nailed a 25-foot jumper from the top of the key as time expired to give Texas A&M a come-from-behind 57-55 Big 12 road win over Nebraska in Lincoln. It was the first Aggie lead since holding a 5-4 lead four minutes into the game.

With The Aggies and Huskers tied 18-all, Nebraska went on a 19-6 run to take 37-24 halftime lead. Nebraska extended their lead to 18 points in the second half, a margin they held as late as the 14:02 mark, 48-30. For the next twelve minutes the Aggies chipped away at the Husker lead, outscoring Nebraska 17-6, but Nebraska still held a 7-point lead 54-47 with 1:42 left in the game. A Nebraska foul gave the Texas A&M the ball out of bounds with 2.6 seconds left, still trailing 55-54.

Josh Carter received the inbounds pass and swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key as time ran out. The Aggies scored 10 of the game's final 11 points to claim its third win in a row.

March 4th - Colorado

The Aggies travelled to Boulder needing another Big 12 win to keep their chances of an NCAA tourney invite. With the Aggies last Big 12 conference game to be against top 15 Missouri, the pressure was on to win on the load over the Buffaloes. It wasn't supposed to be this hard. After all, Colorado sported a 1-13 conference record. Somebody forgot to tell the Buffs.

The Aggies committed 19 turnovers, most of them in the first half, as Colorado built a 32-24 halftime lead. Texas A&M outscored Colorado 16-5 the first seven minutes of the second half to take a 40-37 lead. Colorado fought back to take a 54-49 lead with 5:55 left in the game

A&M regained the lead, 58-56, on a Donald Sloan layup and extended the lead to five, 61-56, with three minutes remaining. Colorado pulled back to within two, 68-66, with 17 seconds left, before B.J. Holmes and Derrick Roland each sunk pairs of free throws to ice the win. Josh Carter led the Aggies with 18 points while B.J. Holmes came off the bench to score 16.

March 7th - Missouri

Texas A&M blew out to a 51-29 halftime lead over No. 12 Missouri and held off a late Tiger rally to win its sixth game in a row and likely lock up an invite to the NCAA tourney.

In front of a an enthusiastic Reed Arena crowd of 13,007, the Aggies played their best half of basketball this season, forcing 9 Tiger turnovers in blowing out to a 22-point halftime lead, 51-29.

The Aggies built a lead of 26 points, 62-36, with about 16 minutes remaining, before Missouri started to knock down 3-pointers on almost every possession. They made four 3s to fuel a 20-7 run to get within 69-56 with about 10 minutes left. An 11-4 Missouri run made it 81-71 with about 5 minutes left.

Missouri cut the lead to seven points twice after that, but Donald Sloan answered with a dunk on a fast break to push the lead to 90-81 with 32 seconds left. The Aggies shot 62 percent from the field and made six free throws in the final seconds to secure the win.

Texas A&M (23-8, 9-7 Big 12) now moves into the Big 12 tourney with a six-game win streak.

With the Big 12 and NCAA tourneys, we look for more big games to add to these highlights of the Texas A&M 2008-2009 basketball season.


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