In the battle of the Aggies', it was No. 5 seed Texas A&M who came out on top, with an impressive 69-53 win over No. 12 seed Utah State in the first round of the NCAA tournament's South Regional.
Freshman Khris Middleton scored a career-high 19 points, including hitting 5 of 6 three-point attempts, to lead Texas A&M.
The 6-foot-7 Middleton admitted after the game, "Going into the game, I was a little nervous. But as we started, I was less nervous and just played." Middleton made his first four 3-point attempts.
Texas A&M started a bit slow, missing 6 of its first 8 shots and trailing 5-4 when Jared Quayle hit a 3-pointer a little over four minutes into the game.
A&M scored ten straight points, including two 3-pointers by Khris Middleton, to take a nine-point lead, 14-5.
Utah State pulled back to within three, 21-18, when Jaxon Myaer made a jumper with 7:22 to go in the first half.
A&M went on a 19-9 run to build a thirteen point lead, 40-27 with a couple minutes left in the half, and took that thirteen point lead to halftime, 42-29.
Texas A&M was cold coming out in the second half. After Khris Middleton hit a three, A&M went over four minutes without scoring another point. Fortunately Utah State was not much warmer, only able to pull back to within nine, 45-36, during this spell.
The Aggies extended their lead to fifteen, 57-42, when Donald Sloan made a layupat the 9:12 mark in the second half.
B.J. Holmes hit a 3-pointer with 4:37 left in the game to give A&M a comfortable 18-point lead, 65-47.
From there, Texas A&M cruised to a convincing 69-53 win.
In addition to Middleton's 19 points, David Loubeau scored 14 points and B.J. Holmes came off the bench to score 11. Donald Sloan had 10 points and Bryan Davis pulled down 9 rebounds. Dash Harris came back from an injured wrist to play 26 minutes and put in a solid defensive effort.
Texas A&M held Utah State to 39% shooting and 25% in their three-point attempts.
Tai Wesley led Utah State with 14 points. Jared Quayle had 11 points but was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
Utah State coach Stew Morrill was impressed with Texas A&M, saying "We haven't played anybody as good as Texas A&M. Texas A&M physically dominated us."
A&M coach Mark Turgeon credited a strong defensive performance by his Aggies, "It all came down to defense .I was on them pretty hard in practice this week. We did it one game. Now we have to do it again on Sunday."
Texas A&M (24-9) advanced to the second round for the fifth consecutive year and will face No. 4 seed Purdue on Sunday.