Texas A&M survives scare from PennMar 15, 2007 - 11:50 PM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Pennsylvania made its run, but it came too early to put away Texas A&M.
Wooden Award candidate Acie Law IV scored 20 points as third-seeded Texas A&M pulled out a 68-52 victory over 14th-seeded Penn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament's South Region.
The Aggies (26-6) controlled the first half, building a 31-16 lead on a dunk by Bryan Davis with 1:21 remaining. Dominique Kirk scored eight points, including two 3-pointers, during a 10-3 run to start the game.
"Coach always tells me to shoot the ball, don't worry about it," Kirk said. "So I let it rock."
"I was a little disappointed in the first half," Penn coach Glen miller said. "Outside of (Mark Zoller and Ibrahim Jaaber), I thought we played a little intimidated. Playing against such a good team in Texas A&M, when you have those opportunities, you have to knock down a reasonable amount of shots. We dug ourselves a hole."
However, the Quakers (22-9) came out of the break determined, charging to the lead with a 21-6 run over the first seven minutes. Ivy League Player of the Year Jaaber's layup with 13:04 remaining put Penn ahead, 39-37.
"I thought in the second half we collected ourselves," Miller said, "and came out of the locker room and showed some spunk to come back and take the lead."
The Aggies were not shaken by the Quakers' comeback, responding with a 10-0 run to reclaim the lead at 47-39 with 7:33 to play. Law and Joseph Jones both scored four points during the burst.
"We missed like four layups from about four feet out and they did a great job of converting those plays and we did a bad job of finishing them," Law said. "Once we fell behind, we knew we had to play together and dig down and get stops. The big fellow (Joseph Jones) put a run together and Dominique made some big shots and we were able to get back in the game and eventually get ahead and get a victory."
Law, who scored 13 points in the second half, had seven more in the last six minutes to secure the victory. Kirk finished with 16 points and was 3-of-5 from the arc.
The Aggies outrebounded the Quakers, 40-27, but will need to improve their poor free-throw percentage (15-of-27) in the second round against Louisville, which advanced by dominating Stanford, 78-58.
Zoller scored 19 points and Jaaber had 16 for Penn, which shot 36 percent (21-of-58) from the field, including 4-of-20 on 3-pointers.
"We didn't want to lose," Law said. "We've worked too hard this season to put ourselves in this situation and we didn't want to let that go. We deserve to be in this tournament. At the same time, we knew in our minds that we had to make plays, we had to get back in it and it all starts with defense."
- SOUTH REGIONAL
AT LEXINGTON KY
NCAA BB SOUTH REGIONAL
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
PENN 18 34 52
TEXAS A&M 31 37 68 FINAL
Mar 15 5:18 PM
- SOUTH REGIONAL
AT LEXINGTON KY
NCAA BB (14) PENN 18
(3) TEXAS A&M 31 HALFTIME
Mar 15 3:56 PM
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