for this game

Law, Texas A&M overcome Sosa, Louisville

Mar 18, 2007 - 2:18 AM LEXINGTON, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Acie Law IV and Texas A&M survived a very tough challenge.

Law scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half as third-seeded Texas A&M squeaked by No. 6 Louisville with a 72-69 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's South Region.

Winning for the 11th time in their last 14 games, the Aggies (27-6) advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1980. They will face either second-seeded Memphis or Nevada on Thursday.

"It mean a lot to me and the rest of these guys," Law said. "To go from an 0-16 season (in the Big 12 in 2004) to the Sweet 16, there are no words to describe it. This means a lot to this program."

As if it was not bad enough that Texas A&M was facing Louisville just 77 miles from home, it also had to overcome the breakout performance by freshman Edgar Sosa, who finished with a season-high 31 points.

Sosa, who entered the tournament averaging 10.7 points, sandwiched a 3-pointer and a layup around a free throw by Law, giving the Cardinals (24-10) a 61-57 edge with 6:57 remaining.

Although Louisville went up six after freshman Earl Clark's jumper with 6:02 remaining, Texas A&M battled back with a 9-2 run as Dominique Kirk scored five points.

Kirk, who finished with 15 of his 21 points in the second half, hit two free throws for a 66-65 edge with 3:27 to go.

Despite the stellar effort, Sosa might be more remembered for his shaky play down the stretch when Louisville was trying to punch its second trip to the regional semifinals in three years.

"Freshmen can make mistakes and he had an unbelievable game," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who dropped to 31-11 in NCAA Tournament play. "I was disappointed that down the stretch he left some shooters when we had the interior covered and that really hurt us. Their 3-pointers really hurt us, especially the corner one (by Kirk)."

After Law converted two free throws for a 70-69 edge with 57 seconds left, Sosa had a chance to return the lead to the Cardinals after he was fouled on a drive 28 ticks later. Although he began the game by making his first 15 attempts from the stripe, Sosa was off the mark on both.

Sosa made 68 percent of his free throws before the tournament.

Although the Aggies were unable to add to their cushion when Joseph Jones missed two attempts from the line, Sosa took an ill-advised 3-pointer as the game clock wound down and Texas A&M took possession with 1.7 seconds to play.

"We had the game in our hands in the last 16 seconds," Sosa said. "Coach told me to look for Jerry (Smith) coming off the stagger or look for T (Terrence Williams) in the corner. He said if both are denied go to the basket at six seconds.

"I wanted to go in, but when I saw that both options were jammed and I looked past the defender and everyone was in the lane. They were either going to take a charge or I would throw up a bad shot. He (the defender) was playing back off me. I did not know how far out I was from the 3-point line, but I just shot it. I definitely could have done something else."

Even Aggies coach Billy Gillispie fully expected Louisville to get inside, something that had been successful for it throughout the second half.

"I thought they would run a ball screen to try to get in the paint and draw a foul," he said. "I mean ,that is how they have been beating us."

However, the play ended up unfolding in a similar fashion to Louisiana State's game-winning shot against Texas A&M in the second round of the tournament last season.

"It's ironic, it is basically the same play LSU ran last year, or close to the same play, and the shot was taken from almost the exact same spot," Gillispie said. "One of them went in, one of them didn't. So I guess it evens out. I'm awfully glad it did."

After the game, Law went up to Sosa to console the young player.

"I told him that he's a heck of a player," Law said. "He played extremely hard. For him to be a freshman and take control of his team like that, he has a bright future ahead of him."

Overall, Sosa finished 7-of-9 from the field, including 2-of-4 from the arc, in topping his previous high for points with 22 in a 74-71 win over Ohio on November 8.

Along with his timely offense, Kirk had six rebounds and two steals and Jones chipped in 12 points and eight boards for the Aggies, who beat the Cardinals for the first time in three all-time meetings despite being outrebounded, 30-25, and outscored in second-chance points, 14-6.

Williams scored 17 points and Derrick Caracter added eight before fouling out midway through the second half for Louisville, which lost for just the second in 22 games this season when leading with five minutes remaining.