for this game

Carter scores 23 to lead Texas A&M comeback

Nov 15, 2007 - 6:36 AM COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Ticker) -- Texas at El Paso stayed in the game with some long-distance bombs, but it was Josh Carter who made the biggest 3-pointer and sent Texas A&M to New York City.

Carter hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:10 left in the game and scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half as the No. 15 Aggies rallied from a double-digit deficit for an 81-76 victory over UTEP in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament.

James Jones had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Aggies (3-0), who will play either Washington or Utah at Madison Square Garden next Wednesday in the semifinals.

"We just had to stay with it," Carter said. "They came out making everything. I think this is really good for us. It helps us know we can come from behind. We loved the crowd. The fans always play a big part in the game.

"We're excited about going to New York City."

The Miners (2-1) knocked down 8-of-16 shots from the arc in the first half, led by as many as 10 after consecutive 3-pointers by Jeremy Sampson before settling for a 42-34 lead entering the locker room.

"We have some good shooters on this team," UTEP coach Tony Barbee said. "We work on it everyday. It's a big part of our offense. We got some good looks and we knocked them down and we got some tough looks and we knocked them down.

"We had our opportunities. When you go on the road against a top-15 team like A&M you have to take what they give to you."

Stefon Jackson scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-3 from the arc.

The Aggies battled back and took a 59-58 lead with 8:25 left on a jumper from the right wing by Jones - their first lead since 9-7.

"We needed everybody to step up," Jones said. "Coach told us to stay confident in our offense and keep playing good defense. Our motto is play together. We had to come together and battle to get the victory."

The clubs battled back and forth thereafter until Carter drained a deep 3-pointer from the right wing off a set inbounds play to give A&M a 71-68 edge.

"You have to take big shots and make big shots," Carter said. "Hopefully, I make more than I miss."

After Marvin Kilgore dropped down two free throws for UTEP, Carter found Derrick Roland along the right baseline for a dunk with 1:35 left. Dominique Kirk then cashed in a turnover by knocking down a pull-up jumper from the right wing for a 75-70 lead with 48 seconds remaining.

Kirk, a defensive stopper, then forced another turnover and Roland knocked down a free throw to ice it.

"That was one heck of a college basketball game," Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "I had fun out there, but not when they were up by 10. UTEP was fantastic from beginning to end. We had trouble guarding their offense. I'm really proud of our guys. I'm also really proud of our big three veterans. We really executed at a high level."

"We needed a game like that. We talked at halftime about having to prove ourselves every year. Our guys did a good job of coming together and getting it done tonight. It was a good win, a heck of a game, in a great environment."