for this game

Texas A&M stifles Ohio State to win NIT Season Tip-Off

Nov 24, 2007 - 3:37 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) - Dominique Kirk and the rest of 15th-ranked Texas A&M have converted to a defensive mind-set but even they were surprised with what they accomplished in the second half against Ohio State.

Kirk and the Aggies held the Buckeyes to five baskets in the second half and claimed their first NIT Season Tip-off championship with a 70-47 rout on Friday night.

The Aggies had limited opponents in their five games to 38.9 percent shooting and 60.2 points per game. Those numbers will drop after they held Ohio State to 24.6 percent (14-of-57) from the floor and 5-of-28 in the second half.

While holding a team under 30 percent may seem like a rarity for many teams, it was the second time in less than a year that the Aggies did it and the sixth-lowest in school history.

A&M set a school record December 28 against Grambling but this was achieved against a team that was the runner-up in the national championship game last season.

"It's a surprise," Kirk said. "Ohio State is a tournament team. We never thought they weren't going to get a basket. They shot, I think, 18 percent in the second half. That's amazing."

Senior forward Joseph Jones was named the Most Outstanding Player for collecting 27 points and 13 rebounds in the two wins, but it might have also been due to his contribution to shutting down Washington forward Jon Brockman in the second half and limiting Ohio State freshman Kostas Koufos to 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting Friday.

"I try to come in and do whatever I can," Jones said. "They're both great players. They're great offensively. I just try to do whatever the team needs me to do. I just try to come in and slow them down - just put my body in the way."

That resulted in the second-most lopsided margin of victory in the history of the event which started 22 years ago.

"It's nice," first-year Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "I think our team was built for defense. If you look at our team, we're fast, we're athletic. And it's been programmed before I got here to play defense."

"Defense wins games," Kirk said. "So we go out there and try to play defense every day. That's where it starts and offense takes care of itself."

Jones was one of four Aggies in double figures with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Texas A&M was led by reserve Derrick Roland, who scored a career-high 15 points in just 16 minutes.

Reserve Nathan Walkup contributed 11 points while freshman DeAndre Jordan collected 11 and nine rebounds while helping out on Koufos.

"It's up there," Koufos said. "DeAndre Jordan is a great player as well as the other senior leaders on their team. We just couldn't hit shots."

Texas A&M took a 31-25 lead at the half. The Aggies turned the game into a rout by outscoring the Buckeyes, 23-5, over the first 10:41 of the second half.

The Aggies held Ohio State (3-1) to one basket in the first 11:27. The Buckeyes did not get a basket for the first 4:46 and then went another 6:47 without a hoop before Jamar Butler and Koufos scored on consecutive possessions.

"You're going to have games like this," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "I don't know how many I've been a part of where the ball would not go in the basket. We were missing. They're big and they're very good defensively."

Before they scored, the Buckeyes missed 12 consecutive shots - and that was after shooting 31 percent (9-of-29) in the first half.

That figure and the deficit could have been worse but Butler scored 15 of his 17 points in the opening 20 minutes. Like the rest of the team, he went cold and Ohio State endured its worst loss since a 30-point defeat at Wisconsin on February 14, 2004.

"I think they held us to, I don't know how many points," Butler said. "But I've got to give them credit. They played great defense."