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No. 18 Texas A&M fights off challenge from McNeese State

Jan 1, 2011 - 12:52 AM College Station, TX (Sports Network) - Khris Middleton netted 13 points and eight rebounds to help No. 18 Texas A&M take care of feisty McNeese State, 66-57, at Reed Arena.

Middleton was just 3-of-10 from the field, but made seven free throws for the Aggies (12-1) have won nine straight since suffering their lone loss to Boston College on November 25. Nathan Walkup posted 10 points and six boards in the win.

P.J. Alawoya and Patrick Richard each had 12 points for the Cowboys (8-5), who had their two game win streak snapped. Alawoya also had eight boards in the loss.

The Aggies overcame a seven point deficit at the half by scoring the first seven points of the second capped off by Middleton's two free throws.

"We talked to the team at the half about not panicking," said Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "You can't win every game by 20. Just figure out a way to win the game by guarding. That was very uncharacteristic of us in the first half defensively, and then we got back to being us in the second half. We guarded. We still weren't very good offensively, but we were good enough to win today."

The two teams traded baskets to tie the game at 39, but the Cowboys scored the next two buckets to regain a 44-39 edge 5 1/2 minutes into the final 20.

Texas A&M finally took control of the lead with a 12-1 run concluded by Ray Turner's dunk to give them a 51-45 lead with just under nine minutes to play.

However, McNeese State would not go down easily after Stephan Martin and Richard hit back-to-back jumpers to make it a 56-53 game. The Aggies responded by scoring the next seven points finished by B.J. Holmes trey, giving them a 63-53 edge with two minutes left.

The Cowboys were only able to score two more field goals the remainder of the game, while the Aggies sealed the game from the free throw line.

Alawoya's layup gave McNeese 12-7 lead during the first four minutes of play. Midway through the first half, Richard made a layup to go on another 12-7 run as the lead grew to 10.

The Cowboys clung onto its lead heading into halftime, 37-30, after Richard made a short jumper with less than a minute to play.

Game Notes

The Aggies own a 4-1 series advantage over McNeese State...Texas A&M shot just 38.5 percent from the field, while the Cowboys shot 41.8 percent...The Aggies 12-1 start, matches the second-best start in school history. This year's squad is just the fifth ever to begin the year 12-1 or better. The 1919-20 team went 13-0 through their first 13 games, while the 2010-11 team joins the 1959-60, 2004-05, 2007-08 and 2008-09 teams with 12-1 starts to their seasons.