NEW YORK -- A quick look at No. 18 Texas A&M’s 58-57 win over St. John’s.
What it means: Texas A&M, a team that’s gone through so much off the court and remains a work in progress as it awaits the return of Khris Middleton from a knee injury, leaves New York with a good win and an injection of confidence. The Aggies' ferocious work on the boards served as the difference-maker in a game that got close in the second half. Meantime, St. John’s leaves with two heartbreakers, losing comeback attempts against both Arizona and A&M. But Steve Lavin’s young team is talented and scrappy, which should serve the Red Storm well as they mature.
How it happened: Elston Turner sunk a sweet jumper from the top of the key with six seconds left to help A&M stave off a second-half rally by the Johnnies. Nurideen Lindsey missed two free throws with 2.3 seconds left, a microcosm of the Red Storm's entire game. St. John's was just 22-of-38 (58 percent) from the charity stripe. That was huge for the Aggies, who attempted just three free throws.
Star of the game: Split it three ways between Elston Turner (nailed the game-winner), Ray Turner (led the Aggies with 16 points) and Kourtney Roberson (whose board-cleaning to the tune of 11 rebounds was especially huge).
Halftime: St. John’s, a team that early on is proving to be a scrappy bunch, recovered from a slow start and an 11-point hole to trail by just two, 32-30, at the break. The Aggies’ biggest advantage came on the boards, where they held a monstrous 24-11 lead in the first.
Extra meaning: This game was steeped in poignancy. On the St. John’s bench, there was Steve Lavin, back at work after his battle with prostate cancer. On A&M’s side, Billy Kennedy still is trying to handle the exhaustion, mental and physical, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Meantime, two of his assistants, Glynn Cyprien and Kyle Keller, were assistants at Oklahoma State 10 years ago when a plane crash killed 10 members of the Cowboys traveling party. On Friday, both were trying to come to grips with yet another tragedy at OSU, another plane crash that claimed the lives of women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna.
What’s next: The Aggies will be in College Station for a handful of winnable games -- against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Alcorn State, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe, before traveling to face Florida on Dec. 8. The Red Storm, meantime, stays in New York for games against St. Francis and Northeastern before a Dec. 1 game at Kentucky.