COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Reed Arena was the scene of sloppy basketball from Texas A&M. Very rarely was it pretty and shooting from the Aggies was atrocious against Colorado's primarily 1-3-1 zone as A&M hit just 2-23 3-point shots. A&M didn't force Colorado into its trademark turnovers as the Buffaloes turned the ball over just 10 times and forced the Aggies into 12.
But in the end the Aggies stilled pulled off the win, 67-63, after senior guard Donald Sloan knocked down for straight free throws and B.J. Holmes was perfect on two more to keep the Buffaloes in a two-possession situation down the stretch.
"I guess in this league a win is a win. You've got to take it any way you can get it," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "We thought they were going to zone us. Maybe not 38 minutes but when you shoot the way we shot the ball you have to stay in the zone. Sloan was as bad as he can be and I think he had 18 points, but he wasn't very good. Then the right guys got fouled at the end and they stepped up and hit free throws."
Even with the shooting woes and turnovers, A&M won because it owned the boards. The Aggies pulled down 14 offensive rebounds, a problem for Colorado all season, and scored 16 second chance points.
None were bigger than a put-back dunk by Bryan Davis off a missed lay-up from Sloan with 32 seconds remaining to give A&M A 61-59 lead. Davis would finish with 12 points and nine rebounds, six of those of the offensive variety.
Junior forward Nathan Walkup was also a major influence on the offensive boards as he scored the first two points of the game on a put back on his way to 16 points and eight rebounds despite a 0-5 day from the 3-point arc.
"Bryan just what hustle. They were trying to box Bryan out and he jumped right around the guy and tip-dunked it. That was the difference in the game," Turgeon said. "He just didn't allow them to box him out. It really was the difference in the game because we couldn't make shots and we got a lot of second chance points."
Behind its poor shooting, A&M trailed Colorado, 32-30, at the half. In the second half, however, A&M was able to push out to a 10-point lead, but then Colorado, led by 19 points from both Cory Higgins and Alec Burks, pulled back to even by forcing turnovers from A&M on the other end.
"Our defense was really good, and we let down. We got a 10-point lead and we let down," Turgeon said. "Then we got another lead late and we didn't execute very well, and quite frankly I wasn't at my best during that stretch either. I pride myself in late game situations, but that said we won the game and we move on."
With A&M leading 61-59, Colorado got the ball to Burks at the top of the key in a one-on-one situation with Sloan. After making a move to his left Burks pulled up at the free throw line and missed the jumper. Sloan would get the rebound and was immediately fouled, starting the streak of Aggie free throws to ice the game.
"What we wanted to do was have our young freshman Alec Burks make a play. The way we were going to space the court that's always a possibility," said Colorado head coach Jeff Bzdelik. "I just want him to make good decisions when we attack the rim. He just needs to make a solid play and really the bottom line is score. He's a freshman and as you can see he's a very talented young man, but gaining wisdom and experience, how do you do that? You just have to go through the moment."
A&M will hit the road Wednesday to face Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m. at Gallagher-Iba Arena and broadcast on ESPN2.