Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SEC Tournament: Top-Seeded Aggies Edge Vols

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

SEC Tournament: Top-Seeded Aggies Edge Vols

Article excerpt

Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy hoped his team can improve from a Southeastern Conference tournament win over Florida that looked good to him only on the scoreboard.

Jalen Jones made a go-ahead layup with 2:08 remaining and Alex Caruso followed with a steal and layup 13 seconds later to key a 7- 0 run that pushed No. 17 Texas A&M past Florida 72-66 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn.

Playing for the first time as the tournament's top seed, the Aggies (25-7) needed everything and everybody to break free of a Florida team that stayed with them throughout a tight game featuring 11 ties and seven lead changes. Something also had to give in a contest in which both teams shot just 39 percent.

Texas A&M ultimately prevailed by making shots when needed, along with a key takeaway.

"We didn't play well offensively, but we gutted it out," Kennedy said.

Danuel House followed those two quick baskets with a 3-pointer with 1:02 left to provide some more room, and freshman Admon Gilder's two free throws with 22.8 seconds to go sealed the Aggies' seventh straight win. Caruso added two more foul shots six seconds later and the Aggies advanced for the first time since their inaugural appearance in 2013.

As bad as Texas A&M shot, it scored 44 points in the lane, recorded 11 assists and committed just seven turnovers. And most important, it's still in contention for the SEC championship.

"The first game in any tournament is the hardest game to win," Kennedy said. "All the places I've been coaching, you've got to get past an ugly first round game. ... Hopefully, we got the ugliness out of us."

House and Tyler Davis each scored 15 points for Texas A&M, which will face Louisiana State in the semifinals Saturday. Jones finished with 13 points.

Kasey Hill's 18 points led five players in double figures for eighth-seeded Florida (19-14). …

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