November 20, 2008

SFA win shows signs of things to come

For those unfamiliar with the lower rungs of Division I college basketball, basically the one-bid conferences that become popular office pool picks for upsets in March, seeing Stephen F. Austin on the Texas A&M schedule probably came across as little more than a cross-state non-conference matchup of the haves versus the have-nots.

But for those schooled in college basketball outside of the major conferences, SFA is no laughing matter for big schools in a "paycheck" game. Just ask Oklahoma and San Diego, two teams that not only made the NCAA tournament but advanced. They were both beaten on their home floors last season by the Lumberjacks.

And SFA brought everyone back except for one in the top six of their rotation. For a team that prides itself on defense, the Lumberjacks aren't a pushover for any team no matter what league they hail from. And with senior Josh Alexander, an All-American candidate who dropped 21 on the Aggies, SFA has the firepower to stay with anyone.

And that is why A&M's 55-48 win over SFA Tuesday night at Reed Arena is such a huge early season victory for the Aggies. In just their second game of the season, and just two days after a ho-hum 76-47 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Aggies weathered the storm of an experienced and talented team with suffocating defense and timely plays from unlikely names on the roster. It's definitely something to build on, and to those who know college basketball, it's an eye-opening gritty win.

"They are a very good team. They had 26 wins last season and they will have that many, if not more, this season," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "They played us tough, but we played hard and came out with the win. This was a heck of a win for us. This is a good team to beat this early in the season. I wish we didn't have to play them, but we did and we got the W."

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