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December 31, 2007

A&M uses stifling defense to win sixth straight

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Texas A&M overcame its worst shooting game of the season to extend its winning streak to six games.

Josh Carter and DeAndre Jordan scored 16 points apiece, and Texas A&M (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) beat Rice 68-41 on Monday.

Jordan, a 7-foot freshman, also had 12 rebounds and four blocks.

Texas A&M (13-1) moved into a tie for the second-best start in school history. It's the first time since the 1959-60 season the Aggies have been 13-1.

The Aggies shot a season-low 38 percent from the field (26-of-69), the first time they've been under 43 percent this season.

"We just never got it going offensively and you have to give [Rice] credit," coach Mark Turgeon said. "They were very physical. There was a stretch in the second half where I thought we had a little freedom out there, but we just couldn't make shots today."

The Aggies led by 15 at halftime and pushed their lead to 47-27 on a layup by Jordan midway through the second half. They went on a 6-0 run to make it 59-33 with about 5 minutes left.

Lawrence Ghoram had 16 points and six rebounds for Rice (3-8).

It was the Owls' first trip to College Station since their 78-56 loss to Texas A&M in the last year of Southwest Conference play in 1996.

Joseph Jones added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Aggies, who closed out the first half with an 11-0 run.

Jones scored inside and Carter made a 3-pointer in the first 2 minutes after the break to stretch the lead to 38-18.

"It was one of them days," Jones said. "The ball wasn't falling for us, but we knew if we just kept playing defense and kept them from scoring then we'll eventually start making shots."

Ghoram's layup with 15:42 left cut Texas A&M's lead to 40-26, but Rice went the next 7 minutes without a field goal as the Aggies stayed in control.

Texas A&M led 59-35 with about 4 minutes left when Turgeon turned the game over to his reserves.

The Aggies have won 13 straight games at Reed Arena, including all 11 this season. They've won 45 consecutive regular-season nonconference home games.

Rice shot only 27 percent (15-for-56), the fourth Texas A&M opponent to shoot worse than 30 percent this season.

Rice was hampered offensively with its leading scorer this season, Patrick Britton, in foul trouble with three in the first half. Britton picked up his fourth foul early in the second half with his second charge and eventually fouled out. He finished the game with eight points.

A&M's Dominique Kirk started his Big 12-record 110th straight game. He passed Aaron Miles who had 109 consecutive starts for Kansas from 2001-05. Kirk had six assists.

Rice coach Willis Wilson lamented a couple of missed opportunities for the Owls to take the lead early.

"We were playing really good basketball and we didn't capitalize," he said. "We had good looks, but didn't finish them and if anything from that point on we got a little tentative and that tentativeness rolled over into the second half."

The Aggies will finish their nonconference schedule Saturday at home against LSU.


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