COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M wanted to get back to playing the kind of defense it prides itself on Saturday night.
The Aggies (NR ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) accomplished their goal, allowing just 11 first half points en route to a 71-50 win over The Citadel."I thought we were really good defensively almost the whole game," Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "We were really disciplined on defense. I was proud of our group."It was the Aggies' first game since last Saturday's 84-81 loss to New Mexico and their first win over The Citadel in the second meeting with the school.The Aggies used a dominant first half to put the game away -- the Bulldogs didn't get within 10 points after the first few minutes. Texas A&M (9-2) had six 3s by halftime, when they led 33-11, and scored the first seven points of the second half to stretch the lead to 29 points.Another run a few minutes later, keyed by six points from Sloan, saw Texas A&M outscore the Bulldogs 13-4 and push the lead to 53-20 with about 11 minutes remaining."It was good to get their confidence back and play the way we're capable of playing," Turgeon said. "Defense is our identity and for us to be good we have to guard. We have to guard to give ourselves a chance."The Citadel (6-6) was led by Cameron Wells with 28 points. He was the only Bulldog who shot well, making 11 of the team's 18 baskets. The Bulldogs shot just 33 percent in their first trip to College Station and the first game against the Aggies since a 62-61 win in 1971.Texas A&M got a career-high four 3-pointers and 12 points from Nathan Walkup, and Khris Middleton added 11 points.The Aggies got in an early hole last week against the Lobos and were unable to overcome the deficit despite a late surge. This time they nipped an early deficit quickly and took this one over to cruise to the win.Turgeon made defense a focus in practice after his team's performance against New Mexico."We were on them pretty hard," Turgeon said. "We drilled them and we got back to the basics, almost like starting over defensively. Sometimes with these guys if you don't work on it all the time they don't execute it the way they should."The Citadel led 4-0 before Texas A&M went on a 19-2 run with about 13 minutes left in the first half. The Aggies made four 3-pointers in that span with Sloan hitting two of them.Zach Urbanus made a 3-pointer after that before the Bulldogs went on an almost nine minute scoring drought which allowed the Aggies to push the lead to 29-9."Their guys played their assignments really well and unfortunately for us we did not respond very well," The Citadel coach Ed Conroy said. "Some guys tried to do too much instead of trying to help those other guys like Urbanus and Wells get free."Texas A&M had more 3-pointers (6) in the first half than The Citadel had total baskets (5)."We got to see how good we could be defensively in this game holding them to 11 points in the first half," Walkup said. "Now we've got to take that confidence on the road to Washington to play well."The Aggies face Washington (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) on Tuesday.