COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon burst through the doors from the court and let out a scream as he jumped down the hallway.
His 24th-ranked Aggies had just wrapped up third place in the Big 12 conference with a 66-54 win over Texas Tech on Saturday and he couldn't contain his joy.
``To be 4-4 four weeks ago and wondering where we're going to go, then to finish 10-6, I'm just really proud of this group,' he said. ``The highest we were picked was sixth and some people picked us eighth and rightfully so, we lost three good players. But this team was just really determined. We've got winners.'
David Loubeau scored 21 points for the Aggies, who already had secured a bye in next week's conference tournament.
Texas A&M (23-7, 10-6) put together a 9-0 run to stretch its lead to 43-30 with just over 14 minutes remaining. The biggest highlight from the spurt was a dunk by Loubeau that came after a nifty pass from B.J. Holmes.
The Red Raiders went almost four minutes without scoring, thanks to turnovers and missed layups, as Texas A&M added to its lead.
Texas Tech (13-18, 5-11) got 14 points from David Tairu.
The 6-foot-8 Loubeau hurt Texas Tech inside, collecting four dunks. His last slam came after Mike Singletary's dunk attempt for Tech bounced off the rim and Khris Middleton found Loubeau out front with about six minutes left.
``I was just getting the ball and being aggressive,' Loubeau said. ``B.J. and Dash (Harris) was doing a great job of finding me in transition and I just had my hands ready.'
That dunk was part of a 9-2 Texas A&M run capped by a 3-pointer by Nathan Walkup that extended the lead to 57-40 and left Texas Tech coach Pat Knight shaking his head.
``They got after us pretty well,' Knight said. ``We did not shoot well in the second half. We had our chances, but we just didn't capitalize.'
Turgeon loved Texas A&M's defensive effort in the second half and was happy that the team responded after he asked them to be tougher at halftime.
``Our defense is just at another level right now,' he said. ``I feel good about this team right now.'
The Red Raiders put together a 14-6 run, part of it coming against Texas A&M backups, to close to 63-54 with a minute left. Turgeon put his starters back in and they hit three free throws to end Tech's comeback attempt.
The Aggies edged Texas Tech 70-67 in the first meeting, but were in control of this one for most of the second half. The Red Raiders were coming off an 84-58 win over Oklahoma and Texas A&M bounced back from Wednesday's 64-51 loss at No. 2 Kansas.
Texas A&M's No. 3 seed in the tournament is the second highest in school history behind the second seed the Aggies had in 2007.
Holmes, one of five seniors playing in their last home game, had five points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists before fouling out with just under four minutes remaining. Fellow senior Walkup finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Walkup said when Loubeau is having a game like he did Saturday it helps the whole team.
``It's huge,' he said. ``We can throw the ball into the post with 10 seconds left and know you're going to get a high-percentage shot.'
Middleton added 13 points for Texas A&M.
D'walyn Roberts had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Texas Tech. Knight raved about Roberts, who is one of seven seniors on the team.
``He's a great kid,' Knight said. ``I wish I had 13 of him on this team.'
Texas Tech was ahead by two early in the first half but the Aggies led 30-26 at the break.
The Associated Press News Service
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