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No. 18 West Virginia staves off Texas A&M

By The Sports Xchange 
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Guard Jevon Carter had 19 points and nine rebounds and No. 18 West Virginia survived some anxious moments while holding on for an 81-77 win over late-charging Texas A&M in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.
Esa Ahmad sank two free throws with 4.4 seconds left, finishing with 14 points and six assists for the Mountaineers (17-4), who made only 12 of 23 at the free throw line.
Some of those misses nearly allowed another massive comeback by the Aggies (11-9), who famously erased a 12-point deficit in the final 44 seconds to beat Northern Iowa in the NCAA Tournament last March.
This time, Texas A&M nearly rallied from 13 points down in the last 92 seconds.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said he was never comfortable "because I've seen too many leads disappear."
Reserve guard J.C. Hampton scored 11 of his 21 points in the final 1:32. His 3-pointer with 14 seconds left pulled Texas A&M within 79-77 to make the departing crowd nervous.
"That's why we can't let teams stick around," Carter said. "They start hitting shots like that, that's when miracles happen."
Tyler Davis finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds while Admon Gilder had 24 points and five assists for Texas A&M. But each player committed six turnovers, part of the Aggies' season-worst 23.
"We just lost to a hell of a team," said Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy.
Building off this week's win over No. 2 Kansas, the Mountaineers led by 20 early in the second half before Gilder's back-to-back 3s sparked a 17-5 surge that drew the Aggies within 59-53.
Still, West Virginia regained control and led 75-63 left before Hampton's 3-pointer launched Texas A&M's furious finish. The Aggies shot 53 percent in the second half and 7-of-12 from deep, including 4-of-4 by Hampton.
"We came out the second half and didn't play with any intensity," said Huggins, whose team was favored by 16 points. "Our effort (stunk). It absolutely (stunk)."
For periods of the game, Texas A&M looked like nothing more than the latest victim of "Press Virginia." Entering Saturday averaging 14 turnovers per game, the Aggies committed their 14th with 1:20 left in the first half.
West Virginia broke open a one-point game with a 17-0 run late in the half. Carter made two 3s and a layup in the stretch, which included four assists by Ahmad.
Reserve guard Beetle Bolden, inserted for the final 31 seconds, sank a 3-pointer from the left wing and the Mountaineers enjoyed a 45-29 halftime lead while shooting 58 percent.
"West Virginia's one of the best teams we've played all year," Kennedy said. "Their experience, their toughness, and if they shoot the ball like that they're going to be tough to beat."
NOTES:
-- Texas A&M played its second game without versatile sophomore DJ Hogg (13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists), who has a foot injury.
-- West Virginia had been 0-3 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
-- Aggies G Admon Gilder played 40 minutes for the third straight game.
-- The Mountaineers, among the most foul-prone teams in Division I at 20.5 per game, were whistled for only 13.
No. 18 West Virginia staves off Texas A&M Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 10:47 PM Rating: 5

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