A&M survives big free-throw disparity
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy has a future in politics.
His 19th-ranked Aggies had just beaten St. John's 58-57 on Friday in the third-place game of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer at Madison Square Garden.
Texas A&M made 2 of 3 free throws in the game. St. John's, meanwhile, made 22 of 38 — just 5 of 13 over the final 6:21, including Nurideen Lindsey missing two with 2.3 seconds left.
Kennedy was asked if he felt the discrepancy in free throws was because of some home cooking since the Red Storm are from New York City and play most of their home games in Madison Square Garden.
Looking at a room full of reporters, Kennedy, who is in his first season at Texas A&M, came up with one of those answers that must be taught at schools of diplomacy.
''New York is a great city,'' he said, drawing laughs. Then he told everyone what he really thought.
''I think justice was served at the end. We were fortunate,'' he said. ''I've never been in a situation where it was that big of a discrepancy.
''We did foul, but I thought we'd get more free throws. That's how the game was called.''
Elston Turner hit a 12-foot jumper with 6 seconds to play — his only points of the second half — that turned out to be the game-winner for the Aggies (3-1). Turner grabbed the final rebound when Lindsey missed the second free throw that could have tied the game.
''I wouldn't believe it. I don't think I've ever played a game like that. Thirty-eight to three, that's some serious adversity right there and that just shows the character of our team,'' Turner said.
His winning basket wasn't exactly what was drawn up.
''The play didn't go as planned,'' said Turner, who finished with eight points. ''I was trying to make a quick move and they did a great job of cutting me off.''
Lindsey's misses capped a horrible final few minutes at the line for the Red Storm (3-2).
Teammate D'Angelo Harrison wouldn't let anybody blame Lindsey for the loss.
''Everybody missed at least two free throws,'' he said. ''I missed two so I lost the game, not Nuri.''
Ray Turner had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Aggies, who are playing the first month of the season without Big 12 All-Conference pick Khris Middleton. He had surgery on his right knee Nov. 11.
Lindsey and Harrison both had 12 points for the Red Storm, who seemed to overcome every failure except for the missed foul shots, something that has plagued them so far this season.
Lindsey made two free throws with 4:23 left to tie the game at 55. David Loubeau, hampered by foul trouble all game, scored down low to give the Aggies a 56-55 lead but he missed the free throw that could have given him a three-point play. That play came 14 seconds after God'sgift Achiuwa missed two free throws for St. John's.
Lindsey made one of two free throws to tie it with 2:21 to go and Harrison did the same for a 57-56 lead with 21 seconds left.
Texas A&M held a 24-11 rebound advantage in the first half in taking a 32-30 lead. St. John's was outrebounded 38-31 for the game.
The Red Storm went 2 of 8 on 3-point attempts in the first half but they steadied from the outside to finish 5 for 18.
The only place they struggled all game was at the free throw line.
''It was frustrating from the point that we made things kind of like a moving target,'' St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. ''It was like moving the bucket. You think you have a leak fixed and then you have to move the bucket someplace else. It is frustrating, but this is a young team. But we have to search for some positives.''