Southern U.-Texas A&M Preview

BY foxsports • November 12, 2011

Already missing its first-year head coach, Texas A&M now must get by without its top player for the near future.

The No. 20 Aggies play their first game without injured star forward Khris Middleton when they try for a 62nd straight non-conference home victory Sunday against Southern University as part of the 2K Sports Classic.

Last season's leading scorer at 14.4 points per game, the 6-foot-7 Middleton had six points and three rebounds in 10 minutes when he was injured in Texas A&M's season-opening 81-59 rout of Liberty on Wednesday.

Initially thought to be a hamstring injury, an MRI exam later revealed that the junior partially tore his right meniscus. Middleton, who was second on team with 5.2 rebounds per game in 2010-11, is expected to miss 3-4 weeks after undergoing surgery Friday.

His injury is the latest blow to hit the Aggies, who are already without head coach Billy Kennedy indefinitely after he took a leave of absence following his recent diagnosis of early stage Parkinson's disease. Associate coach Glynn Cyprien guided the team Friday but Kennedy said he expects to return "soon."

"We're looking forward to a great season, a season with (Kennedy) on the sideline, Texas A&M senior guard Dash Harris told the school's official website.

Though it remains to be seen how the absences of both Middleton and Kennedy affect the Aggies down the road, they should be in good shape Sunday after they shot 65.4 percent versus Liberty.

Forward Ray Turner scored 20 points while Elston Turner added 16 as the Aggies opened with a 24-4 run and never looked back.

"We've just got to keep playing consistent, hard, and not give up on loose-ball plays," Turner said. "We've got to keep the intensity up.''

A transfer from Washington were he spent two seasons as a backcourt reserve, Turner could be counted on to pick up some of the offensive slack until Middleton returns. Forward David Loubeau, who averaged 11.8 points and 5.0 rebounds last season, also should help on the offensive end after he scored 14 against Liberty.

Facing Southern for the first since beating the Jaguars 88-44 on Nov. 20, 2005, Texas A&M has not lost to a non-conference opponent at home since falling 58-51 to St. Joseph's on March 23, 2005. The Aggies have allowed just 55.3 points per contest during that home winning streak.

The Aggies are 2-1 all-time versus Southern, with both victories coming in College Station.

Southern opened the season with a 67-48 victory over Dillard University of the NAIA on Friday. Michael Celestin and Russell Hill each scored 14 points while senior forward Quinton Doggett added 13 as the Jaguars shot 47.1 percent to win their first opener since 2007-08.

Doggett averaged 7.8 points last season and is the top returning scorer from a squad which finished 4-26 in 2010-11.

Texas A&M continues play in the 2K Sports Classic on Thursday against Mississippi State at Madison Square Garden.

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