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Aggies and Red Storm square off in Big Apple

The consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic ranked Texas A&M Aggies and the St. John's Red Storm this afternoon at New York's famed Madison Square Garden.

Texas A&M opened its season with two straight blowout victories over weak non- conference opponents, but last night's semifinal-round clash with Mississippi State certainly marked a spike in competition level. The Aggies fell by a 69-60 final, as they simply could not overcome an early 22-point deficit. A&M is a member of the Big 12 Conference and is expected to challenge for the title in that league.

St. John's is appearing in its fourth 2K Sports Classic, tying Memphis, Syracuse and Texas for the most appearances in tournament history. The Red Storm is 5-5 in the Classic, and one of the five defeats came yesterday to Arizona by an 81-72 final. Coach Steve Lavin lost most of his notable contributors from last season's highly successful club, so it remains to be seen if the crop of new faces can compete in the always tough Big East Conference.

This game marks the first-ever meeting between Texas A&M and St. John's on the hardwood.

Through three outings, Texas A&M is scoring 74.7 ppg on 54.1 percent shooting from the field while limiting opponents to 62.0 ppg on 38 percent field goal efficiency. Leading a trio of double-digit scorers is Ray Turner with 14.0 ppg, and his 70.4 percent field goal efficiency is staggering. Elston Turner checks in with 13.3 ppg, and David Loubeau adds 12.0 ppg to the mix. The Aggies managed to cut the early deficit from 22 points to just nine at intermission last night, and they even held Mississippi State to 33.3 percent shooting from the field in the second half. Unfortunately, A&M was only able to make good on 10 field goal attempts after the break, one of the more obvious reasons for the defeat. The Aggies finished the game with just nine assists against 16 turnovers and they were outscored from the foul line, 19-10.

St. John's opened the season with three consecutive victories, so it will be interesting to see how the young Red Storm bounce back from yesterday's nine- point setback. There are a few obvious reasons that the team fell short in that affair, the most obvious being that it committed 17 turnovers while dishing out nine assists. Also, it didn't help matters that the Red Storm hit 11 fewer three-pointers than their counterparts. Nurideen Lindsey scored 18 points to lead the way in the setback, but he turned the ball over seven times before fouling out. D'Angelo Harrison pitched in 16 points for the Red Storm, who played just seven men in the defeat. Lindsey leads his team with 16.8 ppg to date on 53.3 percent field goal efficiency, and Moe Harkless is close behind (15.8 ppg). Harrison (14.8 ppg) and God'sgift Achiuwa (14.3 ppg) provide balance for St. John's.