It was far from a perfect night for A&M’s junior guard Elston Turner, but it definitely ended on a high note. Turner hit a three in the corner with under a minute to play to send the Aggies into overtime, where he scored seven more points for a game high 23, leading the Aggies capture an 81-75 victory over Oklahoma.
“I didn’t really have a great shooting night,” Turner said afterwards. “I missed a lot of open shots, but the coaches kept telling m that I was going to hit the next one. So coach drew a play up for me to hit the next shot. When I got the ball I had a feeling it was going to go in.”
If you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t believe that Turner was a first year player for the Aggies. His leadership has been important and he’s already hit several clutch shots this season. He talked about the confidence that his coach has in him to take the final shot.
“it’s a great confidence builder for me to know that they have the trust that I can hit big shots and I can have the ball with ten seconds left. It’s a great feeling,” he said.
When junior swingman Khris Middleton went down in the first half, the Aggies needed players to step up, and a surprising player answered the call for Billy Kennedy. Naji Hibbert came off the bench and scored nine points in the game. Turner talked about his teammate.
“We’ve always known Naji can play, it’s just a confidence thing,” he said. “If he builds confidence and gets it going then he can be a productive player like you say tonight. I think tonight really helped him. With Khris down especially, we really need him. If he can just keep his confidence up we’ll see a lot more of Naji being that productive of a player.”
Another big key to yesterday’s win was the efficient play of post man David Loubeau. Loubeau scored 16 points on just 11 shots, shooting 7 of 11 from the field.
“I don’t think it’s a confidence thing with David,” said Turner. “He’s proven he can be an effective player in the post. I think it’s just a combination of him getting good shots and him making them. The confidence is there.”
The win came in front of the season’s largest crowd at Reed Arena, and the crowd was definitely a factor late in the game. Now, the Aggies hope that Saturday’s win can carry over into their Monday Night contest with Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, a place where the Aggies have had just one win in history.
“It was a great environment today,” said Turner. “I felt like we owed it to them to come out with a win like this. We just hope for the rest of the home games that we still have that support.”
He added, “I’ve never been to Allen Fieldhouse, but it’s a great venue. I’ve seen it on TV, and going into there it’s going to be a tough environment, but I feel like we can get the win.”
Turner said that the Aggies aren’t afraid of playing in one of the nation’s most historic venues.
“It’s more excitement,” he said. “So many great players have been through there and played there, we look at it as an opportunity. We’re not intimidated by it, we’ll see on Monday.”
The junior guard also said that he doesn’t think fans have seen the best that this A&M team can be.
“We still haven’t played to the best of our ability yet,” he said .”We have a lot of injuries, Khris isn’t 100%, Kourtney is still out. When we all get going you’re going to see our best. We feel like we can still make the tournament, but we need everybody to buy into that and trust each other. We can still have a great season.”