OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- It’s been said in the NCAA basketball tournament a team has to escape a game it's not expected to win with a victory to eventually take home the national title.
Well, how many exclamation points can the Aggies put behind the word escape to emphasize how they survived on Sunday night in the second round of the tournament against Northern Iowa.
Maybe 14 exclamation points, one for every point they scored in the last 33 seconds of regulation to force overtime.
Fourteen points in 33 seconds.
It truly was a miracle.
And with all due respect to Northern Iowa, it had to be a miracle after the way the Aggies performed the majority of the game.
A&M played its second worst half – Arizona State was No. 1 – all season, shooting a horrific 22 percent in the opening 20 minutes. The Aggies fell in love with the 3-point shot, hoisting up 13 from long range compared to 14 inside the line in the first 20 minutes. Making only two of those from long range had to have A&M coach Billy Kennedy wondering what offense they were running.
Leading scorers Danuel House and Jalen Jones were a combine 0-11 from the field.
Alex Caruso had four of the team’s six baskets. A&M had more turnovers and fouls, eight each, than field goals. Fortunately for the Aggies, they made 8 of 11 free throws. A&M went the final 10 minutes of the half making only one field goal attempt.
More fortunate for A&M was Northern Iowa shot 38 percent overall, 31 percent from long range and were 6 of 9 from the line. All numbers noticeably below their average.
Come Thursday against Oklahoma all those stats – good and bad -- may not be forgotten, but won’t make any difference, which is why the name of the game is survive and move on.