Texas A&M holds off Alabama to stay unbeaten

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Mark Turgeon heard so much about Donald Sloan before he took over as coach at Texas A&M he expected big things from the sophomore.

Early on Sloan didn't live up to the hype, so Turgeon challenged him to play better. Sloan has responded and had 15 points and a career-high eight assists to help No. 9 Texas A&M remain undefeated with a 76-63 win victory over Alabama on Wednesday night.

It's the second time in the last three games Sloan has led the Aggies in scoring.

"He got on me and said everybody is saying, 'You're this, you're that' but you've got to show me," said Sloan, who also had a career-high six rebounds. "If somebody says that ... you've just got to show them."

It was Texas A&M's first game in College Station since capturing the NIT Season Tip-Off championship with a 70-47 victory over Ohio State on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Turgeon said he has been impressed with Sloan's recent improvement.

"So much was said about Sloan coming into this job and I didn't see it for so long," Turgeon said. "In New York he kind of grew up and he was really good tonight."

Alabama got within two points of the Aggies (7-0) early in the second half, but wouldn't get any closer.

The Crimson Tide (3-2) cut A&M's lead to 50-47 on a 3-pointer by Rico Pickett with about 12 minutes left before Josh Carter answered with a 3 for the Aggies. Sloan extended his arms above his head to signal the 3 just before the shot swished through the net.

Sloan then stole the ball from Mykal Riley and made a layup to make it 55-47.

Crimson Tide star Richard Hendrix, who finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, had a layup with about eight minutes left to cut A&M's lead to six points, but Dominique Kirk scored four quick points to make it 61-51.

"He had to play 36 minutes tonight and that's really too many for him, but we had some foul trouble," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said of Hendrix. "He is a terrific player for us and we just need to have some other guys step up around him."

Hendrix made two free throws before the Aggies scored five straight points punctuated by Chinemelu Elonu's dunk to take a 66-53 lead with five minutes left to put this one out of reach.

Kirk added 14 points and Carter had 13 for the Aggies.

"Things didn't go great tonight," Turgeon said. "But we had guys step up. We're building depth each and every game. We're getting better."

Hendrix scored 13 points in the first half, but was slowed in the second half by physical defense by A&M's DeAndre Jordan and Elonu. Alonzo Gee also scored 19 points for Alabama, but had six turnovers.

"We just made some real poor errors and every time we did that they made a key shot or key play," Gottfried said. "You can't afford to do those type of things against a good team. Our ballhandling at key times, I thought, did us in."

Alabama outscored A&M 8-2 in the opening minutes of the second half to cut the Aggies' lead to 46-44. Sloan added four straight points to stretch the lead back to six with about 12 minutes left.

Jordan had his 16th dunk of the season in the first half. In just seven games, the freshman has already outdone Carter's team-leading 12 dunks from last season.

The Aggies led by four points before Sloan made two free throws and a 3-pointer in the last minute of the first half to push A&M's lead to 44-35.

Texas A&M had a season-high crowd of 10,328, including former president George H. W. Bush.