HOUSTON -- As New Mexico's only senior, Roman Martinez always wants the chance to make a play with the game on the line.
He got it Saturday night.Martinez scored 22 points, including two key free throws in the final seconds, to lead New Mexico to an 84-81 victory over Texas A&M (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) at the Toyota Center."Ro's a big part of what we do at both ends of the floor," New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. "In those last seconds and those last possessions you want the ball in Ro's hands. That was a big in-bounds play to get him the ball and then Ro did the rest."New Mexico is 10-0 for the first time since the 1995-96 season."It's a huge, huge win for our program and our team," Alford said. "For a young team to do the things that we're doing, I'm very excited about it."Donald Sloan had 29 points for Texas A&M (8-2), which had a four-game winning streak snapped. The Lobos never trailed and were ahead by 17 points with 10 minutes left before fighting off a late rally by the Aggies.Texas A&M cut the lead to 82-81 on a 3-pointer by Khris Middleton with 10 seconds remaining before Martinez made the two free throws to secure the win. B.J. Holmes had a chance to tie it but his shot at the buzzer fell short."You can't give this team a chance to make a three to win it," Martinez said. "It needs to be a three-point game ... so it was important to make both of them. I felt I had to have the ball."Texas A&M cut the lead to two on a 3-pointer by Sloan with 30 seconds left. Both teams missed two free throws before A.J. Hardeman made two to give New Mexico an 82-78 lead with 16.9 seconds remaining."We were about as bad as we could be for about 28 minutes and then we decided to play," Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "We showed a little heart, a little effort down the stretch, we just couldn't get over the hump."Martinez made four of seven 3-pointers and the Lobos shot 59 percent from long range."We've got to play better," Turgeon said. "We're all about defense and there was not a lot of defense being played out there today."Darington Hobson added 18 points for New Mexico, and Dairese Gary had 14 points and six assists. Holmes had 14 points for A&M and Bryan Davis had 10 points and six rebounds.Texas A&M cut the lead to 10 points with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining when Middleton grabbed an offensive rebound and finished with a layup. Sloan hit two free throws seconds later before a miss by Martinez gave A&M the ball back.Sloan's layup on the ensuing possession got A&M within 67-61, but the Lobos scored five of the next seven points to stretch the lead back to nine."They played better," Turgeon said. "They deserved that one."New Mexico was ahead by 10 points with about 15 minutes remaining when Martinez made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to push the lead to 55-42.The first neutral site meeting between the schools might as well have been a home game for the Aggies. There was one section filled with Lobos fans that seemed to be louder than the Texas A&M fans for most of the game, although the Aggies fans came alive in the last 5 minutes."I thought they really got into it at the end," Turgeon said. "But we didn't give them anything to cheer about until the end."