Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said his team's offense showed some "Christmas rust" in its most recent game. The Aggies, though, continued to shine defensively.
In their non-conference finale, they'll try to slow down one of the nation's top scorers when they face Nicholls State swingman Anatoly Bose at home Monday night.
After getting nine days off, No. 16 Texas A&M found itself trailing McNeese State by 10 points with 7:51 remaining in the first half Friday and by seven at intermission. The Aggies held the visitors to 20 points over the final 20 minutes - tying their mark for fewest points in a half by an opponent this season - and came away with a 66-57 win despite shooting 38.5 percent.
Texas A&M is allowing opponents to score 56.7 points per game and shoot 37.6 percent this season.
"I talked to our players at halftime about not panicking - that we can't win every game by 20 points," Turgeon said. "We got back to being us in the second half. We had a little too much time off (for Christmas), and kind of a lackadaisical attitude at the start of the game."
"We're not ready today for Big 12 play, but we will be. We've got plenty of time to get ourselves ready."
Before opening the conference season Saturday at Oklahoma, the Aggies (12-1) will attempt to win 10 straight for the first time since Nov. 29, 2008-Jan. 5, 2009.
To help reach those marks, Texas A&M could use a strong performance on Bose, who is scoring 25.0 points per game. The senior from Sydney, Australia, led his school to its first win at in-state rival LSU in November, but the Colonels (6-4) have lost their past three road games.
Nicholls State has won five of seven overall but only one of those victories has come against a Division I team, 66-52 over Tulane on Nov. 26. Before their Christmas break, the Colonels claimed back-to-back home wins over NAIA schools Dillard and Jarvis Christian.
Bose scored 25 points in the 89-67 victory over Jarvis on Dec. 21, but it was junior guard Fred Hunter who led the way with 27. Hunter is the only other Nicholls player averaging in double figures (15.9 ppg) and is shooting 55.6 percent.
The Aggies, meanwhile, are probably hoping for a little more scoring from Khris Middleton, who is averaging a team-best 15.2 points.
Since posting a career-high 31 points in an overtime win over Arkansas on Dec. 18, the sophomore forward has a combined 22 over the past two games. He had a team-best 13 points on 3 of 10 shooting in Friday's win, and Nathan Walkup was the only other player to score in double figures with 10 points.
This is the first meeting between Texas A&M and Nicholls State.