The Utah State Aggies seemed poised to make a statement to the world that they did in fact deserve their at-large berth. But, after they jumped out to a fast and furious 5-4 lead, the game took a page from an old western movie and called on a sharp-shooting stranger to save them from a first round death against a team who was supposed to have the sharpest aim in town.
When freshman “Outlaw” Khris Middleton knocked down the first of his five three-pointers five and half minutes into the first half, it was the start of a cool and collected shooting attack that could have only been more perfect if he came barreling through swinging doors and wearing spurs.
Middleton, who averaged 7 points per game on the season, would pour in 17 of his career-high 19 points in a 15-minute period that saw Texas A&M turn a one-point lead into a 14-point margin. The strong performance came on the heels of a three-game tear that has seen the 6’7” forward average 16 points after only hitting double digits in six of his team’s first twenty-nine games.
Thanks to Middleton’s shooting barrage, the Aggies (Texas edition) were able to make up for star guard Donald Sloan only scoring 10. A&M also benefited from 14 points from forward David Loubeau and 11 points from junior B.J. Holmes, who put on a shooting display of his own by going 3-5 from downtown.
Meanwhile, Utah State, winners of 17 in a row, ends their season with two consecutive losses, the last of which came in the most surprising fashion. Utah State is the one usually doing the sharpshooting.
Someone just forgot to tell the stranger with the deadly aim.