Texas A&M, Penn State square off for Legends title

No. 16 Texas A&M was impressive in its first two games before adding sophomore power forward standout Robert Williams. Now, the Aggies look nearly invincible.

With Williams back from a suspension Monday, Texas A&M defeated previously unbeaten Oklahoma State 72-55 in a semifinal game of the Legends Classic at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

The Aggies (3-0) will try to adapt further with Williams back in the lineup when they face another unbeaten team, Penn State (5-0), in the championship game Tuesday. The Nittany Lions routed in-state rival Pitt 85-54 in the other semifinal.

Williams, a 6-foot-10, 241-pound sophomore rated as a potential lottery pick by some NBA scouts, had 11 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots against the Cowboys (3-1).

He missed Texas A&M's first two games because of an undisclosed violation of university policy. His presence is most pronounced on the defensive end with his selection last season as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Asked if he thought Oklahoma State shied away from him in the paint, Williams said: "I do my best not even to just block it, but to contest it."

Williams extended his streak with at least one blocked shot to 32 games. He was dynamic on the other end of the court as well, scoring nine points in the first half, eight coming on four alley-oop dunks.

Junior guard D.J. Hogg, Texas A&M's leading scorer in blowout wins over West Virginia and Cal Santa Barbara earlier this month, scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half against the Cowboys.

Senior center Tonny Trocha-Morelos scored 12 points and Admon Gilder had 10 for the Aggies.

"Our biggest strength is our depth," Aggies coach Billy Kennedy said. "We can play big. We can play small. We have a lot of guys who can score the basketball."

Penn State, prideful with its defense, is unbeaten after five games for the first time since 2008-09, when the Nittany Lions won the postseason NIT championship.

Pitt, which beat Penn State 81-73 last season, was the third opponent to score fewer than 60 points against the Nittany Lions this season.

"I just saw a team that was focused and ready to compete, and I'm proud of them," Penn State coach Pete Chambers said of the Nittany Lions. "Playing a team like Texas A&M will be awesome. We are going to come out and compete.

"They're long, athletic and have a lot of good pieces. They are coached very well. It will be a challenge, but our guys will be ready."

Penn State sophomore power forward Mike Watkins, who is 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds, will try to match up with Williams. Watkins is already sixth on Penn State's career list with 103 blocked shots, including 14 this season.

He made all six of his field-goal attempts against Pitt (1-3). The Nittany Lions had five other scorers in double figures, led by Tony Carr. The 6-foot-5 point guard had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including a 4-of-4 showing from 3-point range.

"We have great chemistry. We're evolving more as a team each day," Carr told Penn State's radio broadcast after the game. "Winning a championship in any tournament means everything. We'll come in against Texas A&M with the same approach and same attitude."

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