Texas A&M is accustomed to cruising at home, but coach Mark Turgeon doesn’t want his team to take any opponent for granted.
The No. 19 Aggies look to extend their 46-game non-conference home win streak Friday night when they try to end Akron’s four-game win streak.
Texas A&M (6-1) shook off a sluggish start to beat Prairie View A&M 84-59 on Wednesday night. The Aggies haven’t lost at home to a non-conference foe since a 58-51 NIT loss to Saint Joseph’s on March 23, 2005. They have won 59 straight home non-conference games in the regular season - all against unranked foes - since an 82-80 loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 13, 2003.
The 25-point margin of victory Wednesday hid a lackluster effort in which Texas A&M had 17 turnovers. The Aggies have 66 over their last four games.
“That was really disappointing. We had two turnovers where we just stepped out of bounds,” Turgeon said. “We have to be more aware of where we are on the court. We just weren’t ready to play. We were just thinking we were going to walk over this team.”
Texas A&M broke into the Top 25 this week for the first time since being ranked No. 22 on Feb. 18, 2008. Its school-record streak of 36 straight weeks in the Top 25 ended the following week.
The national ranking has made the Aggies a target.
“There’s a number in front of our name now,” Turgeon said. “People will get pretty excited to play us now. So Akron was an NCAA tournament team that a lot of my friends told me not to schedule. Well I did. So we’ll have to be really ready to play Friday night.”
Texas A&M never led Wednesday until taking a 23-21 lead with 4:29 left before halftime. Freshman Khris Middleton provided a spark with 17 points off the bench.
“We started slow,” Turgeon said. “Sometimes we get this really cool attitude.”
Leading scorer Donald Sloan had 11 points in a season-low 25 minutes. No other Aggie played more than 23 minutes as Turgeon used his bench liberally due to the lopsided score.
Texas A&M could get a better test from Akron (4-2), which won the Mid-American Conference title last season and lost to Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Zips feature a balanced attack with four players averaging at least eight points per game - led by Anthony “Humpty” Hitchens’ 10.7 scoring average.
Hitchens played his worst game of the season Sunday, making 1 of 13 shots for a season-low four points. The Zips overcame his poor effort by placing five in double figures in an 80-68 win over Niagara.
“We are not where we want to be right now, but we are getting there,” coach Keith Dambrot said. “I thought we tried much harder today. That was the best performance we have had as a team this year.”
Dambrot is in his sixth season with the Zips and is known best for coaching LeBron James and St.Vincent-St. Mary High School to two straight Ohio state titles from 2000-01.
Akron beat Texas A&M 75-67 in the only previous meeting Jan. 1, 1949.