COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)—Khris Middleton squirmed as his teammates raved about his play. The sophomore forward said he doesn’t like all the attention.
He better get used to it.
Texas A&M’s nondescript team built on defense may have finally found its star, even if he would prefer to sink into the shadows.
“Before overtime I told him: ‘Just take over the game,”’ coach Mark Turgeon said. “He took over.”
The Aggies (16-1, 3-0 Big 12) trailed by one before Middleton swiped the ball from Marcus Denmon and converted a layup with 34 seconds remaining. Missouri had a chance to go in front again but had another costly turnover.
Middleton made three free throws to extend the lead to 91-87, and Missouri’s Laurence Bowers had a tip-in at the buzzer for the final margin.
“He did a good job,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said of Middleton. “He answered every time we made a play.”
The Tigers (15-3, 1-2) were ahead 87-85 after a 3-pointer by Denmon with about 90 seconds left in OT. B.J. Holmes made one of two free throws before Middleton’s bucket.
Middleton, who leads the Aggies with 15.8 points per game, played down his overtime performance.
“I was kind of feeling it,” he said. “I don’t think I was really feeling it. I just really wanted to win.”
Holmes overhead Middleton’s modesty and promptly teased him about his look following his third basket in overtime—a step-back jumper that gave Texas A&M an 85-84 lead.
“On that step back you was feeling it,” Holmes said. “I saw his face after that and he never makes facial expressions but he made one then.”
Middleton was 4 for 5 in overtime and his only miss was his first shot, an errant layup.
“I told him: ‘Khris, I’ve got all the confidence in the world in you and your teammates do, too,”’ Turgeon said. “Even though you missed the first one, I’m coming right back to you, and we’ll keep coming to you.”
Texas A&M improved to 3-0 in the Big 12 for just the second time and first since the 2006-07 season.
Middleton sunk a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left in regulation for his first points of the second half, tying it at 77. The Tigers had a chance for the win, but Phil Pressey missed a jumper in the lane.
Anderson was upset that Texas A&M shot 38 free throws to his team’s 19. He also was unhappy there wasn’t a foul called on Pressey’s last shot in regulation.
“Foul, big-time foul,” he said when asked about the play. “I think the 11,000 in this audience witnessed it, but the ones that should have seen it didn’t see it.”
Pressey was also disappointed he didn’t get a call.
“Of course I felt like I got fouled,” he said. “But in a game on the road, I’m not going to get the same calls. We just have to learn and mature.”
Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe had 19 points apiece for Missouri, which has lost seven straight to Texas A&M.
“We had the opportunity to finish it and we didn’t,” Anderson said. “We had a lot of mental errors.”
It was the first overtime game for the Aggies at home since they lost 116-110 in five OTs against Baylor in 2008.
Nathan Walkup added 16 points for Texas A&M and David Loubeau had 12 points.
Walkup said Middleton is beginning to fill the role that former Aggies top scorer Donald Sloan had last season.
“Everybody all year says that’s what we’re going to miss a guy like Sloan,” Walkup said. “We have a go-to scorer now and we need one.”
Bowers had a chance to give Missouri a three-point lead with 27 seconds left in regulation, but he went 1 for 2 from the line and Middleton tied it with his foul shots. The Tigers led by four before Dash Harris converted a three-point play for Texas A&M with just under a minute remaining.
Texas A&M used a 10-4 surge to take a 59-51 lead with 14 minutes to play. Naji Hibbert capped the spurt with a 3-pointer.
The Aggies recovered after getting off to a horrible start. Denmon’s 3-pointer about 3 minutes into the game made it 11-2 and Missouri led 19-7 before A&M went on an 11-0 run to get within one with 9 minutes left in the first half.
The 12-point deficit was Texas A&M’s largest of the season.