Long Arm Of The Law Carries Texas A&M

Saturday, March 17th 2007, 6:06 pm
By: News On 6

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ A hostile crowd. A big shot. A season on the line. All in a day's work for Acie Law. The Texas A&M point guard whose cool demeanor earned him the nickname ``Captain Clutch,'' did it again. Law took over late and led the Aggies past Louisville 72-69 Saturday in the second round of the South Regional.

The 3rd-seeded Aggies (27-6) reached the round of 16 for the first time in 27 years, surviving a raucous Rupp Arena crowd.

Rick Pitino's Cardinals had their chances, too. Especially Edgar Sosa.

Sosa scored 31 points but, after going 15-15 from the foul line, missed 2-free throws with 30 seconds left and Louisville trailing by a point.

The 6th-seeded Cardinals (24-10) caught a break when Texas A&M's Joseph Jones missed 2-free throws at the other end. Sosa got another chance, but hit the back of the rim on a long 3-point attempt.

With a large sea of red-clad Louisville fans who made the short trip to Rupp screaming, Law made 2-free throws with 1.7 seconds to go, giving him 26 points.

Sosa's halfcourt heave bounced off the top of the backboard at the buzzer, setting off a jubilant celebration for the Aggies.

In the end, Law and the Aggies were simply too tough, too poised, too ready to make the next step under third-year coach Billy Gillispie.

The hugs for the Aggies were well-earned after a physical matchup between two of the better defensive teams, one that featured 70 free throws and 51 fouls.

Louisville did its best to frustrate the Aggies with their full-court pressure, but Texas A&M handled it easily even with Law frequently bouncing from the bench to the floor after picking up his second foul about halfway through the first half.

The Aggies said before the game they wouldn't be bothered by the hostile atmosphere, which featured thousands of Louisville fans who made the 80-mile trip east for the game.

While they were clearly rattled at points, the Aggies turned the ball over just three times in the second half while Louisville and its roster packed with underclassmen finally ran out of magic.

The win gives the Aggies some validation for their rise under Gillispie, who has turned the Aggies from a Big 12 also-ran into a rising national power in just three years.

Still, for awhile in the 2nd half it appeared the Aggies' season would end with a second-round disappointment at the hands of a quickly improving team for the second straight season.

Last year it was LSU and Glen Davis who sent the Aggies home. Saturday it was Sosa, the New York City point guard whose dynamic play helped lead Louisville's remarkable turnaround season.

While Louisville centers David Padgett and Derrick Caracter struggled to stay out of foul trouble, Sosa threw his 6'1 frame into the breach, attacking the basket again and again, often drawing a foul or twisting in for a layup.

But Sosa faltered just enough for Law and the Aggies to move on.