Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon was concerned with how his team would respond to playing right before the holiday last week, but little has distracted it while playing at home over the last seven years.
The 18th-ranked Aggies look to win their ninth straight overall and 72nd consecutive regular-season, non-conference home game when they meet McNeese State on Friday.
Texas A&M (11-1) has matched the second-best start in school history and is looking to improve to 12-1 for the third time in four years.
After close victories over Washington and Arkansas, the Aggies cruised to an 86-51 win against Wagner on Dec. 21. The game was tied at 13-all before Texas A&M went on an 11-0 run to take a 40-20 lead into the break. The Aggies then shot 60.0 percent in the second half.
“This is one of those games that scares you as a coach because it’s right before Christmas,” Turgeon said. “Just keeping their attention is tough.”
Leading scorer Khris Middleton was held to nine points—the second time he scored below 10 this season—but the sophomore forward had four assists. David Loubeau scored 16 and Nathan Walkup had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“We didn’t call a lot of plays for (Middleton),” Turgeon said. “We didn’t force anything. We ran some plays for David, B.J. (Holmes) and Naji (Hibbert). Khris just let it come, he’s really unselfish.”
Texas A&M has two more home games before it begins Big 12 play at Oklahoma on Jan. 8. The Aggies’ last loss at Reed Arena against a non-Big 12 team during the regular season was 82-80 to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in 2003.
McNeese State (8-4) doesn’t seem likely to challenge that streak. It has won six of seven, although three of the victories came against non-Division I teams. The Cowboys are coming off a 100-61 win over Southwest of the NAIA on Dec. 21.
McNeese State led 43-7 with less than 5 minutes remaining before halftime and was ahead by at least 26 points throughout the entire second half. Six players scored in double figures, led by Jeremie Mitchell, who had 20 points and made 4 of 7 3-pointers.
Patrick Richard (foot) and Diego Kapelan (shoulder) sat out but are expected to play Friday. Richard is leading the team with 15.9 points and 1.6 steals per game, while Kapelan is second with an average of 14.0 points.
“We had a lot of guys step up,” coach Dave Simmons said. “A lot of them got in some good quality minutes and made a strong contribution. We showed that we do have some depth at guard.”
The Cowboys have lost eight straight on the road, falling 118-64 to then-No. 18 Washington on Nov. 13 in their only meeting with a ranked team this season.
Texas A&M leads the series against McNeese State 3-1, winning the last two.