COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)—Mark Turgeon was so concerned about the Aggies’ progress he didn’t have time to get worked up about his first game at Texas A&M.
He allowed himself a moment to celebrate after he picked up his first win though.
“We will enjoy it tonight,” he said. “Then we’ll wake up and get back to work tomorrow.”
Freshman DeAndre Jordan scored 12 points and Josh Carter had 14 to lead the 16th-ranked Aggies to a 73-50 victory over McNeese State on Friday night for their eighth straight win in a home opener.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m … old and I’ve been around forever, but my dad called and said: ‘Are you excited? You sound like you’re not excited,”’ Turgeon said. “I’ve just kind of gotten used to it. I was excited, but I’m more worried about our team and where we are and us playing better.”
Turgeon, who came to Texas A&M from Wichita State, took over in April after Billy Gillispie left for Kentucky. The 42-year-old takes over a program that rose from the Big 12 basement to the NCAA tournament round of 16 in the three seasons under Gillispie.
Texas A&M (1-0) won a school-record 27 games in 2006-07, giving the Aggies three straight 20-win seasons.
Jordan, A&M’s prized recruit, started and wowed the crowd with four two-handed dunks, grabbed two rebounds and had a block.
“I was pleased with him,” Turgeon said. “He’s coming. He’s a quick study. He wants to be good and we need him to be.”
The 7-footer showed the kind of inside power the Aggies could have when he’s paired with senior Joseph Jones. Jones had 11 points in limited action. Turgeon is not allowing his freshmen to talk to the media yet, so Jordan was not available for comment.
The Aggies shook off a slow start to lead 41-26 at halftime and outscored McNeese State 22-9 in the opening minutes of the second half to stretch their lead 63-35.
McNeese State (0-1) was led by Jarvis Bradley with 12 points, while Rorey Lawrence and John Ford added 11 each.
Dominique Kirk and Donald Sloan took turns at point guard in A&M’s first game without All-American Acie Law IV, who was the 11th pick in the NBA draft. The two combined for 15 points and Kirk had six assists.
Turgeon called Kirk’s development at point guard since he took over “amazing.”
“I cannot believe how much better Dominique Kirk has gotten at point guard,” Turgeon said. “At the first practice I was like: ‘Oh no I’ve got problems.’ He just keeps getting better and better. He makes the game look easy because he’s so intelligent.”
A 3-pointer by Kirk gave the Aggies a 22-20 lead and Texas A&M outscored McNeese State 9-2 over the next two minutes, punctuated by Jordan’s two-handed dunk with about seven minutes left that made it 31-22.
The normally raucous crowd wasn’t too crazy on Friday, but did roar at each of Jordan’s dunks. As good as his debut was, he wasn’t without a couple of rookie mistakes. He was called for traveling once and missed an easy shot when it bounced off the side of the backboard.
The Cowboys took a 6-0 lead and were on top until Kirk’s 3 mostly due to poor shooting by the Aggies who missed three consecutive layups at one point in the first half.
Texas A&M was also subpar from the free throw line, making 13-of-23.
Carter, who hit three 3s, said the intensity Turgeon has in practice was amplified in this game.
“The way we started the game was not acceptable and he let us know that he was not going to have that,” Carter said. “He told us to play hard and that’s what did to get the win.”