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Nebraska Cornhuskers take respect, but Texas A&M Aggies take 70-64 victory

KANSAS CITY – No one expected much from the Nebraska Cornhuskers this week.

No. 12 Nebraska will depart Kansas City having upset No. 5 Missouri on Wednesday and having put a serious scare into the No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies on Thursday. Despite never trailing, the Aggies needed all 40 minutes to put away the Huskers in a 70-64 victory for Texas A&M.

Most of the game was an expected midday lull in excitement at the Sprint Center, as a large number of the Kansas fans that saw the day's first game opted to leave before the second game of the early session. That translated into a fairly quiet arena for the majority of Texas A&M/Nebraska.

It was hard to fault them. The Sprint Center didn't feel like Kyle Field and Doc Sadler didn't look like Tom Osborne. Texas A&M led since the first minute, and all seemed to be going as expected.

Then Nebraska came to life, and with it, so too did the lifeless buzz that had settled over the Sprint Center.

The Huskers went on an 11-0 run in the middle of the second half as Texas A&M fought through a five-minute field goal drought.

In its upset victory of Missouri on Wednesday, Nebraska was able to minimize mistakes and drain a high percentage of shots. Though the shots fell at a decent clip for the Huskers, Nebraska had trouble protecting the ball.

The Huskers turned the ball over 11 times in the first half alone against Texas A&M, one day after surrendering the ball only 13 times all game against Missouri, the nation's leader in steals. The Aggies parlayed the turnovers into 12 of their 37 first-half points. Nebraska shored up their ball handling in the second half in making a run at the Aggies, but it was too little too late.

Perhaps one of the biggest revelations for the Huskers in their two-day trip tour in Kansas City was the development of freshman Jorge Brian Diaz, who likely pushed himself into All-Tournament Team conversation. The 6-11 forward from Puerto Rico created the inside presence Nebraska has sorely lacked since the departure of Aleks Maric after 2008. Diaz was 5-of-7 from the field against Missouri on Wednesday, and followed that performance with a 7-of-11 effort against Texas A&M.

The Aggies were paced by yet another solid performance from Donald Sloan, who had 23 points and four assists. Khris Middleton and B.J. Holmes added a combined 28 points.

With the win, Texas A&M moves on to face top-seeded Kansas in Friday's first semifinal game. That contest is slated for a 6 p.m. tipoff on Big 12 Network. The teams last met on Feb. 15, when the Jayhawks escaped College Station with an ugly 59-54 win.