Aggies overcome Beasley, Kansas St.

KANSAS CITY, MO The key is making sure the other players don't hurt you, either.

Texas A&M did just that against Kansas State, earning a trip to Big 12 tournament semifinals -- and probably the NCAA tournament.

Dominique Kirk hit five 3-pointers and had 19 points, and Josh Carter hit two free throws with 7 seconds left to help Texas A&M hold off third-seeded Kansas State 63-60 Friday night in a Big 12 tournament quarterfinal.

Texas A&M (24-9) shot 50 percent -- a huge improvement from its first-round game against Iowa State -- and didn't let anyone besides Beasley do much of anything, winning its second straight conference tournament game after going 1-11 the previous 11 years.

"If you've got a great player like Michael Beasley, they're hard to hold down," Kirk said. "We went out there and just tried to execute every play."

Bryan Davis had 11 points, Carter added 10 and Kirk was 5-of-6 from 3-point range to all but secure Texas A&M's third straight trip to the NCAA tournament. Next up for the Aggies is Saturday's semifinals against fifth-ranked Kansas, which needed a big second half to beat Nebraska to advance.

"We just want to keep winning," Carter said. "We don't want to put our trust in the committee. We want it to be in our hands."

Beasley finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, but Bill Walker (10 points) was the only other double-figures scorer for Kansas State (20-11). Still, the quick exit shouldn't hurt the Wildcats. Based on the regular season and the strength of the Big 12, they still should get into the NCAA tournament for the first time in a dozen years.

"If playing 16 games and then one conference tournament in the Big 12 doesn't prepare us to be an NCAA team, then no season will ever prepare us to be an NCAA team," a somewhat defensive Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "This conference is unbelievable."

Texas A&M's big front line gave Beasley some trouble in the teams' first meeting on Jan. 19. But, thanks to some creative substituting by Martin, Beasley still finished with 21 points and the Wildcats ran away with a 75-54 win over the then-No. 10 Aggies.

Beasley again got two fouls in the first half, but not until the 1:29 mark -- and after he had his way with the Aggies.

Texas A&M started with Joseph Jones on Beasley, tried Davis for a spell, then Chinemelu Elonu. No one could slow him down.

The Big 12 player of the year used his quickness to get around the two slower post players and pulled up for jumpers before they could react, getting 14 points by halftime.

The Aggies did a better job of containing Beasley early in the second half, holding him scoreless for nearly 7 minutes. Beasley did spark a late Kansas State run with a 3-point play and scored on a hard drive with just under a minute left to get the Wildcats within 61-60, but missed on a runner with 9 seconds left.

"We just wanted to swarm when he got the ball in the post," Carter said. "We just dug down, everybody help. He's a great player, though, and he made some great shots."

Kansas State still had a chance after Carter made two free throws, but Kansas State's Clent Stewart threw up a wild 3-pointer that barely hit the backboard. The senior followed his shot and managed to tap it out to Jacob Pullen, but his 3-pointer hit front rim and bounced out.

"(My shot) was off but we got the rebound and kicked it back out to Jake," Stewart said. "Unfortunately, it just didn't go in."

Unlike its grinding, 60-47 win over Iowa State in the first round, Texas A&M played much more crisply against Kansas State, particularly on offense.

The Aggies hit from the perimeter early -- Kirk had three 3-pointers in the first four minutes -- and had good interior passing, setting up easy shots at the rim. Texas A&M shot 15-of-27 to lead by five at halftime, then stretched the lead to 47-38 over the first 6 1/2 minutes of the second half.

"Coach said we started pretty slow yesterday and then picked it up toward the end, so we wanted to come out and get it rolling early today," said Jones, who had five points and six rebounds. "It worked for us."

Texas A&M's 7-foot freshman center DeAndre Jordan returned after missing Thursday's game with a stomach virus, but lasted just five minutes and didn't score.

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