- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Bryan Davis drove to the basket, drew a foul and tossed the ball up over his head with his back to the net.

Like most of his higher-percentage shots, it went in.

With Davis leading the way, Texas A&M; beat Brigham Young 79-66 in the first round of the West Regional on Thursday.

Davis scored 21, Donald Sloan had 14 and the ninth-seeded Aggies handed the Cougars their seventh straight opening-round loss in a rematch from last year. Both teams drew the same seeds last March when A&M; won 67-62.

The Aggies (24-9) will meet the Connecticut-Chattanooga winner Saturday.

Jimmer Fredette scored 18 and Lee Cummard added 17 for BYU (25-8).

Looking for its first tournament win since 1993, BYU came out flat. An outstanding perimeter-shooting team during the season, the Cougars couldn’t make a shot early.

Meanwhile, the Aggies couldn’t miss. A&M; made its first 10 shots and built a 22-7 lead less than eight minutes in. Davis had eight of those 22 on three mid-range jumpers and a reverse layup.

The Cougars missed six straight shots after Emery started the game with a 3-pointer. They were 3-for-15 at one point, and finished 23-for-59 (39 percent), far below their season average of 48.7 percent.

BYU trailed 26-8 when coach Dave Rose called a timeout before the midpoint of the first half. Whatever he said worked. Jonathan Tavernari and Cummard hit consecutive 3s, sparking a 16-6 run that pulled the Cougars within 32-24.

But the Aggies quickly answered with a run of their own. B.J. Holmes nailed a pair of 3s to make it 40-27 and A&M; took a 42-30 lead into halftime.

BYU cut the deficit to single digits only once in the second half after Fredette’s driving layup capped off a mini 6-0 run to make it 47-38.

But the Aggies pulled away with seven straight points. Nathan Walkup had two layups sandwiched around Josh Carter’s 3-pointer to make it 54-38.

An alley-oop slam by Derrick Roland off a pass from Dash Harris extended the lead to 60-44. BYU never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Carter, the Aggies’ leading scorer, wasn’t a factor in the first half, when he scored only two of his 10 points. Carter’s teammates, especially Davis, had no trouble picking up the slack. Five players scored in double figures.

A&M; now heads to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year. The four straight appearances in the tourney already are a school record.

The Aggies were only 3-7 in the Big 12 a month ago and seemed unlikely to get an NCAA bid. But A&M; won six in a row to end the regular season, before losing to Texas Tech in the conference tournament.

For BYU, it’s another disappointing end to a strong season. The Cougars have won 20 games four straight years under Rose after going 9-21 in 2004-05. But they haven’t had any postseason success.

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