Missouri can't climb out of early hole

Missouri guard Michael Dixon (11) tries for a basket against Texas A&M guard Dash Harris (5) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in the first round of the Big 12 men's basketball tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, March 10, 2011.

Missouri guard Michael Dixon (11) tries for a basket against Texas A&M guard Dash Harris (5) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in the first round of the Big 12 men's basketball tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, March 10, 2011. Photo by The Associated Press.

David Loubeau scored Texas A&M’s first eight points and got the Aggies off to a quick start en route to an 86-71 victory over Missouri Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.

Loubeau and B.J. Holmes combined for 31 points in a first half that ended with A&M leading 46-33 over a team it squeaked past 91-89 in overtime Jan. 15. They each finished with 20.

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Missouri guard Kim English (24) works against Texas A&M guard Derrek Lewis, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the second round of the Big 12 men's tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, March 10, 2011.

The Tigers (23-10), who have lost eight in a row to A&M, will nervously await Sunday’s announcement by the NCAA tournament selection committee. Ranked as high as ninth earlier this season, they’ve dropped three of their last four and fallen completely out of the poll.

In tonight’s semifinals, the third-seeded Aggies (24-7) will hook up with ancient enemy and second-seeded Texas in the 220th game between the two, the most-played rivalry in Texas A&M history.

The No. 10 Longhorns swept the season series this year in convincing fashion, winning by 21 at home and by 20 at Texas A&M.

Marcus Denmon had 22 points, Laurence Bowers 13 and Kim English 12 for Missouri. The Tigers tried to slow the Aggies with full-court pressure but nothing worked.

A&M outrebounded Missouri 35-27 and held them to 34 percent shooting.

The Aggies also got 16 points from Nathan Walkup.

The first few minutes were all Loubeau. The 6-foot-8 junior hit the opening bucket of the game, then converted two foul shots when Bowers fouled him, added a putback and then another bucket.

It was business as usual for the Tigers away from home despite a partisan crowd in downtown Kansas City. They were 17-1 in Mizzou Arena this year but 6-8 elsewhere. The cold-shooting Tigers were only 8-for-28 from the floor in the first half and went the first 6 minutes and 4 seconds of the second half without a field goal. Denmon’s 3-pointer broke the drought but by then the Aggies led 57-39.

Just 5 seconds into the second half, officials called a foul on A&M guard Dash Harris and then spent several minutes conferring and studying replays. Finally, they called an intentional foul on Harris against Denmon.

Denmon, who lay on the court a couple of minutes after the collision, made one free throw.

The Aggies then went on an 8-1 run, with Loubeau hitting a bucket and Kourtney Roberson finishing it off with a basket for a 54-34 bulge.

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