When a coach uses the term "old-school" in describing a player, it's inevitably a compliment of highest respect.
That's the case for Texas A&M senior Elston Turner, whom the Southeastern Conference coaches universally applaud.
Turner, the SEC's third-leading scorer at 17.6 points a game, has picked up a reputation of having one of the best midrange games in the country.
"He kind of has an old-school game with his ability to score in that range," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "He's got size, and he's very good with one, two dribble pullups in the midrange, which is kind of a lost art in this day and age of basketball."
Last season, Turner's first with A&M (16-12) after transferring from Washington, he was known more for his spot-up shooting, especially from behind the 3-point line. He made 70 of 180 treys, which accounted for 48 percent of his points.
The 6-foot-5 Turner has three games of 37 points or better this season. In those games only 36 percent of his points have come from behind the arc. Of the 115 combined points he scored against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee, he made 29 2-point field goals, 14 3-pointers and 15 of 17 from the free-throw line.
"I just had to do things to make me more effective scoring," Turner said. "Last year it was a lot of 3s and coming off screens and stuff like that. This year I just wanted to do a better job of making my defender off balance ... pump fake, one dribble, two dribble pullups, get to the free-throw line. Really it's just reading what the defense is doing. I've been working on it, and it's been pretty effective."
In A&M's four-overtime loss to Tennessee, Turner made 15 two-point field goals for 30 of his 38 points.
"His all-around game is the best in the league from a perimeter standpoint," A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "Last year he was just a jump shooter. This year he's getting to the free-throw line a lot more. His assist total is up. He's gotten better."
Going into the final three games of the season and the conference tournament, Turner has shot as many free throws as he did last season at 91 and is 10 assists shy of his total for last year, when he played point guard for about half the season.
Turner transferred from Washington after his sophomore season because he wanted to expand his game, not just shoot 3s. He led the Huskies in 3-pointers made his sophomore year with 41, good for 59 percent of his baskets.
"It's worked out perfectly," Turner said of his move to A&M. "I wouldn't have wanted it any other way, having an opportunity to do what I love to do and hopefully I'm doing it to the best of my abilities. I've worked hard to get where I'm at now."
Turner is shooting 48 percent inside the arc despite being a marked man and often having to take tough shots as the shot clock winds down. When the Aggies can't get what they want out of a play, Turner takes the ball and does his best to get off a good shot.
"I've just had to read defenses," he said. "Especially after the Kentucky game, I saw a lot of double teams and people face-guarding me, making sure I'm not catching the ball. It took me a while to learn what defense was being played, but the last couple of games I'm realizing it, and I'm picking my spots, picking and choosing when I can go and when I can't."
Turner even threw in a left-handed floater in the lane against Tennessee and had a dunk against Ole Miss, his only one of the season. His favorites shot is a step-back jumper, although his most memorable shot was a 3-pointer: the last he took in A&M's victory at Kentucky.
Lost in all the scoring is Turner's defense. He is usually assigned the opponent's best perimeter player.
"Elston is playing extremely well, as well as any body in the country," Kennedy said. "He's guarding some of the best guys on the other team. He's leading us in minutes played. We can't ask for anything more than what he's done. That's given us a chance."
NOTES --- Playing for Washington, Turner went 0-for-5 in the Huskies' home win over A&M in December 2009. ... If Turner is selected first-team All-SEC, it will mark the first time a father and son have both made the team. Turner's father was an All-SEC player for Ole Miss in 1981. ... Turner's last game was at Tad Smith Coliseum, where his father played. "It was fun, it was a lot different. A lot of times I was thinking, man, I'm playing on the same court my dad use to play on 30 some years ago." ... Even though the South Carolina Gamecocks have never played against A&M, their first-year head coach Frank Martin is familiar with the Aggies, having gone 2-1 at Reed Arena and 5-2 overall against A&M while head coach of Kansas State from 2007-12. ... South Carolina has had 11 different players start. Only one, senior Lakeem Jackson, has started every game.
South Carolina (13-15, 3-12)
Pos. Name Height Class PPG RPG
F L. Chatkevicius 6-11 fr. 4.1 *3.2
F Michael Carrera 6-5 fr. 10.2 7.1
F Lakeem Jackson 6-5 sr. 7.9 6.1
G Eric Smith 5-11 jr. 5.8 *3.1
G Bruce Ellington 5-9 jr. 9.7 *2.4
Texas A&M (16-12, 6-9)
Pos. Name Height Class PPG RPG
G Alex Caruso 6-5 fr. 5.0 *3.6
G Fabyon Harris 5-11 jr. 11.8 *1.3
G Elston Turner 6-5 sr. 17.6 3.1
F Kourtney Roberson 6-9 so. 6.9 6.9
F Ray Turner 6-9 sr. 9.2 6.2
*assists per game
Who: Texas A&M (16-11, 6-8); South Carolina (13-15, 3-12)
Ranking: Neither team is ranked
When/Where: 6 p.m. Saturday/Reed Arena
Line: Texas A&M by 9
TV/Radio: ESPNU/WTAW 1620 AM