Texas A&M stages comeback, tops Missouri 62-50
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Following its third consecutive comeback from a halftime deficit, Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy vowed Wednesday his team needs to excel in both halves to seriously compete in the Southeastern Conference.
But he'll take A&M's solid play only after halftime for now if it means another victory, as it did in a 62-50 triumph over Missouri in Reed Arena.
''The beginning of the second half our guys played like we're capable of playing,'' Kennedy said. ''(But) you have to be a `both-half' team to win at this level.''
In overcoming a 31-24 halftime deficit, the Aggies were led by Jalen Jones and Danuel House with 16 points each, while Wes Clark paced the Tigers with a game-high 18. A&M had erased a one-point deficit to Mississippi State and an eight-point deficit to LSU in its previous games.
''We knew we couldn't let this one slip away from us,'' Jones said. ''Missouri gave us the first punch, but we knew we needed to hit back.''
The Aggies (12-5, 3-2 SEC) held a wide rebounding advantage over the Tigers (7-11, 1-4) at 37-24, and shot 15 of 20 (75 percent) from the free-throw line. A&M entered the contest making 64 percent of its free throws.
''We do a lot of rebounding drills in practice,'' Jones said of an emphasis of late for the Aggies. ''It's a man's game, and we know we have to be strong in the paint.''
Meanwhile first-year coach Kim Anderson's Tigers have dropped four consecutive SEC games after defeating LSU in overtime in their conference opener.
''The Aggies came out in the second half and their game plan was to throw the ball inside, and we just didn't have an answer for it,'' Anderson said. ''They also came out and guarded a lot better than they did in the first half. It was a tale of two halves.''
Jones and House, two 6-foot-7 transfers who lead A&M in scoring, each tallied only four points in the first half. But the duo came alive in the second half, combining for 24 points in helping A&M overcome a 31-24 deficit at the break.
''A&M came out in the second half aggressive and playing hard, and we got a little stagnant,'' Clark said.
The Tigers made 5 of 8 3-pointers in the first half and 3 of 9 in the second.
''We didn't do a great job contesting 3-pointers in the first half,'' said A&M guard Alex Caruso, who finished with 11 points. ''We did a better job in the second half keeping the ball outside the 3-point line, and not allowing penetration in the second half.''
Texas A&M: The Aggies have won three straight league games for only the second time in their three seasons in the SEC, following last year's 3-0 start (that resulted in an 8-10 finish).
Missouri: Anderson dubbed Clark's play one of the team's few bright spots. The 6-foot guard had practiced sparingly of late with an ankle injury, and entered the contest averaging 10.6 points per game.
Missouri finished with 14 turnovers and the Aggies had a dozen, but each team collected 19 points apiece in points off turnovers. Clark not only finished with a game-high in points (18), he also notched game-highs in assists (6) and steals (5).
Texas A&M: ''The character and toughness and maturity of our team is greater than it was last year, by leaps and bounds, fortunately.'' Billy Kennedy.
Texas A&M plays at Tennessee on Saturday.
Missouri plays host to Arkansas on Saturday.