Texas A&M cruises to 80-55 win over Auburn
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) As it turns out, Texas A&M can turn to someone besides Danuel House when the Aggies' leading scorer has a rare off night. Or, in this case, an off first half.
Jalen Jones, like House a junior transfer, scored 19 points as A&M ran away from Auburn 80-55 on Saturday night in Reed Arena.
KT Harrell scored 18 points in leading the Tigers (12-17, 4-12 SEC), who were without second-leading scorer Antoine Mason (15.1 points per game). Mason was with his family following the death of his father, former NBA forward Anthony Mason, on Saturday morning. A&M honored Anthony Mason with a moment of silence prior to the game.
Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said A&M's equipment crew also readily stitched memorial ribbons on the Auburn jerseys prior to the game.
''It makes me proud that Texas A&M is part of the SEC family,'' an emotional Pearl said.
A&M (20-8, 11-5 SEC), which hadn't won more than eight SEC games in its three previous seasons under coach Billy Kennedy, continued on a likely quest to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011.
''Any time you get 20 wins in Division I basketball, it's a good year,'' Kennedy said. ''But we're not finished yet, and we have a lot of basketball ahead of us. We can get better; I still don't think we've played our best.''
The Aggies led 36-28 at halftime despite a poor first 20 minutes from House, who entered the contest coming off a career-high 28 points in the Aggies' Tuesday loss at Arkansas. The transfer from the University of Houston was 3 of 13 from the floor in the first half against the Tigers, including missing all seven of his 3-point attempts.
Fellow transfer Jones, late of SMU, picked up the slack, however, with 15 points in the first half, in making half of his eight field-goal attempts and 7-of-8 free throws in that span. House wound up with 15 points, in finally making a couple of 3-pointers in the second half.
''House started off slow but he found his rhythm a little bit in the second half,'' Jones said. ''We were all aggressive throughout the game, and found each other in the right spots.''
The Aggies continued their dominance of most of their SEC foes in points in the paint, this time outscoring the Tigers 34-24 down low. Auburn lost its fourth consecutive game, and 10th of its last 12 in its first year under Pearl.
The Aggies' 25-point win marked their largest in conference play since 2008, when they defeated Texas Tech by 44 in the Big 12 and under then-coach Mark Turgeon. . A&M senior forward Kourtney Roberson tallied his 10th career double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
''We're short-handed, but I don't think we competed as well as we should have. When you're short-handed, it presents opportunities for some guys to change their roles, and I don't know that we took advantage of those opportunities.'' - Bruce Pearl.
Each team finished with nine turnovers, but the Aggies took more advantage of their opponent's miscues. A&M led 10-2 in points off of turnovers. . A&M dominated Auburn 44-30 in rebounds, with Roberson the only player on either team to register double digits (11).
UP NEXT: Texas A&M plays at Florida on Tuesday.
Auburn plays at Missouri on Tuesday.