No. 21 Texas A&M rallies for 92-88 victory over Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Whenever Texas A&M began to doubt its chances, its seniors took command.
Jalen Jones scored 27 points and made a tiebreaking basket with 1:28 left, helping No. 21 Texas A&M erase a 13-point, second-half deficit and beat Tennessee 92-88 on Saturday for its sixth straight victory.
''We were very fortunate,'' Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. ''I'm proud of our guys. I feel like we stole a win just by hanging tough and sticking together.''
The Aggies (13-2, 3-0 SEC) can point to experience for the victory.
Jones, a senior, was one point off his career high. Danuel House, another senior, added 23 points after missing Wednesday's victory over Mississippi State for what an athletic department official described at the time as a personal matter.
The senior contingent also includes Alex Caruso, who had 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals. A fourth senior - South Florida graduate transfer Anthony Collins - finished with nine assists and no turnovers.
''When doubt tried to step in, we didn't allow it to happen,'' House said. ''We just wanted to get one stop and get a good shot and possession for ourselves - then try to get another stop. We just went stop by stop.''
Texas A&M led 90-88 in the closing seconds when Tennessee's Kevin Punter Jr. attempted a driving layup that went off the rim. Tennessee kept possession and got the ball to Detrick Mostella, whose 3-point shot went around and out with about 10 seconds left. House sank two free throws with six seconds left to seal the victory.
Before Texas A&M's seniors came through, Tennessee freshmen Admiral Schofield and Shembari Phillips were emerging as the story of this game. The two newcomers combined for 21 first-half points
Schofield finished with 16 while Phillips had a career-high 15. Punter scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half to lead the Vols, who committed a season-high 18 turnovers.
Tennessee (8-7, 1-2 SEC) was ahead by 10 points with just over four minutes left when Texas A&M ran off 11 straight points. Texas A&M converted Caruso's steal into Tyler Davis' layup with 2:12 left, giving the Aggies their first lead since the opening minutes.
Schofield said the Aggies' experience may have made an impact down the stretch ''in a sense, just having that IQ, knowing the game, being comfortable in your skin, in playing the game.''
''But I feel like my mindset is it doesn't matter how old you are, how big you are, everybody's got to compete,'' Schofield said. ''In those last six minutes, we didn't compete to the best of our ability.''
Schofield made one of two free throws to make it 85-all with 1:41 remaining before Jones scored inside to put Texas A&M ahead for good.
Texas A&M: The Aggies have the NCAA Division I active career leaders in assists (Collins, 643) and steals (Caruso, 235).
Tennessee: Schofield is averaging 18.3 points in SEC play. He averages 4.8 points in nonconference games.
Tennessee didn't start anyone taller than 6-foot-5, yet the Vols outscored the taller Aggies 20-10 in the first half. The Aggies turned that around by outscoring Tennessee 28-8 in paint points after halftime.
''It came down to toughness in the first half,'' Schofield said. ''In the second half, we just let off the gas.''
Tennessee shot 49.2 percent from the field but missed eight of its last nine attempts. ... Texas A&M hadn't allowed anyone to exceed 74 points or shoot better than 47.2 percent before Saturday. ... Texas A&M has beaten Tennessee four straight times. Those four matchups were decided by a total of 14 points and included one overtime game.
Texas A&M: Hosts Florida on Tuesday.
Tennessee: At Georgia on Wednesday.