Aggies get 6th straight win, 69-58, over Vanderbilt
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M won its sixth straight game on Saturday with a 69-58 victory over Vanderbilt to move into second place in the Southeastern Conference standings.
The Aggies are excited about their recent surge, but know they’ll have to keep it up to get to where they want to be.
”We’re thankful, but we’ve got a lot of games left,” coach Billy Kennedy said. ”There’s no need to celebrate where we’re at in the standings. We need to celebrate the win and get better tomorrow.”
Jalen Jones scored 15 points and Alex Caruso added 14 points with 10 assists in the win.
It’s the first time the Aggies have won six consecutive conference contests since 2009 when they were in the Big 12. They trail only top-ranked Kentucky in the SEC.
”We’re on a six-game winning streak and we’re improving throughout that, so I think that’s encouraging,” Caruso said.
Texas A&M (15-5, 6-2) led from start to finish and maintained a double-digit lead for most of the game. But an 11-3 run by the Commodores got them within 59-52 with about seven minutes left. That run was powered by three 3-pointers, capped by Luke Kornet’s 3 from the corner under heavy pressure.
A&M scored three quick points to end the run and push the lead back to 10 and hold on for the victory
Wade Baldwin’s 12 points led Vanderbilt (11-10, 1-7), which has dropped seven in a row.
”That was a disappointing performance for us really from start to finish,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. ”A&M dictated the entire game, how the game was played, the flow of it and the physicality.”
The Aggies got a big game from their reserves, with their bench outscoring Vanderbilt’s 25-14, led by 13 points from Danuel House. House normally starts, but was benched on Saturday for showing up late to something. Kennedy said he’ll be back in the starting lineup in the next game.
Vanderbilt trailed by 16 at halftime before opening the second half with an 8-1 run to get within 40-31. Caruso gave A&M its first field goal of the second half with a 3-pointer after that to start a 12-6 run that extended the lead to 52-37 with about 12 minutes left.
A highlight of the game came when House was fouled on a 3-pointer, but made it anyway and added the free throw to push A&M’s advantage to 56-41 with 10 minutes remaining.
Kourtney Roberson led the Aggies with 11 rebounds and Caruso had eight, to finish just two rebounds shy of a triple double. He also topped the team with four steals.
Kennedy raved about Caruso’s performance.
”He was outstanding,” Kennedy said. ”He is loving winning. He’s embracing every practice, every moment. He’s showing a lot of maturity and a lot of leadership for us.”
The Aggies jumped out to a 13-0 lead punctuated by a dunk by Jordan Green. The Commodores missed their first eight shots, including five layups, and had three turnovers to help A&M build the early lead.
Vanderbilt finally got on the board on a dunk by James Siakam with less than 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
Matthew Fisher-Davis followed that shot with a 3-pointer, but A&M then used a 9-2 run to extend the lead to 22-7 midway through the first half.
Texas A&M was up by 16 points later in the half when the Commodores used a 10-3 spurt to cut the lead to 31-22 with two minutes left in the half. Damian Jones led the way with five points, including two dunk, in that stretch.
The Aggies got going again after that, closing the half with an 8-1 run to lead 39-23 at halftime.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores haven’t won since opening SEC play with a win over Auburn on Jan. 6. … Riley LaChance, who is the top freshman scorer in the SEC, added 11 points for Vanderbilt.
Texas A&M: This is the second straight game where Texas A&M hasn’t trailed. … The Aggies are 10-1 at home this season with their only loss coming in a double-overtime defeat by Kentucky.
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings on what his team did at the beginning of the second half to cut the lead: ”I’m not sure we did anything. I’m not sure that they didn’t just get bored.”
Vanderbilt hosts Florida on Tuesday.
Texas A&M visits Mississippi on Wednesday.