Balanced Texas Southern wins on road, beats Texas A&M 88-73

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas Southern has one of the most experienced teams in the nation, so when Texas A&M cut a 13-point halftime deficit to four with plenty of time remaining there was no panic in the Tigers.

TSU’ Jeremy Combs responded to A&M’s rally with a drive to the basket for two and then a dunk before Jayln Patterson made a 3-pointer for a 7-0 run and pushed the Tigers (5-8) on their way to their third victory over a Power 5 conference team on the road, an 88-73 victory over the Aggies on Saturday at Reed Arena.

“We are able to fight adversity, got a lot of guys who have been doing it throughout their entire college career, so in a game when a little adversity hits we find a way to stick together and get through it,” said Combs, a grad student who finished with 15 points.

The Tigers, who already had victories over Baylor and then-No. 18 Oregon, got balanced scoring with five players in double figures to end the Aggies’ five-game win streak, four of which were at home.

Patterson, a grad student who played at LSU, had 20 points for the Tigers. TSU also got a big boost off the bench from TCU transfer Shawn Olden with 13 points. Devocio Butler added 17 points for the Tigers.

“We had a hard time guarding them,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy. “We had a hard time matching up with them man-to-man and they outplayed us. Their big kid (7-2 Trayvon Reed) made a 3 at the beginning of the game and it seemed as if everything they threw up, they were making shots.”

Texas A&M (6-5) was paced by Wendell Mitchell with 21 and Savion Flagg, who broke out of slump to score 17 point. He added a team-high nine rebounds and six assists.

“When we make nine 3s and only turn it over 13 times, usually we’ve won games like that, but they outscored us and that’s where we really struggled,” Kennedy said. “Their physicality (was impressive) and they have SEC-caliber players really at every position.”

Reed finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks and he altered a number of the Aggies’ shots inside.

Texas Southern shot 60 percent in the first half and were 6 of 14 from behind the arc to lead 46-33 at the break. Butler had 11 first-half points, five in an 18-7 run to finish the half.

“We’ve got some guys who are really good shooters, unfortunately we haven’t been shooting it great this year, but we did have shots go down tonight and we had a good balance of outside and inside attacks,” said Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones.

In the opening half, the Aggies were only 4 of 15 from behind the arc. Brandon Mahan, their leading 3-point shooter, was 0 for 4 from distance. TJ Starks had three of the 3s and 11 points off the bench in the opening 20 minutes. He finished with 14 and Christian Mekowulu added 11.

BIG PICTURE

Texas A&M: All the good work the Aggies had done during their five-game win streak was erased. Not only had the Aggies won five straight, they appeared to playing better with each win as the team adjusted without senior star Admon Gilder, who is out with a blood clot. One good thing for A&M is coach Billy Kennedy has obviously settled on the eight-player rotation he wants to take into the Southeastern Conference schedule.

Texas Southern: The Tigers beat their third power conference team and will head into the Southwestern Athletic Conference with plenty of confidence while going for their seventh straight conference title and first with first-year coach Johnny Jones. With five senior/grad students in the starting lineup, including 7-foot-2 Trayvon Reed, TSU will have the edge in talent, experience and height over the rest of its opponents.

STAT OF THE DAY

A&M had held its last four opponents to 35 percent shooting or less, but the Tigers managed to shoot 60 percent in the first half and 57 percent for the game. TSU was 12 of 26 (46 percent) from behind the arc. The Aggies’ previous two opponents – Valparaiso and Marshall – shot 13 of 58 (22 percent) combined on 3s.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Trayvon Reed, Texas Southern’s 7-2 senior transfer from Auburn, made his presence known immediately. He had two dunks, one an alley-oop in which he was fouled, and a 3-pointer in the first 2:40 of the game.

HE SAID IT

“(Beating a third Power 5 conference team) is excellent for us in terms of recruiting. It certainly helps when you can go out and tell kids you are going to play a very difficult and challenging schedule and then tell them some of the success we’ve had.” Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones.

UP NEXT

Texas A&M has a week to get ready for its SEC opener at home Saturday against Arkansas. It will be the last of a four-game homestand for the Aggies.

Texas Southern opens SWAC play at Alcorn State on Saturday after playing five Power 5 conference teams, San Diego State and former No. 1 Gonzaga in nonconference. Not unlike the rest of the season though, the Tigers are on the road and won’t be home until Jan. 19.