Mississippi State stuns Texas A&M 93-81
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Quinndary Weatherspoon got down to the basics of why Mississippi State overwhelmed Texas A&M on Tuesday night.
”We were just quicker than them, and we used that to our advantage on the defensive end,” Weatherspoon said.
The Bulldogs (20-8, 8-7 Southeastern) improved to 2-6 in SEC road games, while the Aggies (17-11, 6-9) fell to 5-3 at home against league competition.
”We did a really nice job of managing the game down the stretch,” MSU coach Ben Howland said. ”I’m just really proud of our players because this is a huge win for us to come on the road and get an RPI win of 21. This really helps us toward our goal of getting to the NCAA Tournament.”
MSU throttled A&M in points off turnovers (19-5) and bench points (23-6). The Aggies, ranked 21st last week in The Associated Press poll, dropped out of the rankings this week following consecutive road losses at Missouri and Arkansas.
”We’ve lost our defensive identity for whatever reason,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. ”We’re struggling to make the tough play on the defensive end of the floor, and that’s my responsibility.”
Bulldog forward Aric Holman was questionable for Tuesday’s game after hurting his knee on Saturday in a victory over Mississippi, but played 19 minutes and contributed 13 points and five rebounds. Weatherspoon added 17 points for MSU.
A&M center Tyler Davis led all scorers with 25 points. MSU made 23-of-29 of its free throws (79 percent) compared to 16-of-28 (57 percent) for the Aggies.
The Bulldogs won for the first time in four tries in Reed Arena and notched their 18th 20-win season in program history.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are likely still on the outside looking in concerning the NCAA Tournament, but not if this keeps up. MSU won its second straight and likely needs to close out the regular season with three more victories to make a strong case for the NCAA postseason.
Texas A&M: The Aggies, losers of three straight, are still considered likely for an NCAA Tournament berth, but this one hurt, considering they entered the game having won 12 of their 14 home games. Their next two are on the road.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
A&M entered the game as the SEC’s top rebounding team, but MSU held a 44-31 advantage on the boards, despite no Bulldog player registering double-digit rebounds.
Bulldog forward Aric Holman grabbed an offensive rebound, missed a dunk attempt, again grabbed the rebound, dribbled outside the arc and smoothly sank a 3-pointer to further deflate the half-empty arena midway through the second half.
HE SAID IT
A&M center Tyler Davis on the Aggies’ defensive woes: ”You have to have a certain togetherness to play defense, and when you don’t have that you can’t play defense at a high level. If you aren’t going to play together . then you’re not going to win games.”
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs play host to South Carolina on Saturday, their first of consecutive home games.
Texas A&M: The Aggies play at Vanderbilt on Saturday, their third road game in four contests.