Mitchell scores 18 as Texas A&M beats Northwestern St. 80-59
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M welcomed the emergence of a newcomer while saying goodbye to a veteran on Monday night.
Wendell Mitchell, a juco transfer, scored a season-high 18 points and the Aggies brushed aside Northwestern State 80-59. Meantime A&M announced sophomore forward Isiah Jasey, who lettered for the Aggies last season, has left the program.
A&M coach Billy Kennedy offered no further comment on Jasey’s sudden exit. Jasey averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in five games this season.
Christian Mekowulu added 14 points for the Aggies, including making 8-of-10 free throws.
“It was good to play everybody and see the progress Wendell has made in practice,” Kennedy said. “The big thing is we (all) need to get a lot better, and the best way to get better is in practice.”
The Aggies dominated the Demons in blocks (12-2), steals (10-2), second-chance points (15-6), points off turnovers (18-10) and bench points (30-11). Ishmael Lane led NSU with 16 points.
Mitchell, a junior who missed the first three games of the season with a knee injury, began his career at Baylor prior to transferring to Trinity Valley Community College.
“I feel like I’m getting my confidence back,” said Mitchell, who scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half. “I’m trying to get back to what I do, which is score and create for others.”
The Aggies (3-4) sprang to a 38-24 halftime lead courtesy of T.J. Starks, Brandon Mahan and Mekowulu each scoring eight points in a balanced offensive attack. Texas A&M forced 15 NSU turnovers and blocked six Demons shots in the first half. Northwestern State committed only three turnovers after halftime but trailed by double figures throughout the second half.
NSU (2-7) has lost three consecutive games by an average of 26 points. The Demons lost 77-47 at UTEP on Saturday night in a quick turnaround against an SEC squad in the Aggies.
“We were a lot better (Monday) than we were Saturday,” NSU coach Mike McConathy said. “We learned that we’ve got to push the ball and take something, but not rush it if it’s not there. Only committing three turnovers in the second half was monumental for us.”
A&M: The Aggies continue playing without senior leader Admon Gilder, out indefinitely with undisclosed “health issues,” according to A&M. Kennedy has denied any reports claiming Gilder is out for the season, instead saying that is to be determined.
Gilder has not played this season after missing practices leading up to the game with what A&M described as knee and hamstring issues, and the Aggies continue to adjust without him.
NSU: The program pulls no punches in its pregame notes, describing the Demons’ performance of late as a “slump,” ”anemic” and sounding “alarm bells,” among other colorful depictions. If it’s a motivational ploy it didn’t work, considering the anemic Demons trailed by 14 at halftime and never made the outcome intriguing in the second half.
With 14 minutes remaining in the lopsided game, A&M forward Savion Flagg prompted a roar from an otherwise subdued crowd with a high-flying block of an attempted layup by C.J. Jones.
(UNUSUAL) STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Demons made all 10 of their free throws, including five players making two shots each.
HE SAID IT
“When you’ve got a young team, it’s really tough because you keep getting beat down and beat down. It affects your confidence.” – NSU coach Mike McConathy
A&M plays host to Boston College on Saturday in trying to win three straight for the first time this season.
NSU has a short break before playing at No. 13 Texas Tech on Dec. 12.