No. 9 Texas A&M looks to corral Buffalo
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — No. 9 Texas A&M knows how to win games, even when it has been forced to play shorthanded because of a rash of injuries that have hampered the Aggies’ continuity over the past several weeks.
Given its recent results, A&M will take a modicum of momentum and some swagger from facing adversity when it squares off against upset-minded Buffalo on Thursday at Reed Arena.
The Aggies (10-1) come into the game off a hard-fought 64-58 victory over Northern Kentucky in which four players, including two key starters, did not suit up.
Admon Gilder, Isiah Jasey, TJ Starks and Robert Williams all missed the victory because of various injuries, and Texas A&M came out on top despite shooting a season-low 37.1 percent from the field while connecting on just two of 20 attempts from 3-point range.
The Aggies outrebounded the Northern Kentucky 48-39 leading to an 18-4 Aggies edge in second-chance points.
Senior Duane Wilson, a transfer from Marquette, led the Aggies in scoring for the second time this season with 16 points night and junior Tyler Davis posted a double-double for the second time in as many games with a 14-point, 10-rebound performance.
“We have a deep team,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “The good thing is that we were able to play those guys earlier this season, so it’s not the first time that they have been in hard-fought, combat type games. All of them have played in just about every game we’ve played. I thought that was big in helping us win a tough game
Texas A&M freshman forward Savion Flagg added 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Aggies and said afterward that he would do whatever it takes to win and help his team.
“Coach said next man up with everybody out,” Flagg said. “Coach needed people to step up, and luckily my name was called, and they trusted me enough. I did what I had to do to help my team get a win.”
Buffalo (7-4) heads to the Texas prairielands off a hard-fought 81-74 loss at Syracuse on Tuesday, a defeat that snapped the Bulls’ three-game win streak.
“We played really hard (against Syracuse), but we had a tough time with that zone, especially in the first half, and unfortunately we were just never able to build much of a lead,” Buffalo coach Nate Oats said. “We matched up well against them, but we need to hit some shots. The great thing is we have a quick turnaround before we head to Texas A&M.”
Forward Nick Perkins paced the Bulls with 18 points, while guard CJ Massinburg had 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Wes Clark, a 6-foot guard, scored 15 points and handed out six assists as he played in his first game for Buffalo since being dismissed from Missouri last February for not meeting academic requirements. Clark played for Oats at Romulus High School in Detroit,
“Syracuse is a good team,” Clark said. “For us being in the game and competing with them, it was good for us. We were involved in the game and enjoyed the game, but it was a game we could have won. We could have crossed that little bridge or that little hump. We couldn’t get past them in time.”
The Bulls shot 92.3 percent from the free throw line, their best performance from the line since going a perfect 8-for-8 against Akron on March 12, 2016. Syracuse also shot well from the charity stripe, making 24 of their 29 attempts. The Orange went to the line 26 times in the second half, as opposed to just five trips for Buffalo.