Texas A&M edges Alabama 56-53
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy vowed he saw this coming, a sordid affair between two grinders in the Southeastern Conference on Saturday night.
”And I’ll see it, as long as we come out with a win,” Kennedy said of his approval of an unattractive contest. ”It was ugly.”
Ugly, but effective for the Aggies. A&M defeated Alabama 56-53, as the Aggies’ Robert Williams scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
”I said whoever got to 50 first, was going to win,” Kennedy said.
The Aggies (15-13, 7-9 SEC) led 53-50 with 1:37 remaining when A&M’s Tonny Trocha-Morelos missed a long jumper from the left side. Williams snagged the offensive rebound and was fouled, but missed both free throws to allow Alabama (16-12, 9-7) to stay close.
On Alabama’s next possession, Braxton Key fired an errant pass while under defensive pressure, and Williams came up with the steal. Williams then made both free throws following a foul with 33 seconds to lift A&M to a 55-50 lead.
Alabama missed three 3-point attempts on its final possession, the last one blocked by Trocha-Morelos deep in the left corner, to give A&M the win.
”I just saw myself close to the guy shooting the 3-pointer, and I thought, `I’m just going to put my hands up, because coach (Kennedy) had said not to foul,”’ Trocha-Morelos said of snuffing out a final attempt by Key, who missed two of the three shots on the final possession. ”I’m glad I got the block.”
Both teams were off their mark from the field. A&M shot 31.1 percent from the field (14 of 45), while Alabama countered at 33.9 percent (20 of 59). But the Aggies more than doubled the Crimson Tide in points off turnovers, 19-8, and held a huge advantage at the free-throw line (26-of-37 compared to 7-of-9 for Alabama).
Williams, a freshman from Vivian, La., put on a show with a handful of high-rising plays, prompting the Reed Arena crowd to serenade him with a chant of, ”One more year!” Williams has developed into a likely NBA first-round selection should he declare for the draft following this season.
The teams played an especially ugly first half, in combining for 40 points on 14-of-52 shooting, and a 21-19 A&M lead at the break. The Aggies had nine points with less than five minutes remaining in the first half, before stirring from their slumber.
”They played a tough, hard-nosed game,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson Sr. said. ”They were ready to play after a slow start. And we’re still a work in progress on offense.”
Alabama: Despite their winning record in league play, the Crimson Tide have faltered down the stretch, with five losses in their last eight games. The Crimson Tide needed a stronger finish to hold out any hope of an NCAA Tournament bid.
Texas A&M: Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy described this game as the Aggies’ attempt to stay out of the bottom four of the SEC, and the Crimson Tide’s attempt to be in the top four. At least on this night the Aggies succeeded on that front, and the Crimson Tide failed.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
A&M and Alabama shooters were atrocious from short and long, and especially long. The Aggies prevailed despite making 2-of-12 3-pointers (16.7 percent), while the Crimson Tide finished 6-of-23 from the 3-point line (26.1 percent).
The Aggies trailed 13-5 midway through the first half but gained their first lead on a Robert Williams dunk with 58 seconds remaining before the break. A&M led the rest of the way.
HE SAID IT
”It was a tough start for us, but we did a pretty good job regrouping. The whole game was kind of foggy.”
A&M center Tyler Davis.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide play their final home game of the regular season on Wednesday against Mississippi.
Texas A&M: The Aggies play their final road game of the regular season at Missouri on Tuesday.