Vanderbilt tops Texas A&M 66-55
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings glanced at the final box on Saturday and seemed as amazed as anyone at the outcome.
”It’s surprising we would come out with a win, because eight points from our wing players is usually not enough,” Stallings said following the Commodores’ 66-55 toppling of Texas A&M before 6,520 fans in Reed Arena.
Rod Odom entered the game averaging a team-high 14.5 points per game, but managed only five. Dai-Jon Parker chipped in three points, less than half of his usual 6.8 per game. No worries, however, as forward James Siakam tallied 22 points and 10 rebounds in Vanderbilt’s first road triumph in Southeastern Conference action.
”A career day for him,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said of Siakam, who was averaging 7.1 points before notching his career-high.
The Aggies led 34-33 five minutes into the second half before the Commodores ripped off 13 consecutive points to build a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Kyle Fuller and Siakam accounted for 11 points in that decisive span.
”I don’t think we were locked in or whatever we’re supposed to be,” A&M guard Jordan Green said of the Aggies’ third straight loss following their solid start in SEC play. ”That won’t happen again, though.”
A&M (12-7, 3-3 SEC) cut Vanderbilt’s lead to four at 52-48 with 4:49 remaining, but the Commodores (10-8, 2-4) used a 14-7 run to close out the scoring, and hand the Aggies a third consecutive loss.
”It’s a long year, and our `big picture’ is tomorrow and Monday and the next day,” Kennedy said of the Aggies needing to regroup in a hurry. ”We played with a lot more confidence the first three games. We’ve got a young, inexperienced group, and we’ve got to get ourselves going again.”
Vanderbilt was down to seven scholarship players following injuries and the Jan. 10 dismissal of guard Eric McClellan, but snapped a two-game losing streak and improved its all-time record against the Aggies to 3-0.
Kourtney Roberson led the Aggies with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Fuller added 19 for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt put the clamps on A&M’s leading scorer, Jamal Jones, who finished 1 of 9 from the field with seven points. He entered the contest averaging 18 points in SEC play.
”I was really impressed watching him on tape – goodness gracious he’s a talented kid,” Stallings said of Jones. ”He missed some he usually makes, and I thought at times we did a very good job defensively on him.”
Vanderbilt forward Luke Kornet surprised Stallings as well. The 7-footer made 3 of 5 3-pointers, all in the first half, after entering the game having made one of his previous 21 attempts.
”Either I’m stupid for continuing to let him shoot, or he made my patience pay off today,” Stallings said with a slight grin.
Neither team was particularly good from the 3-point line, but Vanderbilt was better by making 7 of 22 (31.8 percent) compared to the Aggies’ 4 of 18 (22.2 percent). The Aggies outscored the Commodores 12-2 in fast-break points.
The Commodores continue their SEC road swing with a Wednesday night game at Georgia, while the struggling Aggies try and get their act together the same night at South Carolina. A&M is trying to make the postseason for the first time under its third-year coach.
”We’ve got to score – we just couldn’t score,” a troubled Kennedy said of A&M shooting 33.3 percent (19 of 57) from the field. ”That’s the biggest thing. It puts too much pressure on your defense when you have opportunities to score – and you don’t score.”
Vanderbilt made 20 of 48 (41.7 percent) from the field, including 11 of 23 while pulling away in the second half.