Mississippi beats Texas A&M 69-59
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Mississippi continued its string of impressive Southeastern Conference play thanks to something it's not usually known for - defense.
The Rebels won their fourth straight on Wednesday night, beating Texas A&M 69-59 at Tad Smith Coliseum in a disjointed game that featured plenty of missed shots, turnovers and empty possessions.
''It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing game at times, but these are the kinds of games you've got to win in early February,'' Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. ''You've got to grind through them.''
Stefan Moody scored 19 points and M.J. Rhett added 11 for Ole Miss. The Rebels (15-7, 6-3 SEC) led for the entire second half, stretching their advantage to 12 points before the Aggies briefly made a run.
Texas A&M (15-6, 6-3) had its six-game winning streak snapped. It was the Aggies' longest run of victories in conference play since they were part of the Big 12 in 2009.
Alex Caruso and Tavario Miller led the Aggies with 13 points. Kourtney Roberson added 12.
Texas A&M's Danuel House, who was named the SEC Player of the Week on Monday, managed just six points on 2-of-11 shooting from the field. The Aggies' top three scorers - House, Jalen Jones and Caruso - combined to make just 8 of 29 shots from the field.
''We just didn't play very well,'' Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.
The Rebels - who came into the night leading the SEC in conference play with 75 points per game - won despite their own mediocre shooting night. They made just 24 of 62 (38.7 percent) attempts from the field and only 6 of 24 (25 percent) from 3-point range.
The Aggies were hurt by 16 turnovers. Ole Miss had just eight.
It was an important game for both teams, which are working to gain quality wins as the NCAA tournament bubble slowly develops. Texas A&M came into the game at No. 31 in the country in RPI while Ole Miss was No. 48, according to the NCAA's rankings.
Ole Miss managed to take a 33-32 halftime lead despite missing its first 12 3-point attempts. Terence Smith made back-to-back 3s late in the first half to break the streak and push the Rebels ahead.
After surviving the early shooting problems, Ole Miss jumped ahead in the second half. Rhett had three early buckets and Moody's short jumper extended the Rebels' lead to 50-38 with 13:38 remaining.
''We just stayed the course,'' Rhett said. ''We took the same shots we did in the first half. They just weren't falling in the first half. But in the second half everything started rolling.''
Texas A&M was far from finished, cutting the Ole Miss advantage to 53-50 with eight minutes remaining. But the Aggies couldn't string together enough quality offensive possessions to take the lead.
Texas A&M: The Aggies haven't won seven conference games in a row in the same season since it was a member of the Big 12 in 2006. ... Texas A&M shot just 11 of 20 (55 percent) on free throws.
Ole Miss: The Rebels came into the game making 80.1 percent of their free throws, which is tops in the country. ... Ole Miss guard Jarvis Summers has 1,522 career points, needing just 31 more to jump into the university's all-time top 10.
Texas A&M travels to Missouri on Saturday.
Ole Miss travels to Auburn on Saturday.