FIRST LOSS, 73-67
** available after 11:30 PM CT per SEC rules
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M (6-1) suffered its first loss of the season Friday night, falling to undefeated Missouri State 73-67 during the semifinals of the Corpus Christi Challenge at the American Bank Center. The Aggies will take on SMU Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. to conclude their participation in the tournament.
“We have to stick together because the level of competition is picking up,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “We need to be more patient and more productive at the same time. SMU is a very good team that is talented that can really score the basketball, especially on the inside. Our young guys will need to come ready to play tomorrow.”
Junior forward Kourtney Roberson led the Aggies for the fourth time this season with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Joining Roberson in double-figures were junior guard Jordan Green and sophomore forward Antwan Space with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Space led the Maroon and White on the glass for just the second time this year with seven boards, while Roberson pulled down six rebounds of his own. Sophomore guard Alex Caruso continues to fill up the stat sheet with eight points, four rebounds, three steals, three assists and a block against the Bears.
“I thought we played really well defensively in the first half limiting them to 24 points, but then our discipline on offense was really poor late in the first half and into the second,” Kennedy added. “Missouri State was much more disciplined in the second half and their zone really hurt us. We did not move the ball like we needed to and Missouri State did what they needed to win the game.”
A&M took an early lead in the game, with Roberson taking advantage of his size by scoring a couple baskets inside and going to the free throw line to score six early points.
At the second media timeout the Aggies were outshooting the Bears 38.5 percent to 27.3 percent, taking a four-point lead with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half. Roberson and freshman Tavario Miller combined to go 4-for-4 from the field early on the contest helping A&M dominate in the paint.
Freshman Dylan Johns had a nice string of play, recording a block on the defensive end and slamming home a miss to give the Aggies a then game-high six-point lead with just over six minutes to play in the first half.
The Aggies took a 29-24 advantage into the locker room thanks to a stifling first-half defensive performance holding the Bears to just 7-for-30 (23%) from the floor over the first 20 minutes of play. Meanwhile, A&M was able to shoot 12-for-29 (41%) from the floor and outrebound the Bears 24-19 during the first period.
Missouri State responded out of the locker room with a 7-0 run early in the second half, tying the game at 31 points apiece.
The two teams traded baskets over the next several minutes, leaving the game deadlocked 42-42 with 11 minutes to play before Missouri State took the lead with seven straight points.
The Bears caught fire in the second half shooting nearly 50% over the first 14 minutes to take a five-point lead with 6:12 to play. Missouri State made 4-of-9 three-pointers over the nine-minute stretch.
Late in the game the two teams combined for five consecutive three-point possessions, with just one of them coming from a 3-point shot.
A&M was unable to close the gap over the final two minutes despite scoring on three consecutive offensive possessions. Missouri State capitalized on late trips to the charity stripe by scoring its final six points from the line. Green finished the scoring with a layup with under two seconds to play, making the final score 73-67 in the Bears’ favor.
The Aggies were able to dominate in the paint, outscoring the Bears 46-22 inside and 6-0 on the fast break.
Missouri State advanced to face Virginia in the championship of the Corpus Christi Challenge at 8 p.m. Saturday night.
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
● Texas A&M’s season-opening six-game winning streak came to an end with the 73-67 loss on Friday night to Missouri State at the American Bank Center … The Aggies are now 6-1 on the season.
● Missouri State now leads the all-time series by a margin of 2-0.
● Texas A&M struggled from 3-point distance in the contest, making only 2-of-16 attempts from long range … A&M was 0-for-7 from 3-point range in the first half.
● The Aggies owned a solid advantage in the paint, where they outscored the Bears 46-22 … MSU, however, made eight 3-point baskets in the contest, including five in the second half.
● Texas A&M used the starting line-up combination of Alex Caruso, Jordan Green, Kourtney Roberson, Antwan Space and Shawn Smith for the seventh time this season.
● The Aggies held a 29-24 advantage at halftime, after shooting 41.4 percent and holding the Bears to 23.3 percent from the field in the opening period.
● During the second half, both teams shot an identical 15-of-27 from the field (55.6 percent).
● Junior Kourtney Roberson made 6-of-9 shots in the contest to lead the Aggies with 16 points, Roberson paced the Aggies in scoring for the fourth time this season.
● Sophomore Antwan Space led the Aggies with seven boards while chipping in 10 points offensively.
● Junior Jordan Green played well for A&M down the stretch, scoring all 13 of his points after halftime … Friday’s game was his second straight contest in double-digit scoring and third overall on the year.
● Missouri State’s Austin Ruder led all scorers with 19 points, making five 3-point baskets, four of which came in the second period.
● A&M head coach Billy Kennedy is now 38-34 in his third season at Texas A&M and 249-213 in 16 years as a head coach.
● The Aggies return to the court at the American Bank Center on Saturday 5:30 p.m. where they will face SMU … the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
● Missouri State will face Virginia in the championship game of the Corpus Christi Challenge at 8 p.m.