CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M men’s basketball team wrapped up play at the 2013 Corpus Christi Challenge on Saturday, falling to SMU 55-52 at the American Bank Center.
Freshman Davonte Fitzgerald led the Aggies with 12 points during the first start of his young career, going 4-for-7 from the floor with a 3-of-4 mark from 3-point range.
“Davonte has been solid for us all year and I’m really disappointed that I didn’t play him much last night,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “He’s a good player and a good kid, who’s really working hard and will continue to play a big role for us.”
The Aggies (6-2) started off hot from the field, making three of their first six shot attempts to go along with three early free throws which left them with a 9-2 lead just over four minutes into the game. In addition to their solid start offensively, the Maroon & White held SMU to just one make in their first nine shots.
SMU responded after the sluggish start by making their next three shots to trim the A&M lead to six.
Freshman guard Shawn Smith came off the bench for the first time this season and impacted the game as soon as he hit the floor with an impressive driving layup from the right baseline that gave A&M an eight-point lead going into the under-eight minute media timeout.
Over the final eight minutes of the half, SMU cut the A&M advantage in half to four points leaving Aggies ahead by the score of 30-26 at the intermission. Both teams shot over 40% from the floor in the first half.
The Mustangs (6-2) came out of the locker room making four of their first eight shots to go ahead for the first time in the contest at 33-30 with 15:57 to play. The two teams traded baskets over the next couple minutes with SMU taking a two-point lead at the 7:16 mark.
Over the final couple minutes of the game, the Mustangs outscored A&M 6-2 to give them the three-point win.
“We’ve got to step up and make tough plays,” Kennedy added. “We’ve got to grow up real fast and learn how to make those tough plays at the end of games that make the difference in winning and losing.”
Texas A&M returns to action Wednesday when it hosts another former Southwest Conference foe, the University of Houston, in a 7 p.m. contest inside Reed Arena.
SMU 55, Texas A&M 52
Nov. 30, 2013 ● American Bank Center (Corpus Christi, Texas)
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
● With the loss to SMU on Saturday, Texas A&M saw its season record drop to 6-2 … SMU, meanwhile, improved its ledger on the year to 6-2.
● SMU now leads the all-time series between the old Southwest Conference foes by a 91-87 margin.
● Texas A&M struggled shooting during the contest and was held to season lows in points (52), field goals (17) and shooting percentage (34.7).
● The teams were whistled for a combined for 37 personal fouls, including 25 during the second half.
● The Mustangs started 1-for-9 from the field but recovered to shoot 41.6 percent during the opening half … A&M, meanwhile, made 11-of-26 shots during the game’s first 20 minutes (42.3%).
● The Aggies held a 30-26 advantage at halftime.
● During his first career start, freshman forward Davonte Fitzgerald scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting which included a 3-of-4 mark from beyond the 3-point line.
● Junior forward Kourtney Roberson pulled down 10 rebounds in the contest, marking the third time this season he has finished with double-digit rebounds.
● Sophomore guard J-Mychal Reese joined Fitzgerald in double-digit scoring by contributing 11 points, seven of which came from the free throw line during the second half.
● A&M head coach Billy Kennedy is now 38-35 in his third season at Texas A&M and 249-214 in 16 years as a head coach.
● The Aggies return to action in Aggieland on Wednesday when they will host another former Southwest Conference rival, the Houston Cougars … The match-up with UH is slated for a 7p.m. tip that will be televised by FS South & SUN Sports.