Flagg, Texas A&M beat Savannah State 98-83
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M forward Savion Flagg dubbed the Aggies' 98-83 defeat of Savannah State on Wednesday a sneak preview to the season.
"We got a little loose with the ball at the end of the game, but this was kind of a glimpse," Flagg said of the Aggies' intentions of racing up and down the court this season.
Flagg scored 24 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and six A&M players scored at least nine points, as the Aggies built an early double-digit lead and clutched it the rest of the way.
Both teams were sloppy throughout, with A&M finishing with 24 turnovers and SSU with 20. A&M guard T.J. Starks, who added 16 points, finished with nine turnovers, more than twice as many as any of his teammates.
"T.J. can't have nine turnovers, and that's the first thing he told me walking down the hallway afterward," A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "And you can't have 24 turnovers in any game, much less against an opponent you're more physically gifted than."
A&M overwhelmed SSU in points in the paint (58-18), rebounds (68-43) second-chance points (31-7) and blocks (8-1). Freshman guard Collins Joseph led the way for the Tigers (0-1) with 20 points.
The Aggies (1-0) played without starting guards Admon Gilder (hamstring, knee) and Wendell Mitchell (tendinitis). Kennedy said after the game that Gilder and Mitchell are both day-to-day with the injuries and might be ready to go on Friday against California-Irvine.
Kennedy has pledged the Aggies will get up and down the floor this season more than they have in years past, with big men Robert Williams and Tyler Davis having turned pro, and the young squad did exactly that in blasting to a 53-37 halftime lead.
"Hopefully we got some of the jitters out," SSU coach Horace Broadnax said of opening the season on the road in an SEC environment. "And we can start doing some of the things that we need to do."
A&M: If the Aggies intend to get out and run like Kennedy has pledged, depth will be vital, and with Gilder and Mitchell out for the opener players like Chris Collins and Brandon Mahan earned valuable minutes and experience.
SSU: The Tigers led the nation last year in 3-pointers with 12.2 per game en route to a 15-17 finish, and they continued launching the ball without conscious in their opener. It will be a long season if they're not more successful than they were on Wednesday (17 of 54).
According to kenpom.com, a team has attempted at least 50 3-pointers in a game on 27 occasions since 2000 in Division I vs. Division I contests, with SSU and VMI accounting for 21 of those.
The Aggies were leading comfortably when Jay Jay Chandler brought the crowd out of its seat one last time with a steal and a high-flying dunk to shove A&M ahead by 20 (93-73) with 2:27 remaining.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Forwards Savion Flagg and Christian Mekowulu combined for 30 rebounds, a good sign for the Aggies considering all of the size they lost from last season. Of course, free-shooting Savannah State doesn't compare to SEC competition, but the Aggies consider it a solid start inside.
A&M plays host to California-Irvine on Friday night, in angling to stay unbeaten on the young season.
SSU continues its oh-so early SEC swing with a Friday night game at Georgia.
Updated November 8, 2018