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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies cough up 10-point halftime lead in SEC Tournament loss to Auburn

A Danuel House-less Texas A&M was not enough for Auburn, who fended off a double-digit halftime deficit to win 66-59.
The opening-round SEC Tournament loss ends A&M’s conference title run in its tracks.
In the regular season, Auburn was swept by A&M, which included an 80-55 blowout in Reed Arena. House scored 15 in that contest, but this time he was on the bench sporting a walking boot on his injured foot.
Alex Robinson and Alex Caruso each led with 11 points. However, Caruso also led in turnovers with 10. Aggie head coach Billy Kennedy couldn’t explain the performance by the junior guard.
“He’s a much better player, and I don’t know if he put a lot of pressure on himself because of Danuel not being able to play,” Kennedy said. “I don’t really have an explanation, because Alex is one of our best players. He just had a bad game, obviously. But we wouldn’t have been in this position without him and we had to play him and he kept competing. It had to be a record for him, 10 turnovers.”
The beginning of both halves were identical for Auburn. With the help of senior guard K.T. Harrell, the Tigers gutted out a 10-4 advantage in the opening minutes. Harrell ended the first outing 3-for-5 from the field with 14 points, but did most of his work at the free throw line, registering a perfect 6-out-of-6. But, from 16:16 until the six-minute mark, Auburn made a mere one field goal.
In turn, the Aggies took advantage and went on a 15-2 run. Their first lead came at 13-12 with 10:39 left in the half after Jalen Jones made a jumper. Then, Jordan Green and Peyton Allen notched 3-pointers to extend it to 19-12.
A&M (20-11) spread the wealth in the opening 20 minutes, as eight Aggies were on the board. Fitzgerald saw the court often in House’s absence, and brought energy off the bench by starting 3-for-3, which made him the leading scorer with seven heading to the locker room.
The Tigers (14-19) saw a 33-23 halftime deficit vanish in a hurry, firing from all cylinders en route to a 16-1 run. Harrell led the effort, hitting consecutive 3-pointers in a 30-second span. By the end, Harrell registered 25 points, which was the most for Auburn.
Harrell’s duties weren’t necessary after their 16-1 opening spark, because House’s inability to play plagued the Aggies offensively. Until 1:41 remaining in the game, A&M had two field goals since the start of the second half. The Aggies dry spell allowed the Tigers to snuggly cruise through the remaining minutes without providing much offensively.
In the regular season finale against Alabama, A&M led 36-22 into the break. Similarly, it was the Aggies inability to shoot that counted them out. The Aggies also totaled 19 takeaways, allowing the Tigers to outscore them in points off turnovers 20-5.
“When we came out in the second half, we can’t do what we did against Alabama,” Roberson said. “We knew we had a lead, and for some reason, we got out and started turning the ball over. Then give credit to Auburn, they kept attacking and they kept making us turn the ball over.”
Auburn will face LSU following the conclusion of the noon contest tomorrow, and A&M will have to patiently wait for its seeding in the NCAA or NIT tournaments.
“Yeah, really the four upperclassmen just had problems dealing with the pressure,” Kennedy said. “Danuel House, I mean, he’s our go-to guy. He’s a big-moment guy. He’s handled that pressure for us for the most part all throughout the year. We really needed somebody else to step up.”

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