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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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Mitchell’s 20-point second half lifts A&M over Mississippi State

Guard+Wendell+Mitchell+dunks+the+ball+after+a+turnover.
Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Guard Wendell Mitchell dunks the ball after a turnover.

Senior forward Josh Nebo and junior guard Wendell Mitchell each contributed 20 points to propel Texas A&M to an 87-75 win over Mississippi State.
This win improves A&M’s record to 14-12 on the season and 8-6 in conference play, while Mississippi State drops to 17-10 and 8-6 in conference play.
While the final score saw a double-digit margin, the game started off much closer.
Mississippi State was the first team to score in the game, but the Aggies built a 10-6 lead with 13:32 left in the first half. After Mississippi State guard Tyson Carter swished a three-pointer, the Aggies and Bulldogs traded free throws until A&M led by only one.
After another Bulldog basket gave Mississippi State the lead at 13-12, Mississippi State stole the ball three times from A&M and turned those turnovers into five points. However, that 18-12 lead didn’t last long as the Aggies scored a quick six points from a Quenton Jackson reverse layup, a Nebo post-up, and another Jackson layup, this one coming off of a steal. At 18 each, the Bulldogs and Aggies traded baskets to get to 22-22.
The Aggies then started a run of their own. A Jackson three-pointer gave them the lead at 25-22. Dunks from Emanuel Miller and Savion Flagg brought the Aggies’ lead up to seven and a three-pointer from Flagg eventually gave the Aggies a 32-26 lead. However, the Bulldogs scored on their next two possessions and the lead was reduced to four. The Aggies went into the half with a 36-30 lead as Flagg scored on a putback layup with 1.3 seconds left in the game.
At the half, the Aggies were shooting an extremely efficient 59 percent from the floor compared to Mississippi State’s 46 percent. Miller was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and led the team in scoring with ten points. Something that helped the Aggies shoot so efficiently was their passing resulted in nine assists in the first half.
“The nine assists were a product of the offense,” Mitchell said. “We pass it to the open shooter and expect them to make it.”
Both teams came out hot to start the second half but the momentum was with Mississippi State as they cut the A&M lead to two points. The Aggies committed two turnovers and the Bulldogs earned five points off those turnovers as the score now stood 41-39. The teams kept trading baskets, but the Aggies eventually separated with the help of a Jackson three-pointer and a Nebo three-point play opportunity, which he converted. After another set of free throws from Nebo, A&M was leading 53-46 with 12:17 left in the game. The Aggies went on another scoring run as an Andre Gordon three-pointer kickstarted a 12-5 run that spanned 4:19.
The Aggies held their biggest lead of the game with a 65-51 lead with 7:58 left in the ball game. Unfortunately, that lead started to slowly dissipate. After a timeout, Mississippi scored five consecutive points and continued their sharpshooting clinic with back-to-back three-point shots to reduce the Aggies lead to six. It didn’t take long for the Aggies to return with some sharpshooting of their own as Mitchell hit back-to-back threes; the second three was a part of a four-point play opportunity that Mitchell converted.
With the lead at 75-68, Nick Weatherspoon committed a technical foul resulting in two free throws for Mitchell. On the following inbound, Weatherspoon committed his fifth foul of the game and was fouled out. As the Bulldogs were in the bonus, Mitchell was sent to the line for two free throws; he converted both. In a last ditch effort to come back, Mississippi State kept taking fouls by full court pressing A&M, but that didn’t work as the Aggies kept converting their free throws. A&M won their fourth consecutive game 87-75.
The leading scorer for the Aggies was Nebo. He scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Nebo’s four fouls drawn helped get the Aggies to the bonus quickly in the second half.
Mitchell was the next leading scorer with 20 points with all points coming in the second half. Mitchell was extremely efficient as he made 6-of-9 field goal attempts and converted three of his five three point attempts on the game. However, he and Jackson were the biggest beneficiaries of the Aggies reaching the bonus early in the second half as the pair combined for a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line.
Jackson scored 18 points and recorded an efficient shooting night as he converted five of his eight field goal attempts and two of his three three-point attempts. However, not only was Jackson’s offensive production important to the team, but also was his defensive production as he recorded four steals on the game.
Forward Savion Flagg scored 15 points, but it was his 10 rebounds that led the team and gave him a double-double. A&M coach Buzz Williams called Flagg’s six defensive rebounds game changing.
“Sav’s performance was game changing,” Wiliams said. “Nebo had one defensive rebound; Sav had six defensive rebounds. He kept things together from it getting out of hand. We only rebounded 55 percent of their missed shots. I thought he was the difference.”
Miller, after starting a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor in the first half, didn’t record a point in the second half. However, he did total three assists for the game, one of them resulted in a key three-point shot from Gordon that extended an Aggie lead in the second half.
As a team, the Aggies converted 31 of their 52 field goal attempts (59 percent) and nine of 17 three point attempts (53 percent) for the game. The Aggies also converted an important 89 percent from the free throw line.
“I thought we had good shot selection,” Williams said. “Tonight we saw more shots go in.”
The team will look to carry its momentum into Tuesday’s game against Kentucky. Tipoff will start at 6 p.m. at Reed Arena, and the game will be available for streaming on ESPN.

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