COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas Southern’s bid for its second straight win over Texas A&M fell through in the final minute as the Tigers closed out non-conference play with a tough 58-55 loss Monday night.
The Tigers would start off slow as the Aggies jumped out to an 8-1 lead four minutes into the contest but the Tigers regrouped as they outscored the Aggies 9-2 over the next four minutes to trail 10-9 after Tyrik Armstrong’s trey. Texas A&M would up its lead to five at 16-11 but the lead was short-lived as the Tigers bounced back for a 17-16 lead following Armstrong’s layup at the 7:35 mark.
Texas A&M regained control of the contest and pushed its lead to seven at 25-18 as TSU would go scoreless for nearly four minutes but John Jones would end the drought with a much-needed trey to close within 25-21 with 3:25 remaining. Both teams remained close the rest of the way as TSU would trail 27-24 at the half.
Armstrong’s 11th point of the night would push TSU back on top 28-27 a minute-and-a-half into the second half. However, Texas A&M went on a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to lead 36-28 but TSU stood ground on both ends of the court and went on a 10-0 run to regain a 38-36 advantage with 11:44 remaining. The next few minutes was a back-and-forth affair from that point with three ties and three lead changes. Texas A&M’s Wendell Mitchell hit a trey for a 46-43 lead at the 8:08 mark and a dunk by Josh Nebo capped off a 5-0 run and a 48-43 Aggie lead.
It was neck-and-neck after the Aggies’ brief surge as TSU would close to within one point on two occasions as Chris Baldwin’s jumper drew TSU to within 50-49 with 4:40 remaining. Texas A&M held on for dear life as TSU once again continued to kick the door in as two free throws by Justin Hopkins moved TSU to within one (55-54) with 2:16 left.
Texas A&M missed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession and Hopkins made a huge play by throwing the ball off an Aggie player while diving into the opposing bench. The Tigers had a chance to move ahead right after but John Jones’ three-pointer rimmed out. A foul was called on TSU after the shot attempt but A&M missed both free throws. Baldwin had a look right underneath the basket but his shot was blocked before regrouping with a big steal to give TSU another chance at a score. TSU would miss its shot attempt and A&M would up its lead to 56-54 after hitting 1-of-2 free throws with 29.4 seconds remaining. The Tigers had another attempt to tie but the layup was missed and A&M hit both free throws for a two-possession margin they wouldn’t relinquish.
Three players scored in double figures as Yahuza Rasas and Jones both scored 15 points while Rasas completed the double-double with 10 rebounds. Armstrong added 11 with six assists while Baldwin grabbed 12 rebounds with eight points.
SWAC play begins Saturday night in the friendly confines of the H&PE Arena as TSU will host Southern at 7:30 p.m.