KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee turned away an overdue Texas A&M team Saturday night, defending its home court in the win.
The No. 24-ranked Vols (12-4, 3-2 SEC) topped the Aggies (11-6, 0-5) 75-62 in front of 19,612 at Thompson-Boling Arena. Saturday’s win follows Tennessee’s 92-84 road victory at Vanderbilt on Tuesday night and should boost the Vols in the rankings.
The Vols entered the game against Texas A&M with the No. 13 RPI and the No. 3 Strength of Schedule (per ESPN), while the Aggies had the No. 33 RPI.
Texas A&M was picked to finish third in the SEC and opened the season like a team on a mission, running up an 11-1 record in non-conference games and attaining the No. 5 rank in the nation.
The Aggies came to Tennessee after suffering back-to-back one-point defeats, losing 69-68 to LSU when the Tigers drained a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer, and then falling at Kentucky 74-73 last Tuesday.
The Vols’ victory Saturday was more decisive. Tennessee didn’t allow Texas A&M to draw any closer than six points in the second half as Jordan Bowden led the Volunteers with 15 points.
It’s Tennessee’s first three-game win streak in the SEC since last season, when the Vols turned that trick between Jan. 21-31 with victories over Mississippi State, Kentucky and Auburn.
It was Rick Barnes’ 1,000th-career game as a head coach.
Tennessee’s guards got it done against Texas A&M. Jordan Bone led the way with 4 assists while James Daniel lll had 3. The Vols had 16 assists on 25 baskets, and Tennessee scored 22 points off 17 Aggies’ turnovers, while Texas A&M scored only 12 points off 10 Tennessee turnovers.
The Vols won the battle of the boards, 38-29, and held even in points in the paint 32-32.
Texas A&M has one of the longer front lines in the SEC, and the Aggies made things rough on UT sophomore Grant Williams. Coming off a career-high 37 points in the win at Vanderbilt, Williams was held to 9 points on 3-of-13 shooting and added 5 rebounds.
Williams was averaging an SEC-best 22.3 points in league games through the first 4 contests.
Kyle Alexander, however, had a career-high 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
The Vols led 36-28 at the half, using runs of 7-0, 13-3 and finally 5-0 before intermission. Tennessee took advantage of 13 Texas A&M turnovers in the first half, outscoring the Aggies 15-5 in the points-off-turnovers category at Thompson-Boling Arena.