By STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Bowden scored 15 points Saturday as No. 24 Tennessee defeated Texas A&M 75-62 to hand the Aggies their fifth consecutive loss.
Kyle Alexander had 14 points, Admiral Schofield scored 12 and Jordan Bone added 10 as Tennessee (12-4, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won its third straight in Volunteers coach Rick Barnes’ 1,000th career game. Barnes improved his head coaching record to 647-353.
After being ranked fifth in the nation at the start of SEC play, Texas A&M (11-6, 0-5) hasn’t won since.
The Aggies have been playing at far less than full strength during SEC play.
Duane Wilson came off the bench and had six points and six assists Saturday after missing three games with a knee injury. Admon Gilder returned to action Tuesday at Kentucky after missing five games with a knee injury. This marked DJ Hogg’s third game with the Aggies since serving a three-game suspension. Robert Williams had missed a loss at LSU last weekend due to illness.
Gilder scored 16 points, Hogg had 13 and Tonny Trocha-Morelos had 10 for Texas A&M, which committed 17 turnovers.
The Aggies’ last two losses before this game were decided by one point each – a 69-68 setback to LSU decided on an off-balance 3-pointer in the final second and a 74-73 decision at No. 21 Kentucky.
This one wasn’t so close.
Texas A&M entered the night ranked 13th out of 14 SEC teams in turnover margin, and the Aggies’ inability to take care of the basketball enabled Tennessee to grab a 36-28 halftime lead.
Tennessee forced 13 turnovers and outscored the Aggies 15-5 in points off turnovers during the first half. Texas A&M stayed within single digits because it shot 5 of 8 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes.
Texas A&M cut the margin to six early in the second half, but Tennessee gradually extended the lead and made it 53-40 on Bowden’s 3-pointer with 11:16 left. Texas A&M got within 57-51, but Tennessee answered by scoring eight straight points and capped the run on Alexander’s dunk that made it 65-51 with 6:27 left.
The Aggies answered by producing their own 8-0 spurt to cut the lead to 65-59 with 3:41 remaining, but that’s as close as they would get.
Texas A&M: The 3-point shooting that kept Texas A&M relatively close in the first half deserted the Aggies as they attempted to rally. After shooting 5 of 8 from beyond the arc in the first half, Texas A&M was just 3 of 12 in the second half.
Tennessee: The Vols showed they could win even when Grant Williams and Schofield aren’t scoring in bunches. Williams and Schofield combined for 57 points in a victory over Vanderbilt on Tuesday and teamed up for 38 points last weekend in a triumph over Kentucky. They combined for just 21 points against Texas A&M’s size, but Tennessee won anyway.
Texas A&M hosts Mississippi on Tuesday.
Tennessee is at Missouri on Wednesday.
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