By TERESA M. WALKER AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lamar Peters scored 15 points, and Mississippi State routed Texas A&M 80-54 Thursday night in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Bulldogs (23-9) now have won seven of their last nine with their second win over Texas A&M in six days. Mississippi State beat the Aggies by 92-81 in Starkville to wrap up the regular season, and their first game ever in this tournament was never that close as the Bulldogs never trailed.
Sixth-seeded Mississippi State now will play No. 8 Tennessee for a second straight year in the quarterfinals Friday night in another rematch from the Bulldogs’ final week of the regular season. Tennessee won that game 71-54 in Knoxville and also knocked Mississippi State out of the tournament last year.
No. 11 seed Texas A&M (14-18) finished up a painful season that only got worse when sophomore guard TJ Starks dislocated a shoulder Feb. 26 in a loss at LSU. Starks not only averaged 12.3 points a game, he also led the Aggies in assists. His injury left coach Billy Kennedy with seven scholarship players, and this loss likely was the last of his eight-year career after reports he will be fired once the season ends.
Tyson Carter scored 14 points for Mississippi State, and Quinndary Weatherspoon added 12.
Savion Flagg led Texas A&M with 21 points and 10 rebounds a night after scoring a career-high 29 points. Brandon Mahan had 10.
Peters opened the game with a 3 for Mississippi State, and Weatherspoon added a 3 as the Bulldogs built a double-digit lead within the first six minutes at 15-4 on a 3-point play by Abdul Ado. From there, the Bulldogs just kept padding the lead to as much as 17 late before Flagg scored on a fast-break layup to trim the halftime margin to 38-23.
It only got worse in the second half where the Bulldogs’ biggest issue was a warning to coach Ben Howland to get back inside the coach’s box. Robert Woodard II finished off a 3-point play to push Mississippi State’s lead to 50-30 with 14:21 to go, and the Bulldogs pushed the lead to as much as 30 on a 3-pointer by Peters with 4:06 left.
Texas A&M: Kennedy had a very young team this season with 10 players either sophomores or freshmen. Flagg led the Aggies in both scoring and rebounds this season as a sophomore. The Aggies now are 3-7 all-time in the SEC tournament.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs dominated the undermanned Aggies, especially inside. They outrebounded Texas A&M 38-24 and had a 36-18 scoring edge in the paint.
Texas A&M: Announcement on Kennedy’s future.
Mississippi State: Quarterfinal against No. 8 Tennessee on Friday night.
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