GAME NOTES: The Texas A&M Aggies will attempt to stay perfect in SEC play on Wednesday night when they play host to the South Carolina Gamecocks at Reed Arena.
After winning four in a row to end non-conference action, South Carolina has endured a rough patch in its SEC schedule, losing at Florida on Jan. 8 (74-58) before falling at home versus LSU on Saturday (71-68). The Gamecocks have fallen to 7-8 overall and have yet to win a true road game in four tries.
Texas A&M, meanwhile, has won both of its SEC matchups, downing Arkansas at home (69-53) prior to knocking off Tennessee on the road (57-56), giving it three straight victories overall to improve to 11-4. The Aggies have been practically flawless at Reed Arena, winning 10-of-11 at College Station.
In the first-ever meeting last season, Texas A&M came away with a 74-56 win in College Station.
The Gamecocks battled back from 14 down with under six minutes to play in their latest bout to make their deficit just three in the final minute, but the clock ran out on their comeback attempt. They shot 41.7 percent from the field and helped themselves with a 24-of-34 showing at the free-throw line, but they were outrebounded, 42-32, and were hindered by 19 turnovers. Sindarius Thornwell shot 9-of-13 from the field on his way to a career-high 25 points, which helped him earn the SEC Freshman of the Week. Tyrone Johnson came off the bench to score 15, while Brenton Williams netted 11 in the setback.
On the season, South Carolina boasts a +1.5 scoring margin but still ranks just 12th in the SEC in both scoring offense (70.3 ppg) and scoring defense (68.8 ppg). Johnson (11.9 ppg) leads the team in scoring, with Thornwell (11.7 ppg) and Williams (11.1 ppg) right on his tail. No one else scores in double figures but five players put up between 5.7 and 6.7 ppg to help out.
The Aggies trailed by as many as 14 at Tennessee in their most recent game but climbed all the way back before Antwan Space eventually hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds left to left them to the thrilling victory. After shooting just 25 percent from the field in the first half, they improved to 53.8 percent in the second stanza during their comeback. Jamal Jones shined in the triumph with 23 points, doing so on 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Alex Caruso was also solid at guard with 12 points, eight assists and four steals.
Texas A&M's success this season has come thanks mostly to its stout defense, as it ranks first in the SEC in both scoring defense (59.8 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.379), and even though its scoring offense (68.7 ppg) is the league's worst, it has been more than enough considering its play on the other end of the floor. Jones (10.9 ppg) shoots just 37.8 percent overall but has made 32-of-85 from 3-point range. Kourtney Roberson (10.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is a mainstay in the frontcourt, shooting 60 percent from the field.
With Texas A&M's outstanding defense going up against a uninspiring South Carolina scoring attack, expect the Aggies to take care of business on their home floor.
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