Worthy of a highlight reel: A&M upsets No. 8 Auburn

After a poor start in Southeastern Conference play, Texas A&M has won three in a row to bolster its NCAA tournament hopes.

The Aggies knocked off the eighth-ranked Auburn Tigers 81-80 on the road Wednesday night.

Troubled with injuries, A&M (16-8, 5-6) lost the first five games on its SEC schedule.

But the Aggies won at home last week against Arkansas and South Carolina and now have won on the home floor of the first-place team in the conference.

With a little more than a month remaining before NCAA Selection Sunday, A&M appears to be in good shape.

The Aggies are 20th in the nation in the latest ratings percentage index and are projected as a No. 9 tournament seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.

A&M hosts Kentucky on 24th-ranked Kentucky on Saturday at Reed Arena.

Starks leads Texas A&M past Arkansas, 80-66

Freshman point guard T.J. Starks hit four 3-point baskets and scored 16 points Tuesday night as Texas A&M beat Arkansas 80-66 in Southeastern Conference basketball.

Playing at home in College Station, the Aggies broke open a close game and snapped a two-game losing streak by outscoring the Razorbacks 47-34 in the second half.

Starks, from Lancaster, hit 4 of 5 from long distance in making his second straight start.

Center Tyler Davis produced 15 points and 13 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive glass.

Daryl Macon scored 20 off the bench to lead the Hogs, who had won three in a row.


Texas A&M: 14-8, 3-6
Arkansas: 15-7, 4-5

Texas A&M ends skid by defeating Ole Miss, 71-69

When a three-point shot left the hand of Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree, it looked good.

It looked good on the way up, and on the way down, and then something strange happened.

Texas A&M finally caught a break.

Tyree’s jumper from 28 feet circled the rim and came out at the buzzer Tuesday night as A&M broke a five-game losing streak, holding on for a 71-69 victory at Reed Arena.

“It went in and out,” Texas A&M center Tyler Davis told the SEC Network. “Thanks to God, it (came) out.”

Davis and Robert Williams combined for 38 points and 21 rebounds as A&M (12-6, 1-5 in the SEC) won for the first time since beating Buffalo at home on Dec. 21.

Bruce Stevens contributed 20 points and nine rebounds for Ole Miss (10-8, 3-3).

Back before Christmas, in the wake of the victory over Buffalo, A&M had won 11 of its first 12 and had climbed to No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25.

Since then, misfortune shadowed the Aggies through losses to Alabama, Florida, LSU, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Losses to LSU and Kentucky were by one point each, so the victory over Ole Miss felt good.

The Aggies played extremely well in the first half, shooting 61 percent while surging into a 45-37 lead at intermission.

Not to be deterred, the Rebels rallied with their hustle in the first portion of the second half, coming back and over-taking the Aggies.

Ole Miss came from behind to assume four-point leads three times, the last time at 58-54 with 7:15 remaining on a Stevens jumper in the key.

From there, Williams and Davis took over.

Williams, in particular, was brilliant down the stretch with four dunks and a couple of blocked shots.

In the end, it was Davis with a hustle play for the game-winning point.

He spun inside, missed, rebounded the shot and followed it in with 23 seconds to play.

Ole Miss missed two three-pointers in the final nine seconds.

The first was by Terence Davis out of the corner, but the Rebels maintained possession when the rebound went out of bounds off the Aggies.

On the last play, Ole Miss guard Deandre Burnett faced up from the top of the three-point circle, but he was guarded too closely for a shot attempt.

Burnett elected to pitch it back to Tyree, who was open on a longer jumper that rimmed out to give A&M its first victory of the season in a game decided by three points or less.

“I was praying that it would bounce out,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said in comments posted to the athletic department website. “God blessed us with a good bounce, the right bounce. That’s how good this league is.

“Every game is going to come down to making free throws and tough plays at the end.”

The Aggies were 0-3 in those games up until Tuesday night.

A&M players expressed relief to get the first SEC victory of the season.

“It is a blessing honestly,” Williams said. “I have been praying on it a lot. I feel like we are getting our team back and starting to get it back to where it needs to be.

“We just have to slow it down on the turnovers.”

A&M welcomed back guard Duane Wilson, who hurt his knee in the SEC opener at Alabama.

It was the first time that the Aggies, hit by suspensions, injuries and illnesses, had been able to play with all the players they had hoped to use coming into conference play.

Even with everyone healthy for A&M, Ole Miss nearly pulled it out at the end.

“I did not necessarily want three, but I felt as if for us it was probably such a defensive factor,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “I thought our guys did a good job of executing and making the extra pass.

“We had a guy with a clean look and unfortunately for us it just didn’t go in.”