COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Tyrece Radford had 27 points and Wade Taylor IV added 25 as Texas A&M never trailed in an 85-69 win over No. 6 Tennessee on Saturday night.
The victory is the third straight and fifth in the last six games for Texas A&M (15-8, 6-4 Southeastern Conference). It’s A&M’s second win this season over a top-10 team after the Aggies outlasted then-No. 6 Kentucky in a 97-92 overtime victory Jan. 13.
“We always talk about throwing the first punch, and we were able to do that in both halves tonight,” Taylor said.
The Aggies were up by 20 or more for much of the second half after a big opening half. But Dalton Knecht, who had been on the bench for several minutes after collecting his fourth foul, came in and made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to cut the lead to 12 points with less than four minutes to go.
A layup by Taylor started a 6-2 run, capped by an alley-oop dunk by Solomon Washington, to push it to 81-65 with just over two minutes remaining to end the rally attempt.
“We got ourselves in a hole. … We just never seemed like we were in sync and playing the way we wanted to play,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said.
It’s the second poor offensive showing in four outings for Tennessee (17-6, 7-3), which managed just 59 points in a loss to No. 15 South Carolina on Jan. 30.
Knecht had 22 points to lead the Volunteers, his ninth straight game with at least 16 points. He made just 6 of 15 shots, but each of his made shots was a 3-pointer.
“They were willful drivers and they did a good job of finishing at the rim,” Barnes said. “We didn’t execute the way we needed to.”
Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams raved about the work of Andersson Garcia, who is from the Dominican Republic. Garcia, the SEC rebounding leader, had 17 rebounds Saturday after pulling down 16 in the last game.
“He’s the D.R. Dennis Rodman,” Williams said. “I’ve said it before. That’s what I wrote for him today and my pregame note.”
Texas A&M led by 14 at halftime and scored the first six points of the second half to stretch the advantage to 48-28. Taylor wowed the rowdy crowd of 12,995 in that span when he crashed to the ground after being fouled as he made a layup.
Tennessee: The Volunteers will need to solve the scoring woes that plagued them Saturday if they hope to compete with South Carolina and 16th-ranked Alabama for the SEC title.
Texas A&M: The Aggies have played their most consistent basketball of the season in the last six games, with their only loss in that span coming in a loss to Ole Miss on Jan. 27. But they’ll have to continue to improve if they hope to build on this success as three of their next five games are against ranked opponents.
Tennessee: Visits Arkansas Wednesday night.
Texas A&M: Visits Vanderbilt Tuesday night.
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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball