COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M’s two touted transfers paid big dividends on Saturday in the Aggies’ 81-63 defeat of Youngstown State in Reed Arena.
Jalen Jones scored a season-high 27 points and fellow guard Danuel House scored a season-high 21. Jones is a transfer from SMU, House is a transfer from Houston, and both juniors are in their first year of action for the Aggies (7-2).
“We just found our spots tonight, and happened to knock down a lot of shots,” Jones said.
Forward Shawn Amiker led Youngstown State (7-5) with 16 points and guard DJ Cole followed with 15. The Aggies led 58-54 with 9:14 remaining when they reeled off the next seven points to put away the game.
“It started on the defensive end,” House said of the Aggies late surge.
Offensively in that span, Tonny Trocha-Morelos and Alex Robinson each notched a basket and Davonte Fitzgerald sank a 3-pointer to lift A&M to a double-digit lead with 6:06 remaining. Texas A&M shot 60.8 percent from the floor (31 of 51), its first time to shoot better than 60 percent in a game in more than three years.
“We beat a good team that kept hanging around,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “Fortunately on offense, we really moved the ball around, and shot the ball well in the second half.”
The Aggies were especially sharp from long range, making a season-best 11 of 20 3-pointers (55 percent). Jones made all four of his 3-point attempts, while House made 4 of 7. Jones entered the game having made 2 of 9 3-pointers (22.2 percent) on the season, while House had made 8 of 20 (40 percent) prior to Saturday.
“I just happened to get in a rhythm,” Jones said.
A&M rebounded from a 77-63 loss at former Big 12 foe Baylor on Tuesday.
“They shot the ball great, and I thought we didn’t guard anybody tonight,” Penguins coach Jerry Slocum said. “If they shoot the ball like that against Baylor, they win the game. We didn’t do a very good job guarding, that’s for sure.”
A&M managed only one offensive rebound against the Bears (the initial box score showed zero before a video review later added one), and Kennedy was asked after Saturday’s game how much the Aggies had worked on offensive rebounds in practices since.
“A lot,” he said, smiling slightly, and adding that they worked on defensive rebounds and guarding as well.
A&M responded with nine offensive rebounds against the Penguins, and overall outrebounded YSU 35-28 after collecting only 18 total against the Bears.
The Aggies had two players score at least 20 points in a game (Jones with 27 and House with 21) for the first time since December 2011 against Florida (David Loubeau and Elston Turner). . The Aggies are 199-72 all-time in Reed Arena, which opened in 1998. . A&M and YSU had never played prior to Saturday. A&M is now 7-3 against Horizon League members.
The Aggies were only 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) from the free-throw line, worse than their 3-point shooting percentage (11 of 20 for 55 percent). . A&M freshman guard Alex Robinson finished with a career-high 10 assists, one better than his nine against New Orleans on Nov. 28.
A&M junior guard Alex Caruso, considered the team’s top all-around player, notched a season-low 15 minutes, including 7 in the first half and 8 in the second.
“He’s tired and a little under the weather,” Kennedy said. “He goes so hard in practice, I thought he was a little fatigued today.”
Texas A&M plays Kansas State in Kansas City on Dec. 20.
Youngstown State plays host to Kennesaw State on Wednesday.