Sophomore Wade Taylor IV matched a career high with 25 points and junior Julius Marble scored a personal-best 21 as host No. 25 Texas A&M won its sixth straight game, defeating No. 11 Tennessee 68-63 on Tuesday in College Station, Texas.
Marble also had nine rebounds and Taylor made 16 of the 28 free throws hit by the Aggies (21-7, 13-2 Southeastern Conference), who went to the line 34 times. Tennessee (20-8, 9-6), which lost for the fourth time in five games, finished 10 of 14 at the foul line.
The second-place Aggies, who are a half-game behind Alabama, improved to 14-1 at home.
The Volunteers pulled within 64-63 when Zakai Zeigler (14 points) made a layup with 25 seconds to play. Tennessee then forced a turnover, but Taylor immediately stole the ball back, then knocked down two free throws.
After Zeigler missed on a 3-point attempt that would have tied the score, Taylor sank two more foul shots to seal the win.
Tied 31-31 at halftime, the game stayed closed for the first four minutes of the second half. Tennessee took a 41-40 lead when Tobe Awaka (10 points) sank two free throws with 15:28 remaining. Texas A&M then scored the next 10 points.
Dexter Dennis made baskets on either side of a Marble dunk. A pair of free throws by Marble gave Texas A&M a 50-41 lead.
Santiago Vescovi’s 3-pointer with 11:25 to play ended the Aggies’ run and began a 15-7 surge for the Volunteers that got them within a point. After a Marble layup put Texas A&M ahead 59-56, Vescovi (14 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) made driving layup, but Taylor scored, then Marble made a free throw.
Tennessee, which has lost four straight road games, jumped out to a 9-0 lead. The Volunteers led nearly all of the first half, and they were up 27-20 with a little more than four minutes to go before the break.
Texas A&M, though, strung together an 11-2 spurt, highlighted by Tyrece Radford’s follow-up basket and Andre Gordon’s 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining that gave the hosts their first lead at 31-29. Awaka, however, scored just before the first-half buzzer.
The Volunteers shot 40 percent for the night, and the Aggies 39.1 percent.
–Field Level Media