COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Texas A&M vows it’s ready for Southeastern Conference play, while Saint Francis (Pa.) is simply ready to put a tough stretch behind it in time for Northeast Conference action.
D.J. Hogg scored 15 points and fellow sophomore Tyler Davis added 14 as A&M defeated SFU 81-58 on Wednesday night.
The Aggies (8-3) led 46-19 at halftime and kept their overwhelmed opponent from Loretto, Pennsylvania, at bay the rest of the way in cruising to the 23-point victory. Five A&M players scored in double digits, with Admon Gilder, J.C. Hampton and Robert Williams adding 10 points each.
Keith Braxton and Josh Nebo scored 11 points each, the only Red Flash (3-8) players to reach double digits.
“We knew coming down here was going to be a daunting task,” SFU coach Rob Krimmel said. “Coach (Billy) Kennedy’s team is very big and very physical, and we were hoping they wouldn’t shoot the ball as well as they did.”
Kennedy has emphasized rebounding in practice over the past couple of weeks, especially after Texas A&M-Corpus Christi held a 39-31 advantage in a 17-point Aggies victory on Dec. 5, and on Wednesday A&M outrebounded the Red Flash 42-26.
The Aggies shot 50.9 percent from the field (29 of 57) compared to 38.2 percent (21 of 55) for the Red Flash, and A&M nearly doubled up SFU on points in the paint (34-18).
A&M rebounded from a 67-63 loss to Arizona last Saturday in Houston’s Toyota Center, home of the NBA’s Rockets.
“We know we didn’t play well against Arizona, especially for 25 to 30 minutes,” Kennedy said. “This group of guys wants to play well and they want to please. Sometimes they’re too nice. And they didn’t want to go home (for Christmas) with a bad taste in their mouths.”
The Aggies entered the game shooting 29.9 percent from the 3-point line (59 of 197) but sank 10 of 19 against the Red Flash (52.6 percent), including 5 of 7 by Hogg.
“If we’re playing good, I don’t think anybody can beat us,” Hogg said.
Saint Francis: The Red Flash can finally put a rugged road behind them in nonconference play following their sixth consecutive loss, including back-to-back, double-digit setbacks on the road against Marquette and A&M. Saint Francis at least can figure Northeast Conference action being much more digestible than the last month.
Texas A&M: The Aggies needed what amounted to a glorified scrimmage following their third loss of the season to a Pac-12 opponent, and prior to opening SEC play on Dec. 29 at home against Tennessee. A&M coach Billy Kennedy was able to play nine guys at least 15 minutes each.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Aggies only held a 12-6 advantage on points in the paint at halftime, despite leading 46-19 at the break. A&M’s big men came alive in the second half, and wound up with a 34-18 advantage down low.
HE SAID IT
“It was nice to be in the warm weather. We’ll take some back with us.”
Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel, on the temperature in the 60s on Wednesday night in College Station.
A&M freshman forward Robert Williams continued his dominating defensive showing early in his college career with four blocks, giving him 28 this season, more than twice as many as the next Aggie (Tyler Davis with 14).
Sophomore guard D.J. Hogg added three blocks, nearly a third of his total (10) entering the game. In all, the duo accounted for seven of the Aggies’ eight blocks.
The Red Flash, like the Aggies, will enjoy a little time off around the holiday before visiting Farleigh Dickinson on Dec. 29 in their Northeast Conference opener.
The Aggies will enjoy a short Christmas break before prepping for their league opener on Dec. 29 against Tennessee in Reed Arena.
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