COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Following its third consecutive comeback from a halftime deficit, Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy vowed Wednesday his team needs to excel in both halves to seriously compete in the Southeastern Conference.
But he’ll take A&M’s solid play only after halftime for now if it means another victory, as it did in a 62-50 triumph over Missouri in Reed Arena.
“The beginning of the second half our guys played like we’re capable of playing,” Kennedy said. “(But) you have to be a `both-half’ team to win at this level.”
In overcoming a 31-24 halftime deficit, the Aggies were led by Jalen Jones and Danuel House with 16 points each, while Wes Clark paced the Tigers with a game-high 18. A&M had erased a one-point deficit to Mississippi State and an eight-point deficit to LSU in its previous games.
“We knew we couldn’t let this one slip away from us,” Jones said. “Missouri gave us the first punch, but we knew we needed to hit back.”
The Aggies (12-5, 3-2 SEC) held a wide rebounding advantage over the Tigers (7-11, 1-4) at 37-24, and shot 15 of 20 (75 percent) from the free-throw line. A&M entered the contest making 64 percent of its free throws.
“We do a lot of rebounding drills in practice,” Jones said of an emphasis of late for the Aggies. “It’s a man’s game, and we know we have to be strong in the paint.”
Meanwhile first-year coach Kim Anderson’s Tigers have dropped four consecutive SEC games after defeating LSU in overtime in their conference opener.
“The Aggies came out in the second half and their game plan was to throw the ball inside, and we just didn’t have an answer for it,” Anderson said. “They also came out and guarded a lot better than they did in the first half. It was a tale of two halves.”
Jones and House, two 6-foot-7 transfers who lead A&M in scoring, each tallied only four points in the first half. But the duo came alive in the second half, combining for 24 points in helping A&M overcome a 31-24 deficit at the break.
“A&M came out in the second half aggressive and playing hard, and we got a little stagnant,” Clark said.
The Tigers made 5 of 8 3-pointers in the first half and 3 of 9 in the second.
“We didn’t do a great job contesting 3-pointers in the first half,” said A&M guard Alex Caruso, who finished with 11 points. “We did a better job in the second half keeping the ball outside the 3-point line, and not allowing penetration in the second half.”
Texas A&M: The Aggies have won three straight league games for only the second time in their three seasons in the SEC, following last year’s 3-0 start (that resulted in an 8-10 finish).
Missouri: Anderson dubbed Clark’s play one of the team’s few bright spots. The 6-foot guard had practiced sparingly of late with an ankle injury, and entered the contest averaging 10.6 points per game.
Missouri finished with 14 turnovers and the Aggies had a dozen, but each team collected 19 points apiece in points off turnovers. Clark not only finished with a game-high in points (18), he also notched game-highs in assists (6) and steals (5).
Texas A&M: “The character and toughness and maturity of our team is greater than it was last year, by leaps and bounds, fortunately.” Billy Kennedy.
Texas A&M plays at Tennessee on Saturday.
Missouri plays host to Arkansas on Saturday.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Wichita State’s three-guard tandem was too much for Missouri State to handle.
Ron Baker made five 3-pointers and finished with 15 points to lead the 14th-ranked Shockers to a 76-53 victory Wednesday night.
Tekele Cotton and Fred VanVleet also scored 15 apiece for the Shockers (17-2, 7-0 Missouri Valley Conference), who have won 25 consecutive conference games dating to last year. VanVleet added seven assists against the Bears.
“They’re really good,” Missouri State coach Paul Lusk said. “They have the ability to make a deep, deep run. When you have three guards in college basketball that are so versatile … you’re going to have a chance in every game.”
Darius Carter scored 14 for Wichita State, which shot 11 of 21 on 3-pointers and outrebounded Missouri State 40-24.
Baker was 5 of 7 from behind the arc. Cotton held the Bears’ best shooter, Austin Ruder, to six points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“Tekele is a strong, athletic kid and he’s in great shape,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. “He was trying to be in Ruder’s hip pocket all night long.”
Chris Kendrix and Dorrian Williams each had 10 points for Missouri State (8-11, 2-5), which has lost five straight.
Carter, who had a career-high 25 points in a win over Southern Illinois last week, scored the first eight points of the second half for Wichita State. Baker made consecutive 3s to fuel a 20-8 run as Wichita State built a 67-47 lead before Marshall subbed out his starters.
The teams traded the lead 10 times within the first 10 minutes until Wichita State used an 8-0 run to gain separation. The Shockers’ lead grew to 34-24 on a 3-pointer by Cotton, but Missouri State finished the half on a 9-2 surge and trailed 39-33 at halftime despite shooting 52 percent from the field (13 of 25).
Cotton scored nine of the Shockers’ final 11 points of the half.
Missouri State opened the game by making six of its first nine shots.
“I thought their team did a good job the whole first half,” Marshall said. “Paul had his guys playing hard … and harder than us, at times.”
Missouri State was held to 20 points in the second half and shot just 28 percent from the field (7 of 25), as the Shockers clamped down defensively.
“I thought their half-court defense was probably better than last year, and they had a pretty high bar to start with,” Ruder said. “They’re probably more aggressive on the defensive end this year.”
Wichita State has held 14 of its first 19 opponents to 60 points or fewer.
“We were just pushing them out on the court and making their first entry tough,” Baker said. “Anytime they start their offense farther away from the basket is good for us.”
Wichita State: The Shockers’ 44-9 road record since 2010-2011 is the best in the nation. Nine teams have 40 or more road wins in the past five years.
Missouri State: The Bears have lost nine consecutive games to Wichita State. Their last win over the Shockers was on Feb. 1, 2011, a victory that gave Missouri State the Missouri Valley regular-season title.
Coaches from both teams wore sneakers as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative. … Baker chipped a tooth within the first 5 minutes while diving for a rebound. He tossed the chipped piece off the court and stayed in the game.
Wichita State hosts Drake on Sunday.
Missouri State visits Bradley on Saturday.
by Harlin Hutchison
The new state basketball rankings are out for this week. The boys rankings have three area teams ranked in the top 10 in class 2. Gainesville is ranked third but will probably fall next week after a 20 point loss against Conway. The Hartville Eagles are number 5 in class 2 while the Winona Wildcats are number 10.
In the girl’s rankings for this week, again in class 2, undefeated Gainesville is number 5, followed by Plato at number 6.
In class 3, Licking represents the region at number 5.
In class 4, West Plains moves up one spot to number 4 and, barring a loss at the Carthage Tournament next Monday, will move up after a win over the second ranked team in class 5, Kickapoo. Bolivar is ranked ninth, and Hillcrest is ranked tenth in class 4.
Springfield Parkview 52
West Plains 41
St. James 42
Mtn. Grove 73
Willow Springs 52
(Thayer) – The Willow Springs Lady Bears lost to the Thayer Lady Bobcats in the Thayer Winter Classic on Tuesday. Marty Spence has the wrap:
Again the final score was 73-52.
(West Plains) – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team now ranks second in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 16 standings after defeating State Fair Community College, Sedalia, Missouri, 106-50 Tuesday night, Jan. 20, in Joe Paul Evans Arena at the West Plains Civic Center.
The Grizzlies, 16-7 overall, are 2-1 in region play – one game behind leader and nationally ranked Mineral Area College, Park Hills, Missouri, which is 3-0 in the region and 20-1 for the season. Third is Three Rivers College, Poplar Bluff, Missouri, with a 2-2 region record and 17-6 overall record. Moberly (Missouri) Area Community College, 16-6 overall, is fourth with a 1-2 record, and State Fair, 4-15 overall, sits at fifth with an 0-3 region record.
Mineral Area will be the next opponent for the Grizzlies. The 10th-ranked team in the nation will come to the civic center Tuesday, Jan. 27, for a 7 p.m. contest. “Mineral Area is coming in next week as a top 10 team. I would love for them to come in and play in front of a crowd like we had last Saturday against Three Rivers,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said.
As for last night’s game against State Fair, Walker said he was proud of how the team maintained its focus against nearly the entire game. “We could have been lackadaisical in the second half, but we stayed pretty well on point. They only got one transition basket in that half, and our goal was zero,” he said.
Statistics show the Grizzlies connected on 42 of 78 attempts from the field for 53.8 percent, 15 of 38 attempts from 3-point range for 39.5 percent and seven of eight free throws for 87.5 percent. They also recorded 43 rebounds (14 offensive), 33 assists and eight blocks. Leading scorers were sophomore guard Craig Eubanks and freshman guards Dazhonetae Bennett and Keeton Tennison each with 23 points, and freshman forward Terrel Martin-Garcia with 12 points.
“We shared the ball very well,” Walker said. “Almost 79 percent of our baskets came from an assist. In particular sophomore guard Jameel Moore shared the ball very well, dishing out 14 assists in the game. He now has the top two performances for assists in a game in program history.” Moore set the record Dec. 13 when he recorded 16 assists against Highland (Kansas) Community College at the civic center.
State Fair connected on 18 of 62 attempts from the field for 29 percent, six of 23 attempts from 3-point range for 26.1 percent and eight of 12 free throws for 66.7 percent. The Roadrunners also recorded 29 rebounds (11 offensive), 11 assists and 16 turnovers. Leading scorers were Ryan Surface with 12 points and Selvedin Planincic with 10.
The game was sponsored by The Shoe Factory Lofts, and Walker said he would like to thank the local private student housing company for “all that they do for our team. They have really helped us out a tremendous amount.”
Walker reminded fans to tune into the new “Above the Rim” streaming live video segment at 10 a.m. every Monday at www.ihigh.com/msuwestplains to learn the latest news on the Grizzlies as they continue their march through the 2014-15 season. Those who cannot tune in live can view the segment later in the archives of the website. Fans also may ask Walker questions through Twitter by using the hashtag #GrizzlyTalk, or they may e-mail questions to AboveTheRim@MissouriState.edu.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The University of Missouri-St. Louis now owns a golf course.
The university announced Tuesday that it has completed the $1.4 million purchase of Normandie Golf Course, which is near the university’s south campus. Nearby residents have worried that the course would be sold for development.
But the university says it will maintain the land as a public golf course for at least the next 10 years. The school signed a 10-year agreement with Walters Golf Management to operate and market the course.
The university used private funds financed through the Chancellor’s Council.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A training campus for Special Olympics Missouri will be located in Jefferson City.
Phil Cook, chairman of the group’s board of directors, said Tuesday the board chose Jefferson City over Columbia for its Training For Life Campus.
Cook says the deciding factor was that Special Olympics Missouri would own donated property in Jefferson City, while it would have had to lease land in Columbia.
The Columbia Daily Tribune reports the 44,000-square-foot campus will be built on 15.5 acres. It is expected to host 30 or more training camps each year.
Cook says construction won’t start until the $12.5 million cost is raised in a capital campaign. The organization has raised more than half that amount and hopes to have $8 million by the end of the year.
by Jim Suhr, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The deferred compensation agreement included in Darryl Strawberry’s 1985-90 contact with the New York Mets has been auctioned for $1.3 million by the Internal Revenue Service.
The buyer, only identified as a man, was among 31 bidders during the sale Tuesday in Fairview Heights, Illinois, according to Michael Devine of the IRS’s St. Louis office. The buyer chose to remain anonymous, Devine said Wednesday.
The minimum bid was $550,000. ESPN, which first reported the results, said the buyer will get a monthly check from the Mets for $8,891.82 over the next 18-plus years.
Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rogers in Pensacola, Florida, ordered the sale last September to satisfy tax liens for Strawberry’s federal tax debts for 1989, 1990, 2003 and 2004. That judge still must approve the sale.
A payment of 20 percent of the minimum bid was required by bidders. The buyer has 60 days to pay the remainder.
The federal government sued Strawberry in 2007, seeking to collect what then was nearly $500,000 in unpaid taxes from the eight-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion.
Strawberry was indicted in 1994 on federal tax evasion charges linked to income from autographs and memorabilia. He pleaded guilty the following year and was sentenced to six months home confinement and ordered to repay $350,000 in taxes. In 2008, he agreed to pay the IRS more than $430,000 in back taxes, penalties and interests for tax years 1989 and 1990.
Strawberry, who also dealt with drug addiction and cancer, served 11 months in prison in 2002-03 for violating probation on cocaine-possession charges.
The Grizzlies will face a rematch against Mineral Area College next Tuesday at home. Mineral Area College beat The Grizzlies 61-78 at Park Hills last time they met.
State Fair: 50