Texas A&M bests Oregon State 67-64 in the Dam City Classic
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A long layoff didn’t rattle the Aggies.
TJ Starks had 18 points and eight assists and Texas A&M won their third straight game with a 67-64 victory over Oregon State at the Dam City Classic on Saturday night.
Brandon Mahan, Wendell Mitchell and John Walker III each added 10 points for the Aggies (4-4), who hadn’t played for nearly two weeks because of a cancelled game.
Ethan Thompson had 20 points for the Beavers (6-3), who dropped their second straight game. Tres Tinkle added 17.
After a back-and-forth second half, Starks hit a 3-pointer that gave the Aggies a 63-57 lead with just over four minutes left. Savion Flagg added a layup to extend the lead.
Stephen Thompson Jr. made a layup to pull the Beavers within 65-62 with 34.6 seconds left. Mitchell missed the first of two free throws on the other end before Alfred Hollins did the same for Oregon State to make it 66-63.
Oregon State couldn’t score in a scramble under the basket in the waning moments and ultimately couldn’t catch up to the Aggies.
“It was a good win for us. I thought we came in and started the game with the right mentality, defensively,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “Offensively we struggled early and turned the ball over too much. And we’ve got to give Oregon State some credit, their zone gave us some problems.”
It was the fourth Dam City Classic showcase at Portland’s Moda Center, home of the NBA’s Trail Blazers.
“It just kind of came down to the little things that this young team is still trying to figure out,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said.
The Aggies were coming off an 80-59 victory over Northwestern State on Dec. 3. Texas A&M had a game against Boston College scheduled for Dec. 8 but the Eagles ultimately said they could not get to the game because of travel delays caused by poor weather in College Station.
“We are perplexed by this decision and disappointed for our student-athletes and fans,” Kennedy said in a statement at the time.
Texas A&M jumped in front 22-16 early after back-to-back 3-pointers from Mitchell. The Beavers responded with a 7-2 run to get within 24-23, capped by Tinkle’s layup.
Texas A&M led 33-30 at the half, led by Mahan with eight points.
Ethan Thompson, who had averaged 20.7 points for the Beavers over the previous three games, had 10 points at the break. Kylor Kelley had two blocks for Oregon State in the first half for his 10th straight game with multiple blocks, tying an Oregon State record.
Tinkle and Ethan Thompson hit consecutive 3-pointers to pull Oregon State ahead 36-35 early in the second half.
Mahan’s fast-break dunk give the Aggies a 43-40 lead, but Stephen Thompson hit a 3-pointer to tie it. The teams wrestled for the lead much of the rest of the way until Starks’ 3-pointer.
Starks had 14 of his points in the second half.
“When he’s making plays for other people he’s really effective,” Kennedy said about Starks’ night. “Then in the second half he scored a little bit more.”
The Beavers were without senior center Gligorije Rakocevic for the third straight game because of a stress fracture in his foot. There is no timetable for his return.
Oregon State has a quick turnaround with a game at home in Corvallis on Monday against Pepperdine.
“We hit the floor tomorrow for practice and right back in the saddle on Monday and I’m sure you’ll see some guys come out hopefully with their hair on fire a little bit to get the momentum back,” coach Tinkle said.
Texas A&M: The last time the Aggies played the Beavers was on Dec. 29, 1976 at the Far West Classic at the Memorial Coliseum, which is next door to the Moda Center. Oregon State won, 80-58. ... The Aggies are wearing a uniform patch in honor of President George H.W. Bush, who passed away on Nov. 30 and is buried at College Station.
Oregon State: The Oregon State women’s team, ranked No. 8, also played Texas A&M, but in Hawaii. So both Beavers’ teams played the Aggies at neutral sites. ... Kelley, who came in averaging 3.4 blocks a game to lead the Pac-12, finished with four rejections.
Texas A&M: The Aggies host Valpo on Wednesday.
Oregon State: The Beavers host Pepperdine on Monday. Oregon State’s next seven games are all in the state of Oregon, including a trip to play the rival Ducks.