Texas A&M Aggies pound Herd, 92-68
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Marshall Thundering Herd men’s basketball head coach Dan D’Antoni is searching for his team.
Texas A&M (7-4) smashed Marshall 92-68 in a Saturday afternoon game in Reed Arena, dropping the Herd’s record to 7-5 with five losses in its last eight games.
The magic that carried Marshall last season to the Conference USA championship and NCAA Tournament second round is gone.
“It’s been really kind of up and down all year long,” D’Antoni said in a postgame radio interview. “We started out like the team I remember last year. Everybody was hungry. Everybody wanted to come out and win. Everybody was together. Somewhere along the line we’ve lost it.”
D’Antoni said what happened Saturday was unacceptable.
It doesn’t get easier, either. Marmasshall has a few days off for Christ before going back on the road to play its final non-conference game at No. 5 University of Virginia (11-0), a 1 p.m. Dec. 31 contest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Marshall connected on only 35.2 percent of its shots — 10 for 35 on 3-point attempts — against a Texas A&M defense that forced its previous three opponents to shot less than 35 percent.
Jon Elmore, the Herd’s 6-foot-3 senior point guard averaging 20.8 points, was limited to his season-low of six that he scored in a loss at the University of Maryland. Elmore was 3 for 12 from the floor, 0 for 4 on 3-point shots and missed his only free throw.
“We’re going to have to have Jon play better,” D’Antoni said while reading Elmore’s shooting statistics on the box score. “We’re not going to win if that’s the case.”
Instead of the normal highscoring duo of Elmore and C.J. Burks, it was Rondale Watson and Burks leading. Watson, a 6-4 senior guard, hit for 19, one less than his career high, grabbed six rebounds and dished three assists. Burks, also a 6-4 senior guard, scored 18 in a game when he reached some career milestones.
Burks padded his career points to 1,454 (18th in school history), moved to 10th in the record book for 3-point field goals with 170 after sinking three, climbed to 20th in assists at 261 with two and is tied for 19th in steals with 111 after making two.
Jannson Williams, a 6-9 sophomore forward, had five points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Darius George came off the bench to score nine which helped some, but Texas A&M rolled up a 44-14 advantage in bench scoring.
Texas A&M’s fifth win in a row was led by 6-8 grad forward Christian Mekowulu and 6-2 sophomore guard T.J. Starks with 17 points each, 6-9 junior Josh Nebo with 16, 6-5 sophomore Brandon Mahan’s 12 and 6-4 sophomore Jay Jay Chandler with 12.
Savion Flagg, a 6-7 sophomore, snagged 12 rebounds and helped the Aggies enjoy a plus-24 advantage on the backboards.
The Aggies fed the ball inside and had a 58-24 edge in points in the paint while hitting 53.0 percent of their total shots and going 5 for 11 on 3-point tries.
Marshall hurt itself with 8-for-15 free throw shooting while Texas A&M made 17 of 21.
Texas A&M blew Marshall out in the second half after leading by eight at the break.
A string of eight consecutive points put Texas A&M ahead, 51-35, less than five minutes into the second half. A seven-point run stretched the lead to 73-53 with 8:10 remaining.
One final blow, a 13-0 spree created the biggest lead for the Aggies at 88-60 with 2:29 to go.
“I’ve got to find a way to change (things), but more importantly they’ve (players) got to find a way,” D’Antoni said. “We’re back to square one. That eagerness to win and that hunger is not there.”
Marshall’s 6-9, 325-pound Iran Bennett was injured late in the first half and sat out the rest of the game with a walking boot on his right foot.
Deaundra Murphy made his Marshall debut late in the contest. Murphy, a 6-3 freshman guard who played at Huntington St. Joe in high school, transferred back home from Alderson Broaddus University and had to sit out the first semester.
MARSHALL (7-5) at No. 5 VIRGINIA (11-0)
When: 1 p.m. Dec. 31
Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM