COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)—Winthrop has built a reputation for playing hard, but coach Gregg Marshall said his Eagles ran up against a Texas A&M team that outhustled them.
Acie Law had 22 points and eight assists to lead the 11th-ranked Aggies to a 71-51 victory over Winthrop on Tuesday night.
“I knew it would be a tough game for us because of how hard they play, and they certainly were that tonight,” Marshall said. “We have been called ‘junkyard dogs’ before. By and large, we play harder than most people we play, but not them. There was only one ‘junkyard dog’ tonight and that was Texas A&M.”
The Aggies (12-2) found the open man throughout the night with 24 assists on 25 field goals.
Antanas Kavaliauskas added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Aggies, while Josh Carter added 15 points, all on 3-pointers.
“We’re heading into conference on a positive note,” Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie said. “We have a long way to go, but again, it was a real quality win against a well-coached team.”
Michael Jenkins led the Eagles (10-4) with 13 points and Taj McCullough had 12.
Winthrop shot 44 percent from the field against the Aggies, who had been allowing only 33 percent this season. Texas A&M is one of only two teams, along with Michigan State, that has not allowed an opponent to score more than 65 points this season.
“They are very close to the best team we have played,” Marshall said.
Winthrop hit two 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the game, but the Aggies went on a 17-2 run over the next 6 1/2 minutes to take a 21-8 lead.
Winthrop took advantage of the Aggies overplaying the passing lanes with consecutive backdoor baskets as part of a 14-6 run.
But Law went on a run of his own over the final 1:20 of the first half, hitting a 3-pointer and making three free throws after being fouled with one second left on the shot clock to give Texas A&M a 33-22 halftime lead.
“I think the sky is the limit for this team,” Law said. “We are winning ballgames, but I feel like we have not played our best ball yet. I don’t think we have had all five guys play well in the same game.”
In the second half, Law created three of Kavaliauskas’ layups and set up 3-pointers by Carter and Donald Sloan with pinpoint passes.
“When Acie plays as well as he has played the last several games, it makes it a lot easier for everybody out there,” Gillispie said. “The problem we have is that we cannot get everyone playing their best on the same night. When we do, we will be something really special.”
Marshall said his team didn’t match up well with the Aggies.
“We played very little man-to-man because I didn’t think we could guard them,” Marshall said. “I didn’t think we were deep enough and tough enough to guard them, and we still got in foul trouble in the zone.”
Torrell Martin, the Eagles’ leading scorer this season, picked up two fouls in the first half and didn’t score until more than three minutes had elapsed in the second half. His jumper cut the Aggies’ lead to 39-30. He finished with nine points.
The Aggies ended the game with a 22-9 run over the last 11 minutes. They did not allow consecutive baskets by Winthrop during the run. Law scored their last seven points of the game.