On Tuesday, Josh Nebo finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, as the Texas A&M men’s basketball team couldn’t hang on against the LSU Tigers, losing 89-85 in overtime at Reed Arena.
After starting the night down 23-7 with 11:10 in the first half, the Aggies (8-8, 2-2 SEC) turned their momentum around, taking a six-point lead with 1:51 left in the game. After two quick three-pointers, the Tigers (12-4, 4-0 SEC) forced overtime, where they maintained their lead and limited A&M’s offense to 2-of-9 from the floor in the period.
“I think LSU is the most talented team we've played, the most physical,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “We did not handle their physicality nor their fight in the first two out of timeouts very well at all. I thought our fight was way better in the second half but we could not close down the last two minutes very well. But for the 28 minutes in between, we outscored them by 20.”
Despite the loss, Williams said he is proud of the hard work and execution the team has shown in the last few games.
“I am incredibly grateful for their buy in,” Williams said. “I think our execution and our production numbers are dramatically better in January than they were in December. I think our numbers were better in December than they were in November. There's much more consistent flow to our work and the expectation of our work in the film room, in the weight room and on the boards.”
To start the game, the Aggies struggled to contain LSU offensively, as the Tigers surged an early 16-point lead over the Aggies. With the game beginning to get out of hand, the Aggies began hitting shots on offense. A 9-0 run by the Aggies to start the second half cut the Tigers lead to one. A&M went on to take a 79-73 lead.
Down six, LSU responded rapidly, with two three-pointers tying the game with one minute left on the clock. Both teams struggled offensively in the final minute, with LSU failing to get a shot up before time expired, sending the game into overtime tied at 79.
In overtime, LSU took back the lead early off of a three-pointer by guard Javonte Smart. While A&M would cut the lead to one off of a Quenton Jackson jumper, LSU kept the lead for the entire half, building a five-point lead off of free throws by LSU’s Mays with 14 seconds left in the game.
Josh Nebo lead all Aggies in scoring with a season-high 20 points while also adding nine rebounds. Andre Gordon set a new season-high with 17 points, while Savion Flagg added 16 points while shooting 4-of-7 from deep.
Off of the bench, Jay Jay Chandler and Jackson were both big contributors for the Aggies, with Chandler going 4-4 from the line en route to 10 points while Jackson added eight points off of 15 points.
Williams praised the work of his bench for being able to give the team maneuverability.
“At Vanderbilt. I thought it was the best we had played collectively,” Williams said. “Relative to their role on the team, I thought they were as productive as they've been in that role. I think the guys that ate the minutes that [Emanuel Miller] typically gets were as good as they have been in awhile, so that's encouraging, that we have a couple of different choices. I think all of those guys have a role that can help us.”
In the game, both LSU and A&M founds lots of success in their three-point shooting. For A&M, who went into the game ranked last in three-point percentage at 23.8 percent, the Aggies made a season-high 14 shots from deep, shooting at 40 percent from long range. LSU was also good from outside the arc, making a season best 14 three-pointers while shooting 36.8 percent from deep.
One area where the Tigers dominated in the game was on the glass. The Tigers dominated the rebounding advantage, grabbing 48 rebounds to A&M’s 32. With many of these rebounds coming on the defensive end, the Tigers were able to clog the paint, especially down the stretch, forcing the Aggies to shoot errant 3-pointers.
Nebo said LSU’s physicality makes them a tough team to face in the paint.
“They're a really physical team, they were a tough team,” Nebo said. “They send like three or four guys to the glass. Their [small forward] is 6-foot-10, so they have three guys that can crash the glass every time. That gives them a little bit of an advantage.”
The Aggies return to action this weekend, as they face off against South Carolina on Saturday at Reed Arena. Tip off is scheduled at noon, with the game being streamed on the SEC Network.