Late Harris jumper seals win
No. 21 Missouri falls at Reed Arena despite second-half rally
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 01:02
Fabyon Harris — less than a minute removed from surrendering a crucial lead-changing turnover — knocked down the game-winning three-pointer to propel Texas A&M 70-68 over SEC rival No. 21 Missouri on Thursday evening at Reed Arena.
Despite dropping five of the past six games, the Aggies surged against their former Big 12 opponents, yielding the lead only once — for just 41 seconds in the final minute — during the entirety of the matchup.
From A&M head coach Billy Kennedy’s perspective, though, his team’s substantial amount of effort, particularly in the first half, deserved credit for the upset victory.
“I’m really proud of the fight our team had in the first ten minutes of the game,” Kennedy said. “We came out ready to play. We haven’t had good starts the past few games and we came out with a really good start. Everybody executed their role.”
Harris, a junior guard and first-year transfer, found his rhythm on the offensive front, leading the team with 17 points. Three other Aggies — sophomore forward Kourtney Roberson as well as seniors guard Elston Turner and forward Ray Turner — found their way into double-digit point totals on the night.
During the course of the first half, A&M pushed the tempo, storming out to an early 11-point lead while forcing four turnovers from the Tigers. The Aggies ended the half with a six-point lead and an impressive 67 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
A&M’s energetic style of play continued early in the second half, rocketing to a 46-32 lead off a 10-2 run. From that point on, however, Missouri chipped away at the score before drilling a three-pointer with 53 seconds left to take the lead.
“The whole team just seemed like they were a little bit more of an aggressor throughout the game,” Missouri senior guard Keion Bell said. “We did a really good job of fighting back into the game, we just didn’t finish. This was a big game for both teams so that’s where the intensity came from.”
Defensively, A&M was forced to find ways to contain Missouri’s star-studded backcourt. Freshman guard Alex Caruso made consistent contributions in disrupting a formerly fluid Tiger offense, pressuring passing lanes and tipping steals to teammates.
Harris, though, was tasked with containing Missouri point guard and Wooden Award candidate Phil Pressey. Harris held him to just 13 points and four assists, three under his season average.
Conversely, the Aggies fashioned an imposing 17 assists against the Tigers, distributing the ball to multiple key players.
Knocking off their first ranked opponent of the season, A&M will improve to 14-8 overall and 4-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Missouri drops to 16-6 on the year and 5-4 in the SEC.
With only nine regular season games remaining, the Aggies’ sense of urgency showed against the Tigers. Missing out on the NCAA Tournament in Kennedy’s first season in 2012, A&M hoped to squeeze their way into this year’s Big Dance.
“We realized that we needed to start making a run now,” Elston said following the win. “We’re practicing harder, we’re playing harder. It’s just a great win and we’re going to build off it.”