Aggies' Space Again Knocks Down Game-Winning 3 Against Vols

Texas A&M Holds Off Tennessee For 68-65 Overtime Victory

Saturday, February 22, 2014 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- For the second time this season Texas A&M's Antwan Space hit a game-winning 3-point field goal in the final seconds to beat Tennessee as the Aggies handed the Vols a 68-65 overtime defeat on Saturday afternoon. Space -- who had made just seven 3-pointers all season prior to Saturday -- hit one of those 3-pointer to beat the Vols on Jan. 11, in Knoxville, as time expired.

The Vols dropped to 16-11 overall and 7-7 in the SEC.

The Aggies have the same records as Tennessee. Texas A&M is now 15-2 in home games, winning its lone road game at Tennessee.

The Vols' Jarnell Stokes sent the game to overtime as he converted a lay-up with 0:00.8 left in regulation and was fouled by Alex Caruso that tied the game at 59. He missed the free throw, sending the game to overtime.

The Vols also appeared to have hit a game-winning 3-pointer by Antonio Barton with seconds remaining, but the Tennessee bench had called timeout, nullifying the basket. The game clock was reset to 2.4 seconds setting the stage for Stokes' winning play

The Aggies swept the season series, winning in dramatic fashion in Knoxville on Jan. 11, 57-56, on a last-second 3-pointer.

Jordan McRae led Tennessee with 20 points for his 24th game this season in double-figures.

Tennessee had a pair of double-doubles for the third time this season.

Stokes continued his monster play late in the season as he had 16 points and 16 rebounds for his SEC-leading 16 double-double this season. Stokes 12 of his points in the first half and didn't make a field goal in the second half until the final seconds.

Jeronne Maymon had his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds. He has combined with Stokes for the Vols three games this season with a pair of double-doubles in the same game.

Josh Richardson added 11 points for the Vols as only five players scored for Tennessee. Texas A&M outscored the Vols, 21-2 in bench points.

Texas A&M was led by Jamal Jones, who had 14 and Alex Caruso, who had 14 points before fouling out on the final play of regulation. Fabyon Harris 13 and Kourtney Roberson added 10.

In overtime, the teams traded leads for the first four minutes. Jordan Green hit a jumper with 42.4 left in the extra session to put the Aggies up 65-63.

Barton -- who had not scored all game -- knocked down two free throws with 15.5 seconds left to tie the game at 65.

That set the stage for Space to be the hero once again in the final seconds.

The largest lead for the game's first 36:40 was six points by Texas A&M.

The Aggies took an eight-point lead -- the largest of the game -- on a pair of free throws by Harris with 3:20 left in the game, 57-49.

Tennessee battled to stay close in the final minutes, but the Vols didn't make a field goal for a span of more than four minutes before Richardson had a steal and emphatic slam dunk with 1:20 left in the game. That brought the Vols within four at 57-53.

After a pair of A&M free throws, Maymon stuffed home a basket to keep the margin at four points, 59-55 with one minute left.

Stokes scored his first points of the second half on a pair of free throws with 25.6 seconds left in regulation, to cut it to 59-57. Stokes tied the game with eight-tenths of a second left in regulation to tie the game at 59.

Caruso took a fast break and slammed it home to put the Aggies up 49-43 with 7:39 on the clock, but McRae responded with a 3-pointer to bring the margin back to three.

A&M took a 45-41 lead with an 11-4 spur midway through the second half as Antwan Space -- who hit the game-winner in the first meeting -- made his first trey of the game.

The game was last tied at 39 on a Richardson's jumper with 12:18 left in regulation.

The Vols rallied to lead, at the half, 27-24. Three players combined for nearly all of Tennessee's key statistics in the first half. Stokes (12) and McRae (8) had 20 of the Vols 27 points. Stokes (10) and Maymon (9) had 19 of the team's 22 rebounds.

The first half started very sluggish for both teams, a total of 15 points were scored in the first 10 minutes as the Aggies held a 9-6 lead midway through the period.

Down by as many as five, the Vols scored the final seven points in the last three minutes of the first to take the halftime lead.

The Vols continue their two-game road stretch at Mississippi State on Wednesday night. That 8 p.m. tipoff airs on SEC TV and can be heard on the Vol Network from Starkville.

Postgame quotes:

TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Cuonzo Martin

Opening Statement...
"This was a hard fought game that went down to the wire. I thought our guys did a great job battling back, putting pressure on those guys, taking into overtime. It was a hard fought game, we just came up short."

On reason for timeout at end of regulation...
"So we could get into a good set. We were scrambled offensively because [Texas A&M] switched some things. One thing I wanted to do was give our guys a good shot and a good look at the basket. Antonio made the 3-point shot [after the timeout was called], but I wanted to give our guys a good look. We got a good look out of Jarnell."

On Jarnell's play to tie the game at the end of regulation...
"It's a play we run in practice. We go over our situations all the time. There's different options out of that particular play. But for us needing two points, going inside to Jarnell with one-on-one isolation. I thought Josh did a tremendous job of putting that ball through there and I thought Jarnell did a great job at catching that ball."

TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH BILLY KENNEDY

Opening Statement...
"Obviously, a great win for us. I think we played really great defense for the majority of the game. I have a lot of respect for Tennessee. Our guys continue to fight, continue to compete and that's what I'm most proud of at this time of the year."

On Antwan Space's shot to win the game...
"With eight seconds on the clock, we wanted the last shot. We drew it up for Space to fake the handoff to Jamal (Jones) because we thought he'd attract a lot of attention. (Jarnell) Stokes did a really good job of playing defense on him, and if you know Antwan, if he thinks a big man is guarding him, he's gonna shoot a three. We were really blessed that the ball went in. That's his shot. I don't love it every time, but it seems like it works against Tennessee." 

On the game plan on Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes...
"We wanted to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. Stokes has great hands and great feet. Obviously, he's very strong. It's hard to keep him from getting it or splitting double teams. He played 43 minutes and our post guys didn't have to play that much. I think that helped us in the end."

On Fabyon Harris...
"He was really down last game. I just told him 'You're going to help us win a game. You have to keep fighting.' I told him to keep his head in there and be about the team. If he did those two things, his time would come. I'm really proud of him for fighting through it."

On Alex Caruso...
"This was probably his best game in SEC play. He made great decisions, got to the rim and finished, and made all of his free throws until the last one, which I know he's disappointed about. Alex is all about winning, and he made some winning plays today."

TEXAS A&M SENIOR FAYBON HARRIS

On his effort off the bench...
"Coach Kennedy said, `Fab, I know this hasn't been your year, just keep playing through things and good things will happen.' That's what happened tonight."

On playing at home...
"The support we get from the fans, knowing we have people behind us. We're more comfortable. We practice in here so more shots fall. Our comfort level is just higher."

On his confidence growing after a solid performance...
"It can only go higher from here. Just keep working and doing what I've been doing."

TEXAS A&M SOPHOMORE ANTWAN SPACE

On the game-winning 3-pointer...
"Coach drew up the play for me. He had confidence in me, so I had confidence in myself. I just shot it. When it left my hands, I just felt it going in. It was a good shot. I want to thank my coach for drawing that play up for me and having confidence in me. The option was for me to fake hand off and just isolate so I could get to the rim on (Jarnell) Stokes. [Coach Kennedy] pretty much drew the play out for me even though I was struggling throughout the game ... The plan was for me to get all the way to the basket, but I saw them playing that, so I just shot it"

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)

 


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