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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)--Jordan Green scored a career-high 15 points and Kourtney Roberson notched a double-double as Texas A&M pulled away for a 82-58 win over Buffalo on Friday night, spoiling the head coaching debut of former Duke star and NBA player Bobby Hurley.
The Aggies (1-0) led only 53-52 with 11:35 remaining before putting away the Bulls (0-1) with a 29-6 run. A&M junior guard Jordan Green scored a career-high 15 points, while freshman Shawn Smith added 13, and sophomores Antwan Space and Alex Caruso chipped in 11 points each. Caruso also had eight assists.
"You get confidence from working hard," said Green, who got off to a good start after struggling through his first two seasons with A&M. "We've all been working hard, so I'm not surprised by any of us scoring."
A&M junior forward Kourtney Roberson, who was diagnosed with a rapid heartbeat during camp but cleared to play for the opener, notched a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
"That first five minutes I had to have someone (substitute) for me so I could get a second wind," a visibly worn but smiling Roberson said.
He wasn't a sure thing to play until Friday, Roberson said, when A&M coach Billy Kennedy asked, "Are you ready?" Roberson responded with a, "Yes, sir."
Javon McCrea led the Bulls with 14 points, as Buffalo shot only 24.2 percent from the floor, while slowly wearing down against the much more athletic Aggies. A&M fell behind 25-17 before closing out the first half with a 22-6 run to lead 39-31 at the break.
"As much as you know about the game and as much as you've been through as a player, it's a different game when you're coaching it," said Hurley, the former Duke star. "It feels pretty lonely at times, and it did in the second half.
"We did a pretty good job defensively in the first half, but we had some breakdowns in that half that cost us. That's a big difference, going into the first half being down two or up two, or down eight."
Players were separated on two occasions midway through the chippier-than-anticipated opener. Following the second separation, Buffalo guard Shannon Evans and Space received double technical fouls. The Aggies played without starting sophomore guard J-Mychal Reese, who's suspended because of a violation of athletic department rules and regulations.
The Bulls were coming off a 14-20 season prior to Hurley's hire, and the Aggies have missed the NCAA tournament in the first two seasons of Kennedy's tenure, after making it from 2006-11 under the prior staffs of Billy Gillispie and Mark Turgeon.
"I was really proud of our team that we were able to win on the defensive side of the ball," an emotional Kennedy said. "We finished off a game, and we haven't done that very often in the last two years. Any time you can win going away and finish a game the right way, it's fun."
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
- Texas A&M begins the 2013-14 season 1-0 while Buffalo falls to 0-1.
- For the Aggies, it’s their 13th consecutive season-opening victory and 14th straight win in a home opener.
- Since 1945, A&M is 58-11 (.840) in home openers.
- Texas A&M now leads the all-time series with Buffalo 1-0 and A&M is 7-6 all-time against the current members of the Mid-America Conference.
- The Aggie defense held the Bulls to 31.3 shooting percentage from the field (20-of-64) in the contest, including a stretch where A&M did not yield a Buffalo field goal during the game’s final 9:48 … As a team, A&M collected eight steals and blocked five shots.
- Offensively, the Aggies displayed good ball movement by notching 17 assists on 32 made field goals.
- Texas A&M used the starting line-up combination of Alex Caruso, Jordan Green, Kourtney Roberson, Antwan Space and Shawn Smith.
- Six Aggies made their A&M debut on Friday night (Davonte Fitzgerald, Dylan Johns, Jamal Jones, Tavario Miller, Antwan Space and Shawn Smith).
- For the second straight season, forward Kourtney Roberson scored the first points of the Aggies’ season, converting a lay-up at the 18:35 mark of the first period.
- Roberson enjoyed a career night, scoring a personal-best 15 points while notching a game-high 11 rebounds to record his third career double-double.
- Junior guard Jordan Green notched a career-best 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
- Sophomore guard Alex Caruso tied his career-high with eight assists while committing no turnovers in 33 minutes of action.
- Sophomore Antwan Space approached his first career double-double, finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds.
- A&M head coach Billy Kennedy is now 33-33 in his third season at Texas A&M and 244-212 in 16 years as a head coach.
FIRST HALF NOTES
- Sparked by six points from Jordan Green, including a pair of dunks, the Aggies used a 17-4 run to close out the opening half and take a 39-31 lead into the intermission.
- Texas A&M shot 44.4% during the opening half, making 16-of-36 field goal attempts … Conversely, the Bulls made 12-of-31 first half shots (38.7 percent).
- RS freshman guard Shawn Smith led the Aggies with 10 points, tying Buffalo’s Javon McCrea for high-point honors.
SECOND HALF NOTES
- Buffalo held a 49-48 lead with 13:19 to play before the Aggies went on a 34-9 run to end the game … The Bulls were held without a field goal during the game’s final 9:48, missing their final 14 shots of the contest.
- Texas A&M shot 16-of-31 (51.6%) from the floor during the second half, while Buffalo shot 24.2 percent (8-of-33).
- The Aggies host Mississippi Valley State on Monday night at Reed Arena in a 7 p.m. contest … the game will be televised by FSN.
- Buffalo, meanwhile, will continue its season opening road trip by playing at Niagara on Wednesday.
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH BILLY KENNEDY
“I was really proud of our team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We were able to play everybody. Buffalo is going to have a great season. I think we’re going to do a lot of great things.”
On his team’s improved athleticism & physical play:
“We played ten guys that were crashing the ball. I was really proud of Alex and Jordan for the leadership that they showed. We were able to run the ball side to side and get layups against them. We finished off the game.”
On Jordan Green:
“Character-that kid is special. He works; he’s in the gym all the time. He wants to play, but he always wants to help somebody else. You see a kid work hard and sometimes great things happen, and I love to see that.”
On Kourtney Roberson:
“Kourtney hasn’t practiced a lot these last two weeks, but he has a lot of experience. He can play much better, though. I was happy to see him play with more confidence in the second half than he did in the first half.”
On the Aggies’ second-half run to put the game away:
“We raised our level of play defensively and we shared the ball. Fabyon came in and got to the rim and dropped a couple on them. And we made three’s … If we can make eight three’s every game, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
TEXAS A&M JUNIOR GUARD JORDAN GREEN
On battling back after Buffalo took a second half lead:
“I was really proud of our maturity. They went on a little tiny run, but we knew that the first five minutes of the second half were going to be important, so we took the first punch but dodged the second one and went on our own run. Our veterans used our leadership to get the team going.”
On what this team is capable of:
“I sent a text out to the team last night that said ‘This is a memorable season.’ It’s been in all of our minds since the offseason. We’re working hard, we have guys in the gym at midnight, 1 a.m. working their butts off, so I’m not surprised about our success this first game. It should be an indication of how athletic we are. We still have a lot of things that we need to work on, but this should be a glimpse of what this season will look like as we mature.”
BUFFALO COACH BOBBY HURLEY
“It was an exciting environment, and we were excited to play here. I thought we did a pretty good job defensively in the first half. There’s a big difference going into the half down two or up two instead of down by eight or more, but we just couldn’t finish. Our players are still adjusting, learning this new scheme and so it wasn’t as clean as it should be. Our filed goal percentage is indicative of that. That being said, I have to give a lot of credit to Texas A&M. I thought their perimeter defense was really good, they disrupted the passing lanes and threw our offense off at times. They have a really great team. They have some really tough, physical big men. I thought we made a nice run in the second half to put ourselves back in the game with a chance to win despite having some foul trouble with key players. We missed layups and we didn’t secure rebounds. We allowed the game to get away from us.”