COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Texas A&M freshman Davonte Fitzgerald led the way with 17 points as the Aggies toppled Arkansas 69-53 in Reed Arena in the teams' Southeastern Conference opener.
A&M (10-4) entered the contest shooting 29.9 percent from the 3-point line, but finished 7 of 17 (41.2 percent) against the Razorbacks (11-3) in an unusual display of collective hot hands from the outside. Meanwhile the Aggies' defense held Arkansas to 4 of 19 percent (21.1 percent) from the 3-point line.
Fabyon Harris and Jamal Jones chipped in 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Aggies, while Rashad Madden led the Razorbacks with a dozen points. The Razorbacks' leading scorer entering the game, Mike Qualls, was held to two points in making 1 of 12 shots from the field.
Texas A&M 69, Arkansas 53
Jan. 8, 2014 ● Reed Arena
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
● Texas A&M improved to 10-4 on the season and 1-0 in SEC play with the 69-53 win over Arkansas at Reed Arena Wednesday evening … The Aggies are 10-1 on their home court this season.
● The Aggies have opened SEC play with a win over the Razorbacks each of the last two years and are now 7-2 in their last nine conference-opening contests.
● The match-up between the old Southwest Conference rivals was the 150th in the long-time series between the schools which dates back to the 1923-24 season … Arkansas leads the all-time series 97-53.
● The Aggies started off hot from the floor in the contest making their first five shots, while UA misfired on its first five attempts … A&M shot 40.7 percent (24-of-59) for the game.
● Texas A&M’s defense held the Razorbacks to season lows in both points (53) and shooting percentage (36.2%) … It was the fourth time this season A&M has held an opponent to 55 points or less in a contest.
● The Aggies displayed great ball movement in the contest and were credited with 18 assists on 24 made field goals … A&M also notched 10 steals in the win.
● A&M collected seven blocked shots in the contest to record its seventh game of seven or more blocks this season and bring its total through 14 games up to 79 … A year ago, the Aggies had just 98 blocks the entire season.
● The Maroon & White used the starting line-up combination of Alex Caruso, Jordan Green, Fabyon Harris, Jamal Jones and Kourtney Roberson for the second time this season.
● The Aggies took a 35-33 lead into the intermission before outscoring the Hogs 34-20 after halftime.
● Sophomore Alex Caruso tallied a career-high 11 assists against the Razorbacks to become the first Aggie to reach double-digits in assists since Acie Law accomplished the feat against Texas on Feb. 5, 2007 … Caruso also contributed seven rebounds, four points and four steals.
● Freshman Davonte Fitzgerald enjoyed a career night in his first action in the SEC, finishing with a personal-best and game-high 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and a 7-of-8 mark from the free throw line.
● Senior Fabyon Harris produced his second straight game in double-digit scoring, racking up 15 points in the win … In three career games vs Arkansas, Harris is averaging 16.0 points per contest.
● Junior Jamal Jones approached his first career double-double by finishing with 14 points and a personal-best eight boards.
● A&M head coach Billy Kennedy is now 42-37 in his third season at Texas A&M and 253-216 in 16 years as a head coach.
● Texas A&M will embark on its first SEC roadtrip this weekend when it travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to face Tennessee … The game will tip-off at 5 p.m. (CT) and be televised by FSN.
Texas A&M 69, Arkansas 53
Jan. 8, 2014 ● Reed Arena
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH BILLY KENNEDY
“It’s great to get a good team win. We shared the ball and had 18 assists with Alex (Caruso) having 11. We made shots and played with great confidence. I’m proud of the fact that our guys bought in and knew when to slow down and run our offense most of the time. I thought the zone and change of defense gave us some good opportunities on the defensive end.”
On preparing for Arkansas’ physical play…
“We have a lot of respect for Arkansas and the way they play. They were our last game of the year last season down there. Our guys had an understanding of their physicality and we were able to turn it up a little bit in a couple drills. That may have helped prepare us.”
On Davonte Fitzgerald’s performance …
“Davonte is the same every day. You know what you’re going to get. He doesn’t always make shots or he might take some bad shots, but he plays with great confidence offensively and we needed that. I’m very proud of him. He’s a really good kid and he’s steady. That’s the best thing I can say about him.”
On the teams consistency and some up-and-down performances recently…
“We’re young. We’ve got a young group with a lot of new guys. I’m not surprised, but I expect more out of our older guys. We haven’t gotten that consistently. We had a good team performance. Fabyon (Harris) was really good. Kourtney (Roberson) did some good things. I thought Alex (Caruso) and Jordan (Green) provided good leadership out there for us.”
ARKANSAS HEAD COACH MIKE ANDERSON
“It’s our first game in the SEC and we opened up with A&M again. We came up a little short. We’re disappointed with our performance. We’ve got some guys in the locker room that are upset and mad at themselves. They know they missed an opportunity. I told them ‘let me take the blame for that.’ Teams are pretty good in our league. Our hats off to Billy Kennedy and his team; they play with a lot of energy. They scored some buckets early on which I thought gave them some momentum in the second half. They did a good job executing.”
TEXAS A&M FRESHMAN FORWARD DAVONTE FITZGERALD
“We knew they were pretty good at home. Coach said they struggled on the road a little bit last year, but we didn’t want to take them lightly at all. We just wanted to come out and play our game to get the win”
TEXAS A&M SENIOR GUARD FABYON HARRIS
On the physical play in the SEC…
“Our practices lately have been very physical because we’re starting conference play. It’s grown man basketball. That’s how it’s going to be all throughout conference. Coach hasn’t been calling a lot of fouls in practice. He’s been letting us play because that’s what the refs are going to do.”
On starting conference play…
“It’s a new year and a new season. We’re 1-0 in conference. We came in with a lot of confidence. We weren’t lacking confidence. It’s a new season and a new year.”