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SEC MEN'S TOURNAMENT - 1ST ROUND - Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN

Aggies defeat Commodores 69-52, advance to second round

67 days ago
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Texas A&M Aggies finally have a victory at the Southeastern Conference Tournament after leaving empty-handed each of their past two trips.

Savion Flagg scored 17 of his career-high 29 points in the first half, and 11th-seeded Texas A&M beat Vanderbilt 69-52 Wednesday night in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Last year, the Aggies lost on a buzzer-beater to Alabama and Vanderbilt the year before that. Even though Flagg and Chandler are both sophomores, they're the only Aggies to play in this tournament before and they knew how long it had been.

"So coming in here and just getting a win, we're just going to keep it going, just keep the momentum going through the tournament," Aggies guard Jay Jay Chandler said.

Texas A&M (14-17) snapped a two-game skid and will play No. 6 seed Mississippi State in the second round Thursday night.

Vanderbilt (9-23) never led and added to the worst season in school history with a 20th straight loss. The Commodores already went through the SEC schedule as the first team in 65 years without winning a single game. They turned in the first losing record in 67 seasons at Memorial Gym, and being a couple miles away at Bridgestone Arena didn't help.

Saben Lee led Vanderbilt with 19 points. Yanni Wetzell had 10 points and 10 rebounds and said the skid hurts a lot.

"It's going to be a long offseason," Wetzell said.

Christian Mekowulu hit a jumper within the first minute, and Flagg added a jumper as Texas A&M took control from the opening tip. Lee scored four straight to tie it up for Vanderbilt. Chandler's layup with 15:42 left put the Aggies ahead to stay, and he followed with a 3-pointer as Texas A&M built its lead to as much as 15 on Flagg's jumper for a 34-19 halftime lead.

Texas A&M took its biggest lead on a dunk by Nebo nearly midway through the half at 50-31. Then Vandy put together its best run of the game at 13-2, and Aaron Nesmith's 3 with 6:23 to go pulled the Commodores within 53-43. They never got closer than 10 down the stretch.

BIG PICTURE

Vanderbilt: The Commodores at least extended their streak with a made 3-pointer to 1,063 games, a streak that was in serious doubt after they missed their first 12 attempts. Matt Ryan knocked down a 3 with 17:48 left to keep Vanderbilt with UNLV and Princeton as the only programs to hit a 3 in every game since the 3-point line was added for the 1986-87 season. Ryan finished 1 of 8 beyond the arc, and Vandy was just 3 of 23.

Texas A&M: The Aggies were in such control that Kennedy was able to able to rest Flagg a bit after the guard had played all 40 minutes of two of the past three games. The sophomore came in leading the SEC in minutes played averaging 34.6 minutes per game and still played 35 minutes.

UP NEXT

Texas A&M: A rematch with Mississippi State after losing to the Bulldogs in the regular season finale.