COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M has been playing tough defense all season. This time, the Aggies got off to a quick start offensively, too.
"Our guys really came out with good energy, and that was good to see," first-year A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "We made some shots from the perimeter and we got some support from the bench. I liked our enthusiasm."
Ray Turner added 10 rebounds in his first career double-double for the Aggies (7-1), who have won 66 straight non-conference home games.
"I needed to get a double-double, to show people that I've improved and worked hard in the offseason," Ray Turner said. "And the only way to do that was on the court."
Demarcus Gatlin paced the Bearkats with 13 points, despite going 5 of 20 from the field. Sam Houston State finished 15 of 60 (25 percent) from the floor, the fifth straight opponent Texas A&M has held below 35 percent shooting.
Sam Houston State (3-6) struggled mightily from long range, finishing 4 of 24 on 3-pointers. The Aggies have held four opponents in a row under 50 points for the first time since the 1959-60 season.
"Defense is what we want to base this team on, and that's been the history of the program," Kennedy said. "We still have a long way to go, but when you're holding people down like that regardless of the quality of the opponent, that's good to see."
The Aggies also overpowered SHSU inside, compiling a 50-31 rebounding advantage (including 40 on the defensive end) and outscoring the Bearkats 34-16 in the paint.
SHSU is depleted by injuries and only eight players saw action.
"Our game plan was good, we just didn't really execute it," SHSU coach Jason Hooten said. "We were really bad tonight."
Sam Houston State had trouble slowing Texas A&M's up-tempo offense under Kennedy, as the Aggies outscored the Bearkats 11-4 on the fast break.
A&M has had a habit of starting slowly this season, but that wasn't the case on Wednesday as the Aggies jumped out to a 22-6 lead midway through the first half. Texas A&M led 31-17 at halftime and stretched the margin to 31 late in the second half.
Texas A&M sophomore forward Keith Davis had a career-high five blocks -- five more than SHSU had as a team. The Aggies' eight blocks were their most in two seasons.
A&M forward Kourtney Roberson (ankle injury) sat out as a precaution. Davis took advantage of Roberson's absence with 19 solid minutes.
Kennedy said he expects guard Khris Middleton, out since the opener with a knee injury, to return on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.
"I reached out to a lot of former players when I got here, and they're welcome any time," Kennedy said.
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Seton Hall sophomore Isaiah Whitehead will stay in the NBA draft and not return for his junior season.
Washington State's trio of Josh Hawkinson, Conor Clifford and Ike Iroegbu have withdrawn from the NBA draft and will play their senior season with the Cougars.
Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski, who missed most of last season with a back injury, says he is returning for another year.
|Stephen F. Austin||18-0||-||28-6|
|Sam Houston State||12-6||6||18-16|