Josh Nebo scored 17 points on 5-for-5 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and collected four blocks as Texas A&M wiped out a 10-point halftime deficit and defeated Mississippi 57-47 on Tuesday night.
"We've just really been getting after it in practice, and working hard," Nebo said. "We knew it eventually would translate."
The Rebels leaped to a 29-19 halftime lead thanks to Breein Tyree's hot hand and the Aggies' collective cold shooting. Tyree scored 21 points in the first half, thanks to sinking 8-of-10 field goals, including 5-of-7 3-pointers. Meantime the Aggies missed all 10 of their 3-point attempts in the first 20 minutes, and finished 3-of-17 from long range.
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Tyree entered the contest averaging 16.5 points per game, good for seventh in the SEC. But the Aggies (7-6, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) figured out how to minimize the guard, and went on a hot streak of their own to start the second half, in outscoring the Rebels 15-3 to grab a 34-32 lead with about 12 minutes remaining in the game.
A&M first-year coach Buzz Williams earned his first SEC victory, and was especially animated on the sidelines during the game.
"It has nothing to do with me, I just have the ultimate respect for how hard our guys are trying," Williams said of his extra emotion.
A&M guard Wendell Mitchell scored all nine of his points in the second half, when the Aggies outscored the Rebels 38-18.
"In the first half it was just one guy," Mitchell said of Tyree's scoring flurry. "Everything was falling for him. We focused on him and made sure no one else got going, as well. And in the second half we had to fight."
Tyree led the Rebels (9-5, 0-1) with 26 points. Emanuel Miller also finished with nine rebounds for the Aggies. The Aggies had started SEC play with a loss at Arkansas on Saturday, while the Rebels played their first conference game after a loss at Wichita State on Saturday.
Rebels coach Kermit Davis also coached at A&M for a lone season (1990-91), and the NCAA hit the Aggies with a ban from postseason play in 1991-92 and two years probation following his tenure in College Station.
"Give a lot of credit to Buzz and his staff and his players, they competed really hard," Davis said. "Their team is really improving, and they're a tough group. They're going to be a tough out for a lot of teams here."
Mississippi: Davis had a rugged tenure at A&M nearly three decades ago, finishing 8-21 in one season, and Tuesday's setback perhaps brought up bad memories for Davis in this part of the prairie.
Texas A&M: Williams said last week his team might not be favored in any conference game, and at times Tuesday he appeared prophetic. But his teams have long been known for their grinding style, and that was evident in the second half, in wearing down the Rebels.
Mitchell missed a layup, but Nebo was there for a follow-up slam dunk to a roar from the few thousand fans on hand.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Aggies shot 26.9 percent (7 of 26) from the field in the first half, and 54.5 percent (12 of 22) in the second half.
HE SAID IT
"You can't get any worse than that, so keep shooting." - A&M's Wendell Mitchell after the Aggies missed all 10 of their 3-point attempts in the first half.
The Rebels host Arkansas on Saturday.
The Aggies play at Vanderbilt on Saturday.