COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Texas A&M welcomed back J-Mychal Reese to its lineup following his four-game suspension to start the year, and something else that had been missing early this season: Decent long-range shooting.
The Aggies defeated Sam Houston State 79-62 in Reed Arena on Sunday, and Reese came off the bench to score five points in making both of his short field-goal attempts. The Aggies' 3-point shooting came from elsewhere, however, as Fabyon Harris made both of his long-range attempts in the first half, and A&M finished 4 of 10 (40 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Aggies (5-0) entered having made 18 of 68 (26.5 percent), and were coming off a dismal 2 of 13 showing in a 75-65 edging of Prairie View A&M on Tuesday.
"Fabyon making a couple of 3s early was good for us," A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "He's proven before he can shoot a high percentage at this level. And we've got to prove (again) that we can make shots."
Reese, Kennedy's most touted signee in his three-season tenure at A&M, averaged 6.2 points and 2.3 rebounds over 26 minutes per game as a freshman last season. He had been suspended in preseason camp for an unspecified violation of a team rule, and Kennedy had said when Reese returned would depend upon how he responded to the suspension.
Reese, a swift 6-foot-1 guard, helped shake the rust by adding four rebounds to go with two assists and a game-high four turnovers, in coming off the bench for 15 minutes of action.
"It's good to have another ball handler who has experience," Kennedy said of Reese's return. "It's going to take him a little time to get adjusted since he hadn't yet played, but it's nice to have another guard to put on the floor."
SHSU coach Jason Hooten said the Bearkats rarely play zone defense, but opted to based on A&M's poor long-range shooting percentage to start the season.
"They made some 3s, though, and that made it tough," Hooten said of the Aggies' response to his zone.
A&M offered up a balanced offensive attack, with seven players taking between five and seven shots. Forward Antwan Space led the Aggies with 12 points, while Harris followed with 10.
"We've got so many weapons," Space said. "We've got shooters and finishers. We don't have a team like last year, when we had one main scorer. It makes it easier for everybody."
Last season, then senior guard Elston Turner Jr. led the Aggies with 17.5 points, in taking 180 more shots from the field (467 total) than anyone else.
"That's our team," Kennedy said of the current Aggies spreading the ball around. "We had good balance all the way through."
SHSU (4-1), led by Kaheem Ransom's game-high 13 points (on 4 of 14 shooting), entered the game averaging 100 points per game. But its four prior victories had come against decidedly lesser competition.
"Our scoring average is not what it is," Hooten admitted. "I was concerned about us having a hard time scoring against the Aggies."
"We didn't want them to score over 50, but they did. Their (scoring average) was motivation for us," Kennedy said.
The Aggies, 5-0 for the first time since 2007-08, continue a soft home non-conference schedule on Tuesday against Arkansas Pine Bluff. Following their first loss of the season, the Bearkats travel to SMU the same day.
Texas A&M Basketball
Texas A&M 79, Sam Houston State 62
Nov. 24, 2013 ● Reed Arena
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
● The 79-62 victory over Sam Houston State on Sunday afternoon at Reed Arena saw Texas A&M improve its record on the year to 5-0 … It marked the first time A&M has started a season with five straight wins since the 2007-08 campaign.
● The Aggies lead the all-time series with the Bearkats by a margin of 67-17 and have won the last 18 meeting in the series.
● Texas A&M improved to 113-11 (.911) all-time in non-conference games inside Reed Arena.
● As a team the Aggies shot 57.1 percent (28-of-49) from the floor against the Bearkats, marking the third time in five games this season that A&M has shot better that 50 percent.
● Texas A&M owned a 41-29 advantage in the rebounding column, its best margin on the boards this season.
● SHSU was held to season-low 62 points; its previous low-water mark on the scoreboard was 77 points in a win over Texas-Pan American on Nov. 8 as the Bearkats came into the game averaging 99.8 points per contest.
● The Aggies used an 11-2 run just before the end of the first half to open a double-digit lead at 34-21.
● Texas A&M owned a 34-25 advantage at the intermission.
● A&M outscored SHSU 24-7 during the first seven minutes of the second half to build a 26-point lead at 58-32 … The Aggies’ advantage swelled to as many as 31 with 5:35 to play.
● Texas A&M used the starting line-up combination of Alex Caruso, Jordan Green, Kourtney Roberson, Antwan Space and Shawn Smith for the fifth time this season.
● 11 different Aggies scored during the win, with 35 of the team’s 79 points coming from non-starters.
● Sophomore forward Antwan Space led the Aggies in scoring for the first time during his A&M career, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting … Additionally, the DeSoto, Texas, native came just short of his first career double-double by pulling down nine rebounds.
● Senior guard Fabyon Harris also reached double-digits points with 10 on perfect 2-of-2 shooting from 3-point range and 4-of-4 mark from the free throw line.
● Sophomore guard J-Mychal Reese made his season debut in the contest and contributed five points, four rebounds and two assists.
● A&M head coach Billy Kennedy is now 37-33 in his third season at Texas A&M and 248-212 in 16 years as a head coach.
● The Aggies are back in action on their home court Tuesday evening when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff … the game will be televised by FSN and is slated to tip-off at 7 p.m.
● Sam Houston State, meanwhile, will travel to Dallas to face SMU on Tuesday.