COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Wendell Mitchell scored a season-high 18 points and Texas A&M brushed aside Northwestern State 80-59 on Monday night.
Christian Mekowulu added 14 for the Aggies, including making 8-of-10 free throws.
The Aggies dominated the Demons in blocks (12-2), steals (10-2), second-chance points (15-6), points off turnovers (18-10) and bench points (30-11).
Ishmael Lane led NSU with 16 points.
The Aggies (3-4) sprang to a 38-24 halftime lead courtesy of T.J. Starks, Brandon Mahan and Mekowulu each scoring eight points in a balanced offensive attack. Texas A&M forced 15 NSU turnovers and blocked six Demons shots in the first half. Northwestern State committed only three turnovers after halftime but trailed by double figures throughout the second half.
NSU (2-7) has lost three consecutive games by an average of 26 points. The Demons lost 77-47 at UTEP on Saturday night.
A&M: The Aggies continue playing without senior leader Admon Gilder, out indefinitely with undisclosed "health issues," according to A&M. A&M coach Billy Kennedy has denied any reports claiming Gilder is out for the season, instead saying that is to be determined.
Gilder has not played this season after missing practices leading up to the game with what A&M described as knee and hamstring issues, and the Aggies continue to adjust without him.
NSU: The program pulls no punches in its pregame notes, describing the Demons' performance of late as a "slump," ''anemic" and sounding "alarm bells," among other colorful depictions. If it's a motivational ploy it didn't work, considering the anemic Demons trailed by 14 at halftime and never made it interesting in the second half.
A&M plays host to Boston College on Saturday in trying to win three straight for the first time this season.
NSU has a short break before playing at No. 13 Texas Tech on Dec. 12.
Texas A&M Basketball Postgame Notes
Texas A&M 80, Northwestern State 59
Reed Arena (College Station Texas)
ABOUT THE GAME
Texas A&M improved to 3-4 with an 80-59 win over Northwestern State on Monday night at Reed Arena.
The Aggies have now won eight straight games against the Demons, leading the all-time series 8-2.
The Aggies forced Northwestern State into a three-minute scoring drought with just inside 13 minutes to play in the first half. Sophomore Brandon Mahan nailed a three to put the difference in double figures, 19-7, for the first time in the game.
Texas A&M never trailed and led by as many as 21 points in the game, and did not allow the Demons to get back within single digits.
The Aggies’ 12 blocked shots in the game matches a program single-game record, set against Mississippi State on Nov. 11, 2013.
Despite a narrow difference on the boards, A&M dominated in the paint production-wise, outscoring Northwestern State 32-18.
Texas A&M used the starting lineup combination of TJ Starks, Brandon Mahan, Jay Jay Chandler, Savion Flagg and Christian Mekowulu for the fifth time this season (2-3).
Junior transfer Wendell Mitchell recorded his first double-figure scoring game in just his fourth game in the Maroon & White, leading the way with 18 points.
Sophomore TJ Starks notched his fifth straight game in double figures, finishing with 12 points.
Senior Christian Mekowulu reached double figures in scoring for the third time in the last four games. He put up 14 points against the Demons.
Sophomore Savion Flagg filled out the stat sheet, finishing the game with nine points and six rebounds, while adding six assists and three blocks, both new career highs.
Sophomore Jay Jay Chandler also played a well-balanced game, putting up seven points and adding five boards, three assists, three steals and a block.
Billy Kennedy is now 140-102 in his eight-year tenure at Texas A&M and 351-281 in his 21 seasons as a head coach.
The Aggies remain at home this week as they host Boston College on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. Tickets are available [12thman.com/mbbtickets]here.
Head Coach Billy Kennedy
“It was good to be able to play everybody, to see the progress that Wendell [Mitchell] has made this last week and being able to practice. We are going to have to play much better to be able to beat a good Boston College team on Saturday.”
On the 10-day break…
“We were able to work on some things to get prepared that we haven’t been able to do because we haven’t had Wendell Mitchell really be able to practice. And to have all our guys practice for 10 days was really helpful. We spent a lot of time on zone offense. We expected to see more zone today and we didn’t see it, but we were able to work on some things that we need to get better at.”
On being able to take time to refocus…
“The biggest thing is that we need to get a lot better, and the best way to get better is in practice. I think that is the best thing, we were able to look at different line-ups and rotate line-ups all week. We worked on some special situations, that will help us down the road, I think more-so against Boston College than in tonight’s game.”
Junior Guard Wendell Mitchell
On having a big scoring night…
“It felt good, I haven’t played in a while and I just feel like I am able to get my confidence back and I am able to play more fluid, without having to worry about my previous injury. I’m just trying to get back to what I basically do, which is score and create for my teammates.
On the 10-day break…
“It was great because we got to see what we needed to work on. We definitely got better at the things that we felt were our weaknesses, so it was good to get back and get some practice.
“We got better at sharing the ball a little more, making the right decisions, easy plays; things like that.”
On his 13-point second half…
“My teammates just found me. I just took care of the little things like getting my shot.”
Senior Forward Christian Mekowulu
On being able to mentally reset during the 10-day break…
“Yeah, we got better. We took our time to tighten up what we had to tighten up as a team. I think this was a good 10 days off to get back and help prepare as a team.”