COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - TJ Starks had 19 points and Jay Jay Chandler added 18 to help the Texas A&M Aggies roll to their second straight win, 73-56, over the struggling Georgia Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
It's the fifth straight loss overall for Georgia (10-14, 1-10 Southeastern Conference) and the team's ninth straight conference defeat.
The Aggies (10-13, 3-8), who won at Missouri on Saturday to snap a three-game skid, got their first home SEC win by downing the Bulldogs and won consecutive games for the first time since December.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to eight after three free throws by Jordan Harris early in the second half. But Texas A&M scored the next six points, with three each from Christian Mekowulu and Wendell Mitchell, to make it 40-26 with about 16 minutes remaining.
Nicolas Claxton ended the run with a 3-point play for Georgia, but the Aggies added seven quick points after that to push the lead to 47-29. John Walker had a dunk in that stretch before a steal and a dunk by Starks and a 3 by Chandler.
Georgia was led by Claxton, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Harris added 10 points.
Mekowulu had 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for the Aggies.
The Aggies were still up by 18 with about seven minutes left before Claxton scored the first five points of a 7-2 run that cut the lead to 61-48. But Texas A&M used a 4-1 spurt, with a jump shot by Starks, after that to push the lead to 65-49 with about four minutes left and cruise to the victory.
Georgia shot just 35.3 percent overall, but really struggled from long range, making 3 of 23 shots. The Aggies a big boost from its bench, which outscored Georgia's reserves 39-10.
Georgia: The Bulldogs haven't won since a non-conference victory over Texas on Jan. 26 and could see their conference losing streak stretch to double digits with a visit from No. 19 LSU coming up on Saturday.
Texas A&M: The Aggies handled business on Tuesday night against a struggling team, but will need to play better if they hope to keep their winning streak going.
Georgia: Hosts No. 19 LSU on Saturday.
Texas A&M: Visits South Carolina on Saturday.
Texas A&M Basketball Postgame Notes
Texas A&M 73, Georgia 56
Reed Arena (College Station, Texas)
ABOUT THE GAME
The Aggies moved to 10-13 on the year, 3-8 in SEC play, making it back-to-back league wins with a 73-56 victory over Georgia Tuesday night.
After three ties and six lead changes to start the game, A&M went on a 16-2 scoring spree to get out to a double-digit lead.
The Aggies finished the half strong, taking a 34-21 lead in to the break behind 11 first half points by Jay Jay Chandler.
A&M remained in control the rest of the way, never allowing the difference to get back to single digits and leading by as many as 19 points.
A&M committed just seven turnovers in the game, limiting itself to single digits in the category for the third time this season (Arkansas, Alabama).
The Aggies used the starting lineup of Chris Collins, Wendell Mitchell, Brandon Mahan, Savion Flagg and Christian Mekowulu for the second time this season (2-0).
Sophomore TJ Starks, who led the Aggies in every major stat category in last year's meeting at Georgia, paced the team with 19 points off the bench. He added four steals and committed just one turnover.
Sophomore Jay Jay Chandler returned to double figures to help lead the way with 18 points on the night.
Graduate student Christian Mekowulu made it back-to-back games with a double-double after recording his first at Missouri. He finished with 15 points and a career high 15 rebounds against Georgia.
Billy Kennedy is now 147-111 in his eight-year tenure at Texas A&M and 358-290 in his 21 seasons as a head coach.
The Aggies return to the road this weekend, traveling to South Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 16 for a 12 p.m. tip against the Gamecocks.
Texas A&M Head Coach Billy Kennedy
"It was good to see us share the ball and get 16 assists and only turn the ball over seven times. I thought our zone defense was pretty good for us for the most part. To outrebound Georgia was also impressive for us because Georgia is a really good rebounding team."
On Christian Mekowulu…
"Christian [Mekowulu] seemed to get every big rebound, and had a heck of a game getting 15 points and 15 rebounds. Christian is pretty sharp. He understands the opportunity for him to play more minutes and need for him to do more. With his confidence level, you can tell he is a lot more aggressive offensively. His left hand jump poke that he made was a big time play. He hasn't guard someone with his left hand in a while. He is a mature kid and he understands and he has done a really good job staying on course every day. He works hard."
On TJ Starks…
"One of the most efficient games he has played. One of the best stat lines that he's had since he has been here. I think he is getting better hopefully we can continue to build off of this."
On staying out of foul trouble…
"I think the zones help us stay out of the foul trouble. That's been key. Christian has done a better job moving his feet and not getting the cheap fouls."
On extending the gap…
"We had a good poise, they had to press and they had to take some chances and we moved the ball better than we have against pressure."
On a SEC home win…
"Really big, this has been a good home court advantage for last seven years. It's a good to get a win at home in front of our fans who come out and support us."
On two back-to-back wins and heading to South Carolina…
"Hopefully we got a lot of confidence. I think we are playing with more confidence and playing better together. Now we have to go to South Carolina, a tough place to play, against a team who is playing very well in league play. They will be the most physical team we play."
On Jay Jay Chandler…
"He made two threes but he played the game the way he is successful by driving the ball and it opened up some opportunities for him against the zone where he took good threes. When he is driving and slashing in transition. He's tough to guard, and he is a good free throw shooter."
Senior Forward Christian Mekowulu
On getting first SEC win at home…
"It feels great. Every home game, we go in trying to protect our home court so finally getting a conference win at home is big."
On (Josh) Nebo being out this game…
"I just knew I had to bring it since Josh Nebo would be out this game. He brings a lot of energy to the team, lots of rebounds and blocked shots, so I had to step up for him."
Sophomore Guard Jay Jay Chandler
On keeping momentum in the game…
"We all just stayed connected and worked to finish the game strong. The main thing that has been affecting our team is just finishing games. So, we all are just are working on staying connected and listening to our coaches. We just have to stay fighting so we can get the win."
On coming into game making nine-straight shots…
"I just picked my points on the offensive end and picking the right times to attack the rear or just knocking down kick-out three's. Just applying what we practice on every day. I just have to keep shooting them with confidence."
On Coach Kennedy…
"He is always positive. No matter how many loses we have, he is always positive and keeps us moving forward and staying connected. He just comes in everyday with the same attitude of just getting better so we just have to keep that same attitude as well."