It had been a while — Dec. 18, to be exact — since Cuonzo Martin’s Tennessee basketball team faced any adversity. Texas A&M provided plenty Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Antawn Space capped a furious second-half rally by the Aggies, hitting a 3 with 4 seconds left and giving A&M a 57-56 win, snapping Tennessee’s four-game win streak that dated back to the Dec. 18 loss to N.C. State.
With Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae battling early foul trouble, Antonio Barton had 12 points and Josh Richardson added 11 to lead the Vols (10-5, 1-1 SEC). McRae and Jeronne Maymon finished with 9 points each for Tennessee. Stokes had 6 points and five rebounds.
Jamal Jones had a game-high 23 for Texas A&M (11-4, 2-0 SEC) after scoring just 3 points in the first half. Alex Caruso had 12 and Space finished with 6.
A&M, which shot just 25 percent from the field and made just six free throws during a 17-point first half, cut the lead to 56-54 with 27 second left and, on the inbound, McRae was called for an offensive foul.
Caruso missed two free throws with 17 seconds left and a chance to tie the game, but Maymon missed two of his own free throws on the other end to set up Space for the game-winning 3 on the following possession.
A&M cut it to a 2-point game on a Jones jumper with 3:57 left, but Stokes found Maymon on the other end for 2, making it 52-48. After A&M’s next possession came up empty, Richardson extended the lead back to 6 on a jumper with 2:21 to go.
Richardson later saved Tennessee a possession by jumping in front of an Aggie on a long rebound off a missed Barton 3. While falling out of bounds, Richardson threw the ball off Texas A&M to keep the ball in Tennessee’s hands with a 54-51 lead and 1:27 left.
Barton hit a pair of free throws with 36.9 seconds to play, building Tennessee lead to two possessions, at 56-52.
The Aggies used a 9-0 run early in the second half, cutting what was a 38-24 Tennessee lead down to 38-33 before a pair of McRae free throws.
McRae and Stokes picked up two early fouls in the first half, but the Vols overcame the foul trouble on the defensive end, holding A&M to 17 points on just six made field goals over the first 20 minutes.
The Aggies were 6-of-24 from the field in the first half while the Vols out-rebounded A&M 20-13.
Richardson helped pick up the slack on offense, scoring a team-high 7 points in the first half. Stokes had 6, Maymon and Barton had 5 each.
McRae, A.J. Davis and D’Montre Edwards — who got considerable minutes with McRae in foul trouble — all had 3 points apiece.
Tennessee shot 41 percent from the field (10-of-24) and 40 percent from 3 (4-of-10).
A&M, which finished the half 0-for-10 from the field, led 5-4 at the 16:56 mark, before Tennessee closed the half on a 28-12 run.
Aggie forward Davonte Fitzgerald, who led all A&M scorers with 17 points in a win over Arkansas, picked up three fouls in the first half. He was scoreless in the first half.