KNOXVILLE — Antwan Space hit a 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds left to lift Texas A&M to a 57-56 victory over Tennessee in Knoxville Saturday night.
The Aggies (11-4, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) trailed by as much as 14 points in the first half, and never led in the second half until the final basket.
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said the slow start was a combination of a young team and it being the Aggies’ first true road game of the season. Previously, Texas A&M had played on three neutral sites, in addition to its 11 home games.
Texas A&M didn’t make a field goal the last 9:34 of the first half and Tennessee led 32-18 at halftime.
Jamal Jones led the Texas A&M rally, scoring 20 of his 23 points in the second half and finishing the game 5 of 10 from 3-point range. Alex Caruso had 12 points for the Aggies. No other Texas A&M player scored more than six points.
With Texas A&M trailing 56-54 and only 17 seconds remaining, Caruso missed two free throws after being fouled by the Vols’ Antonio Barton. Tennessee’s Jeronne Maymon grabbed the rebound of the second missed free throw and was immediately fouled by Kourtney Roberson. Maymon then missed two free throws, giving the Aggies a final possession, setting up Space’s game-winner.
Space, who didn’t play in the first half, said he was looking for the Jones on the play, but couldn’t find him and, instead, shot it himself.
Space was just 2 of 16 from 3-point range on the season before the game, but made both of his attempts from beyond the arc against the Vols.
Barton led Tennessee (10-5, 1-1) with 12 points. Josh Richardson scored 11. Jordan McRae, the Southeastern Conference’s third-leading scorer entering the game, tied his season-low of nine points. Jarnell Stokes finished with just six points for Tennessee, all in the first half.
The loss ends a four-game winning streak for the Vols.
Tennessee built much of its first half lead with McRae and Stokes on the bench in foul trouble.
Last year’s meeting between the Vols and Aggies was just as thrilling, with Tennessee escaping College Station with a four-overtime 93-85 victory.
Both teams return to the court for mid-week home games on Jan. 15. The Aggies host South Carolina, while Auburn visits Tennessee.