COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M welcomed back forward Josh Nebo from injury, perhaps the difference between a win and loss on Monday night for the Aggies.
“Nebo is a big force down low,” A&M guard Jay Jay Chandler said following the Aggies’ 63-57 comeback victory over Louisiana-Monroe. “Doing what Nebo does is a big plus.”
Nebo earned his first action of the season with 17:50 remaining in the game, and not a moment too soon for the Aggies (2-0). They trailed the Warhawks 34-24 at the time, and he wound up making all three of his field-goal attempts, blocked three shots and grabbed four rebounds the rest of the way.
Chandler also came up clutch in the second half, as the Aggies wiped out the double-digit deficit. A&M trailed 36-26 with 17:08 remaining in the game when Chandler sank consecutive 3-pointers to pull the home team within four at 36-32.
Chandler then followed with two made free throws after a foul on his drive to the basket, giving ULM (2-1) a 36-34 advantage.
“Those were shots I always work on,” Chandler said of his long-range offerings. “So they didn’t come with any pressure.”
A&M finally tied the game at 45-45 on a thunderous alley-oop dunk by Nebo, who revealed that a hamstring injury had sidelined him in training camp.
The Aggies finally grabbed a lead at 47-45 when Nebo blocked a shot and Chandler finished the resulting fast break with a dunk at the 7:52 mark. Nebo then upped the lead the Aggies wouldn’t relinquish with another dunk, in lifting A&M to a 49-45 advantage.
“We kind of lost our nerve a little bit defensively, especially when they hit a couple of threes,” ULM coach Keith Richard said.
Warhawks guard Michael Ertel led all scorers with 25 points, in making 6 of 13 3-pointers. ULM (2-1) hurt itself with 20 turnovers, including five by Tyree White.
“You can’t have 20 turnovers and give them free points, and expect to win,” Richard said.
The Aggies played before only a couple thousand fans in a 13,000-seat arena, in Buzz Williams’ second game as A&M coach.
Williams said drawing larger crowds is akin to the movie “Field of Dreams” – in that he must build the program with a solid foundation to consistently interest fans.
“If you build it, they will come,” Williams said in citing the line from the popular baseball film.
Texas A&M: The Aggies defeated Northwestern State by 14 in their opener on Wednesday and were never really in any trouble. They overcame a 10-point second half deficit to prevail against the Warhawks, which should give them a lift on Friday against a top 10 foe.
ULM: The Warhawks can take plenty of heart in their first setback of the season, leading the Aggies by 10 in the second half before more talented A&M mounted a comeback.
The Warhawks stay on the road against the SEC on Thursday at Mississippi State.
The Aggies hope to finally draw a decent home crowd when they host No. 8 Gonzaga on Friday.
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