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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said it's that time of year to guard against natural comforts - aka playing at home against an allegedly lesser opponent.
"Sometimes those are hard games on the coaches," Kennedy said. "You know how hard it is to motivate your guys and get them ready to play. You know that you're capable of losing to some of those teams that you play."
The No. 7 Aggies appeared capable of losing to Prairie View A&M early in the second half on Saturday, before finally waking up and walking away with a 73-53 victory.
The Aggies (8-1) led 44-40 5 minutes into the second half before scoring the next 18 points over a 7-minute span to put away the game against the outmanned Panthers (2-7).
"They came out in the second half and showed why they're a Top 10 team," Panthers coach Byron Smith said of the Aggies. "I expect to see them make a long run in the (NCAA Tournament)."
A&M forward Robert Williams far outpaced everyone else on the court with 16 rebounds, which tied a career-high in his two seasons at A&M. On the downside for the Aggies Williams also had a game-high five turnovers, and the Aggies had seven more miscues (17-10) than the Panthers.
Zachary Hamilton led the Panthers with a game-high 18 points and Gary Blackston followed with 17.
Both teams were bad from long range, as the Aggies made 5 of 18 3-point attempts (28 percent) and the Panthers made 3 of 15 (20 percent). Smith compared the wildly athletic Williams to former NBA standout Antonio McDyess.
"I've heard stories about him, but that's a little before my time," Williams said in response. "From what I hear, that's an honor."
Prairie View: The Panthers can take heart in playing the seventh-ranked team in the nation close for more than a half, especially in playing their seventh straight game away from home to start the season. Prairie View might be disappointed right now, but such challenges as Saturday greatly prepare the Panthers for SWAC play.
Texas A&M: The Aggies have further proof they need faster starts to the games they're expected to win in a runaway, considering they only led the Panthers by four nearly 5 minutes into the second half.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
While Prairie View had two blocks total, A&M big men Tyler Davis and Williams collected four blocks each in intimidating the Panthers in the paint.
The Aggies are likely to slide at least a couple of spots in the rankings after losing to unranked Arizona on Tuesday in Phoenix.
A&M point guard J.J. Caldwell only played 4 minutes after he suffered a bruised bone near his eye, Kennedy said. He added Caldwell should be OK moving forward.
HE SAID IT
"Sometimes you get too comfortable, and that's when upsets happen. When you win by 20 points it's a good win, no matter who you're playing against." — Kennedy on returning to the comforts of home against a SWAC team.
Prairie View: The Panthers are beginning the final stretch of playing their first 13 games on the road. They play at Tulsa on Thursday, and don't play at home until Dec. 29.
Texas A&M: For the first time this season the Aggies are settling in at home, as Saturday's game marked the first of four consecutive nonconference games in Reed Arena. A&M next plays host to Savannah State on Wednesday, the first time this season they've played back-to-back games at home.
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