RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Tyler Davis had 23 points and 13 rebounds, Admon Gilder scored 23 points and No. 25 Texas A&M overcame a sluggish start to dominate No. 11 West Virginia 88-65 early Saturday in the Armed Forces Classic.
D.J. Hogg added 19 points for the Aggies, who played without suspended forward Robert Williams and point guard J.J. Caldwell. Gilder also had nine rebounds and seven assists.
James “Beetle” Bolden led West Virginia with 19 points. Jevon Carter added 13 and Wes Harris scored 12.
The game was played in a hangar on the sprawling Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany and it marked the only matchup among ranked men’s teams on the opening day of the college basketball season.
West Virginia had its highest AP preseason ranking since 2009-10. But the Mountaineers struggled mightily after jumping to an early 13-point lead.
West Virginia got sloppy with the ball and committed several turnovers against the Aggies’ zone defense late in the first half.
Texas A&M went on a 19-2 run spanning both halves, with Gilder’s 3-pointer giving the Aggies a 57-40 lead with 15:29 left.
By then, the Mountaineers looked spent and Texas A&M kept pouring it on.
Behind Gilder and Hogg, the Aggies’ bench outscored West Virginia’s reserves 49-25.
Texas A&M: The Aggies shot well from all areas of the court, including 10 of 19 from 3-point range, and will be a team to watch as the season progresses. Three newcomers got their first starts: freshmen Savion Flagg and JayJay Chandler and graduate transfer Duane Wilson.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers forced five turnovers in the first 5 minutes but their relentless pressure defense took a toll on themselves. West Virginia started the game 10 of 17 from the field and finished 24 of 70 (34 percent).
Williams, who had 11 double-doubles last season and returned to school this season instead of declaring for the NBA draft, was suspended for the first two regular-season games for violating school policy. Caldwell will miss the first four regular-season games. West Virginia forward Esa Ahmad, the team’s second-leading scorer last season, also was ruled ineligible by the NCAA and will miss the first half of this season.
BACK FROM SUSPENSION
Gilder and Hogg had been suspended for an exhibition game last week against Tarleton State for violating university policy.
The game marked the sixth straight year of the Armed Forces Classic, which has been held at venues around the world with a heavy presence of U.S. military personnel. Michigan State and Connecticut participated in the inaugural event at Ramstein Air Base in 2012. Next year’s event will be held at Fort Bliss, Texas.
DO IT AGAIN
The teams met in a rematch of last season’s Big 12-SEC Challenge, won by West Virginia 81-77 in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Texas A&M should move up in the AP poll but the Aggies will have some tough tests over the next month, including No. 10 Southern Cal and No. 3 Arizona. West Virginia looks to fall several spots.
Texas A&M faces UC Santa Barbara at home next Friday.
West Virginia plays American at home next Wednesday.