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PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Michael Gbinije had 20 points, Malachi Richardson added 16 and Syracuse held off No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 on Friday in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game.
Gbinije was selected the tournament’s most valuable player. Trevor Cooney added 15 points and also made the all-tournament team.
It is Syracuse’s first early season tournament title since the Orange won the 2013 Maui Invitational.
The game was tight throughout the second half and featured nine ties and 12 lead changes.
But after the score was tied at 61, the Orange (6-0) outscored the Aggies (6-1) 13-6 over the final 5:38.
Jalen Jones led Texas A&M with 23 points, and Danuel House added 15.
The Aggies led by two at halftime. That changed in the final 20 minutes as they struggled to get easy baskets. They finished 7 for 11 from the free throw line.
The game was played within a basket for most of the second half.
The Orange was aggressive with its zone, but the Aggies were just as patient working for open shots.
The 3’s kept falling for Syracuse, though, and it finally got some separation at 72-63 on a three-point play by Cooney with 3:10 remaining.
Texas A&M got 16 first-half points from Jones and took two-point lead into halftime.
The Aggies held the edge despite a strong shooting performance from the Orange that included six 3-pointers.
Syracuse: Finished 11 for 25 from the 3-point line. … Had just two fast-break points.
Texas A&M: Had 36 bench points. … Had 18 assists on its 27 field goals.
Syracuse hosts Wisconsin on Wednesday.
Texas A&M hosts Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday.
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