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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Setback aside, Aggies ready to face OU

 
 

After a stellar start in its first 13 games of the season, the Texas A&M men’s basketball team was knocked back to earth after a 70-56 loss to Texas Tech Saturday.
Even after a disheartening loss against the Red Raiders, head coach Billy Gillispie somehow found a way to see the loss in a positive light.
“We did get a good whipping by a very good team on their home court,” Gillispie said. “I think when you win a big game like we did against Texas, all your focus starts to slant toward winning the game and not enough toward the process of winning the game. I think we kind of got mixed up in thinking about the end result on Saturday, and the guys learned something from it. We won’t repeat those same mistakes.”
The Aggies have had only a few short breaths and three days to learn from their mistakes, as the No. 18 Oklahoma Sooners descend upon Reed Arena tonight.
The Sooners come in as a team on the rise, returning seven players from last year’s squad. Junior forwards Kevin Bookout and Taj Gray anchor down the Sooner squad, leading the team in several offensive and defensive categories.
Bookout notably leads the Big 12 Conference in field goal percentage, while Gray is second in rebounding and eighth in scoring. The Aggies will also have an eye on sophomore guard Drew Lavender, who scored 31 points last year in College Station in a 78-72 win over A&M and is coming off a 20-point performance against Baylor on Saturday.
Gillispie said it will take a lot from the whole A&M squad to compete with the Sooners.
“I haven’t seen too many weaknesses in them,” Gillispie said. “They’ve got great shooters (and) athletic ability. We’ll have to play at a very, very high level, and everyone is going to have to play as good as possible to give us a chance.”
The Aggies, though coming off their lowest point total in a game this season, are in the top five of most team categories in the Big 12, including fourth in scoring offense, first in scoring defense and first in rebounding margin.
A&M may still need a big step-up performance from the bench, as freshman Joseph Jones and sophomore guard Acie Law both are nursing sore feet from possibly playing in uncomfortable shoes. Gillispie said the decision of whether to play Law or Jones will be made closer to game time.
Regardless of whom he has on the floor against the Sooners, or the fact that the team is coming off the tough loss to Texas Tech, Gillispie said he knows that his team will perform.
“If we’re good enough to win, we’ll win. And if we’re not, then we won’t. And even if we play our best, sometimes we still won’t be good enough,” Gillispie said. “This team has promised me that they will play from start to end. We’re guaranteed 14 more games, and I’m convinced that we’ll play as hard as we possibly can in those games.”

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