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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

It’s time to stop ‘dreaming’ and start winning

Junior+center+Tyler+Davis+winces+in+pain+after+being+hit+in+the+face.
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Junior center Tyler Davis winces in pain after being hit in the face.

Ranked No. 25 in the preseason AP Poll, the A&M men’s basketball team started the season with a world of potential that can best be summed up with a simple self-given hashtag that can be found all over the team’s social media accounts: #ConfettiDreams.
The Aggies had their eyes set on the National Championship, now they are just trying to squeeze into the NCAA tournament field.
The Aggies got off to a strong start in the season, winning their first five games including their season opening 23-point rout of No. 11 West Virginia. The Aggies then suffered their first loss of the season to a very talented Arizona team before rattling off three straight wins.
The A&M squad was matching the lofty expectations that surrounded the program prior to the season. Then D.J. Hogg, J.J. Caldwell, and T.J. Starks were suspended.
The unfocused group was able to put together a performance that was good enough to defeat Buffalo, however the beginning of SEC play was a rude awakening for the maroon and white.
The Aggies lost their first five games in SEC play by an average of 10.8 points per game before slipping past Ole Miss on a missed buzzer-beater that elicited gasps in Reed Arena and defied physics to avoid Aggie heartbreak.
A&M then defeated Mizzou who was without future lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. and suffered lopsided defeats by LSU and Kansas to get to where they stand today: 13-8 overall, 2-6 in conference putting them tied for last in the SEC, and hanging on to NCAA Tournament chances by a thread.
With the amount of talent on this roster, there is simply no excuse for the Aggies to be in this position. Robert Williams would have been a lottery pick in last year’s NBA Draft and D.J. Hogg and Tyler Davis have garnered NBA interest  as well, however, their team is in danger of not being in the top 68 teams in the nation, and missing the tournament.
That can’t happen.
Davis has been the only reliable player on this Aggie squad. Despite the immense talent of the players around him, they are incredibly inconsistent and you never know which version of themselves is going to show up on any given day. Having off games is one thing, however, the Aggies seem uninspired on the court, and the scrappy-natured SEC teams simply seem to want it more.
The Aggies have seen lots of progress from their big men and we have seen a glimpse of how good Robert Williams and Tyler Davis can be. When they’re playing well, the duo is one of the most potent front courts in the country. The duo has played well in their last five outings, shooting 55 percent (61-of-110) from the field.
However, they’ve had little help from the rest of the team that has shot just 36 percent (71-of-195) during that span. Starting guards Admon Gilder and Duane Wilson are averaging just 8.2 and 3.6 points per game, respectively, in the last five games, as they are nursing lingering knee injuries.
Yes, having two starting guards out due to injuries hinders what you can do on offense. But, there’s not a team in the country that isn’t dealing with injuries right now and depth was supposed to be a strength of this team coming into the season.
Additionally, three-point specialist D.J. Hogg is just 6-of-25 from behind the arc in that span.
Head coach Billy Kennedy recognizes that with the Aggies’ very competitive schedule, they need to have production out of more than just their star duo.
“When you’re playing against the players we’re playing against, you’ve got to have your perimeter guards playing their best. Unfortunately, our big guys, who are playing really well at this time [are not getting help]. We’ve got to put it all together,” Kennedy said.
A major difference between the team we saw rout West Virginia and the current Aggie team is confidence.
At the beginning of the season, the Aggies were shooting with confidence, not thinking twice before firing off a three-pointer. Now, as seen in D.J. Hogg’s pump fake three-point shot against Kansas that barely grazed the rim, the Aggies are playing timid.
Billy Kennedy has to shoulder at least some of the blame for this underperformance. However, Kennedy continues the same narrative of kicking the can down the road that we heard during last season’s meltdown, stating that the team is and will continue to keep getting better.
“I know we’re going to play better, we can play a lot better,” Kennedy said. “I really believe we’re going to get better, I thought the second half against Kansas, we outscored them in the second half, we did some good things so we’re taking that as a positive and building off of that.”
However, the window for the Aggies to make it into the tournament is getting increasingly small. With just 10 games remaining, the Aggies need to convert their improvements into wins fast, or else, the confetti dreams will indeed just be dreams.

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