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

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

The Battalion

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3 takeaways from men’s basketball’s loss to Wildcats

Freshman+guard+Wade+Taylor+IV+%284%29+dribbles+down+the+court+in+Reed+Arena+on+Wednesday+Jan.+19%2C+2022.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Freshman guard Wade Taylor IV (4) dribbles down the court in Reed Arena on Wednesday Jan. 19, 2022.

Texas A&M men’s basketball played host to No. 12 Kentucky on Wednesday, Jan. 19 and dropped an extremely close contest after A&M led for the majority of the game.
The home-court winning streak of 13 games, the longest since 2015-16, came to an end in the team’s first loss at Reed Arena of the year. It was the 13th all-time meeting between the teams and their first matchup since 2020. The last time the Aggies beat the Wildcats was in 2018, and A&M has now lost seven of its last eight games against Kentucky.
Here are three takeaways from the Aggies’ third loss of the season:
Free-throw shooting must be fixed in the future
A&M is among the worst in the conference from the charity stripe, and it once again presented large issues down the stretch when looking at how many points were left on the board. The Aggies have shot 63% this season and were 5-for-13 in the 6-point loss, for a percentage of 39%. This was an issue in the Arkansas and Georgia games and could be an issue as the Aggies go on to face even better teams than they’ve faced so far. Making free throws makes the difference in closely competitive games like this one, and even more so when the postseason rolls around. It might end up being the thing to end this team’s season in March if it can’t be improved upon.
“You look at the thin line,” sophomore forward Henry Coleman III said. “We didn’t shoot well from the free-throw line or the 3-point line, but for us to be in the game against a team like that shows what kind of team we are.”
Defense can take this team far
This team may not be lightning fast, but on the defensive end, the Aggies are relentless and do not give up easy baskets, regardless of the opponent. Transition and interior defense was on full display in the first half, with Kentucky only shooting 33% from the field. A&M also outpaced the Wildcats 16-10 in first-half defensive rebounds, which gave the Aggies chances to dictate the pace of the game. Junior guard Aaron Cash, who logged 27 minutes, was very effective on the floor with 11 rebounds and eight points.
“I thought [the team] played for one another,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “I thought our staff was spot on in regard to what would give us a chance to play and have a chance to win against one of the best teams in the country. We came up short, but not for how hard we competed and how hard we fought.”
It seems when the Aggies play defense like they did against Kentucky, they are much more efficient and engaged on the offensive end, especially in the transition with players like fifth-year guard Quenton Jackson and his finishing ability. In the second half, which saw the Wildcats get their first with nine minutes left, was an example of what happens when A&M’s defense tapers off. Kentucky started to establish more of a presence inside, and it seemed to tire out the Aggies.
Henry Coleman III is built to lead A&M
The Duke transfer was clearly ready to play in the biggest game of the season, and he seems to be emerging as this team’s most important player. He’s constantly active in the post, looking to find the open spot for a putback or use his size and strength to finish at the rim and even the occasional alley-oop to spark the crowd. On defense, he can swat shots out of nowhere or grab a rebound to start a fastbreak.
At halftime, he led the Aggies in points, blocks, steals, rebounds and didn’t have any turnovers. Coleman is also quite efficient in scoring and doesn’t take ill-advised shots that are overly contested. There’s also no doubt that his time at a big program like Duke helped prepare for Wednesday’s in-game environment against a top-tier opponent because he didn’t play nervously or seem out of place. It played like just another game for the talented, tall and physical forward. Coleman ended the night 8-for-12 from the floor with a team-leading 17 points, pulled in eight boards, logged two steals, one block and an assist.
“I think [my scoring has been about] guys finding me,” Coleman said. “I think it’s Marcus Williams, Wade Taylor, [Andre Gordon], [Jackson], [Hassan Diarra], Manny [Obaseki] — all those guys finding me when I’m cutting. Credit to them.”

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