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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A dish served cold

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Photo by Kyle Heise

Senior F Henry Coleman III (15) drives to the basket for an one-1 during Texas A&M’s game against Penn State at the ESPN Events Invitational in Kissimmee, Florida on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.

On March 16, 2023, A&M’s first run in the NCAA tournament was cut short, as Penn State throttled the Maroon and White, 76-59.
Eight months later, the Aggies got revenge.
After giving up a lead early in the first half, A&M pulled away near halftime and didn’t look back, maintaining a lead the entire second half en route to a 89-77 victory.
Henry Coleman III is a 3-point machine, and he hasn’t taken a shot from behind the arch
Fresh off of being named SEC Player of the Week, senior forward Henry Coleman III outdid himself in arguably the best game of his career.
The Richmond, Virginia native finished the game against Penn State with 24 points and six rebounds, going 8-11 shooting and 8-10 from the line.
At the 10:25 mark in the second half, Penn State began to close in on the Aggies, pulling within 5. On his own, Coleman scored 11 of A&M’s next 16 points — 9 of which came from and-1 opportunities — helping the Aggies keep the lead and securing victory down the stretch.
With senior F Julius Marble still out, Coleman has been the Aggies’ go-to big man, and has flourished in his role, averaging a double-double with 15.4 points and 10 rebounds.
A&M continues to play in close games and continues to win
If you’re an Aggie fan, it may be a good idea to schedule a weekly check-up with your local cardiologist with how this season has shaped out for A&M.
Excluding the opening game against Texas A&M-Commerce, every game since has been a nail-biter. On the road against Ohio State, neither team ever secured a double-digit lead. Against SMU, the Mustangs’ home 3-point shooting kept them in it late. Against Oral Roberts, a supposed tune-up game, the Golden Eagles were still within reach near the end. And now, in the first round of the ESPN Events Invitational, the Nittany Lions went blow-for-blow against A&M.
Despite all of this, the Aggies are 5-0 for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
“[Playing close games] allows us to compound good habits on top of good habits,” Coleman said. “I think that’s what this team is kind of built on, daily habits and we just compound them on top of each other. We’ve created a culture, a working culture, so we’re ready to work each and every day.”
With games still left in the invitational, A&M’s experience with close wins will be crucial, especially with a potential top-25 matchup against FAU and a road game against Virginia in the ACC-SEC Challenge on the books.
“Texas A&M has a very, very good team,” Penn State coach Mike Rhoades said. “They’ve got vets, and they’re tough … A&M is very well-coached, they have really good players. They played like vets today.”
Wade Taylor IV isn’t perfect, but he’s essential for giving the Aggies momentum
After going 4-13 shooting and 0-3 from deep against Oral Roberts, and despite his six turnovers against Penn State, Wade Taylor IV gave the Aggies a spark when they needed it most.
Early in the second half, Taylor gave A&M its first double-digit lead on a 3, then with almost eight minutes to go, stymied a Nittany Lions’ run with an and-1 to pull in front by 9.
Then as Penn State eyed a potential comeback just under four minutes, hit his second 3-point shot, following that with a tough turnaround jumper to give the Aggies a 10-point lead with 2:39 to go.
“I practice [tough shots] every day,” Taylor said. “We always come into the game knowing most of the defenders on [Andersson] Garcia, Henry and Manny [Obaseki] are going to collapse on me. So if I don’t have a pass to Henry or Manny or Wildens [Levique], I just try to finish it myself.
Taylor did not have his greatest game, but when you’re pegged as the preseason SEC Player of the Year, a lot of eyes are going to be on you. While he accounted for over half of the team’s turnovers, he was crucial to stopping multiple Penn State runs late in the game, and A&M will ask him to do that even more this season.
The Aggies did well against an aggressive Penn State defense
The Nittany Lions coming into this game had one of the best defenses in the country, coming in at No. 3 with 53.5 points per game allowed and No. 5 in opponent field-goal percentage at 34.632. They were also No. 2 in opponent turnovers, forcing 21.5 a game.
Despite this, A&M shot almost 60% from the field, going 35.7% from deep. Additionally, the Maroon and White only surrendered 10 points on 10 turnovers to the Nittany Lions.
Even in the second half when Penn State began a full-court press, the Aggies managed to avoid a 10-second violation and even managed to turn the Nittany Lions’ defense into offense, including when junior F Andersson Garcia went the whole length of the court before dumping the ball to sophomore F Solomon Washington.
A&M will play some of the best defenses in the country this season, including Virginia and Tennessee twice. The Aggies will have to win against stout defenses, and they’ve passed the test early this season.

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