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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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Aggies battle to first road win of 2020-2021 season in Starkville

Photo by Photo by Harrison Cain

Freshman guard Hassan Diarra recorded six points and a career-high five assists against Mississippi State.

Texas A&M’s men’s basketball managed to get back in the win column with a 56-55 victory over Mississippi State in Starkville on Wednesday, following two conference losses.
A&M coach Buzz Williams recognized the need for improvement, but praised the team for its comeback, road win and effort collectively displayed.
“I think winning on the road is a mark of some level of toughness and some level of growth and maturity that you have,” Williams said. “The togetherness and fight to try to bend the game toward you, whether you play at home or on the road.”
The two maroon and white teams fought neck-and-neck for the first eight minutes but once the game tied at 10, the Bulldogs outscored the Aggies 15-3 and took a significant lead. Within the first five minutes of the game, 10 Aggies had already seen the court.
Sophomore forward Emanuel Miller leads the SEC in field goal percentage, averages 17 points a game and typically leads A&M offensively. However, the Bulldogs guarded Miller well and only allowed him to contribute three points the first half, one being a free throw. Mississippi State’s ability to keep Miller from getting to the rim resulted in offensive struggles for the Aggies.
A&M headed into the break trailing by 10, with a score of 33-23. The Aggies were out-performed in almost every aspect throughout the first half, including rebounds and field goal percentage. The Bulldogs made four of their nine attempted three-pointers despite a “cover two” defensive approach by A&M that forces the opponent to attempt shots from outside the arc.
The Aggies returned to the court with three quick consecutive baskets following the break. A&M heavily utilized its bench, which contributed 24 total points, and capitalized on the Bulldogs’ scoring drought which allowed the Aggies to gain control of the game’s tempo.
“Coach came to us [at halftime] and talked about rebounds and turnovers,” senior guard Jay Jay Chandler said. “They out-rebounded us in the first half by 10 and then we came out in the second half and out-rebounded them by 10 within the first 10 minutes.”
A&M looked much more aggressive and energized the second half and eventually took the lead, 53-52, with about two minutes left to play. The Aggies had not led since early in the first half.
A&M sophomore guard Andre Gordon put up 11 points, right behind Chandler with 12, but credited the offensive performance to the team’s defense.
“I think our defense sparks the offense almost every single game…” Gordon said.
“That just gets us more involved, especially when we’re all connected, we’re all moving together.”
With a one-point lead, A&M committed a shot clock violation, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs with 6.1 seconds left on the clock. The Aggies played one last defensive possession and did not allow Mississippi State to get to the basket, resulting in a 56-55 win for the Aggies.
Following the win, Williams told the team their success was a result of the qualities they exuded that couldn’t necessarily be measured by statistics.
“I think it was Albert Einstein that said, ‘Some things that you can count, don’t count, and some things you can’t count, count,’” Williams said. “Like I told our team after the game, the togetherness and the spirit and the communication in which we fought, the things that can’t be counted, that’s why we won.”
The maroon and white will be back home in Reed Arena on Saturday, Jan. 16 to host No. 17 Missouri at noon.

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