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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 crash back to reality at Vanderbilt

Texas+A%26amp%3BM+coach+Buzz+Williams+yells+out+to+his+players+during+the+Aggies+game+against+the+Gators+on+Tuesday%2C+Feb.+15%2C+2022.
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Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams yells out to his players during the Aggies’ game against the Gators on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

In a season marred by close losses, the Aggies added another to the stack.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, Texas A&M men’s basketball traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to take on SEC-rival Vanderbilt. The matchup followed a 56-55 home victory over Florida that ended an eight-game losing streak which has haunted the Aggies throughout January and February.
From the opening tip, it was evident the attendees of Memorial Stadium were in for a slugfest, as the teams went blow-for-blow in the match’s early stages. The Commodores finally found separation when a layup from sophomore forward Terren Frank gave Vandy a 17-10 cushion. The Aggies swiftly rebutted with a layup from freshman guard Hayden Hefner and a deep ball from junior guard Andre Gordon, which brought the Aggies within one point.
With two minutes left in the first half, the Aggies held a slim 1-point lead. Back-to-back jumpers from junior guard Scotty Pippen Jr. lifted Vanderbilt to a 28-25 advantage. In the waning seconds of the half, sophomore guard Hassan Diarra drew a foul and knocked down both shots at the line to make the score 28-27 at the break.
The Commodores came out of the locker room on a tear, scoring nine-straight points to take a 37-27 lead.
Following the game, A&M coach Buzz Williams said his team allowed Vanderbilt to score too many unanswered points in the early stages of each half, an area that severely hurt the Aggies.
“We just had so many empty minutes that forced guys to do things that were a little too much at times,” Williams said.
After a media timeout, the Aggies began to find their footing, scoring three-straight jumpers to bring the score within four. The teams continued to trade blows until a cold-blooded 3-pointer from A&M graduate guard Quenton Jackson tied the score at 42.
With three minutes left on the clock, a free throw from Vanderbilt senior center Liam Robbins tangled the score at 61. After the squads traded layups, the Aggies took back the lead with a fading jumper from junior guard Tyrece Radford. Vandy responded with back-to-back jumpers to take a 70-67 lead with 26 seconds on the clock. The Aggies missed a 3-pointer, and successful free-throw attempts cemented the 72-67 final score.
Jackson, who was named a finalist for SEC Sixth Man of the Year, solidified himself as one of the most valuable bench players in the conference, leading the Aggies with 23 points.
Jackson said his performance was nothing unusual for the squad, emphasizing the importance of using his reputation as a scorer to create open looks.
“I think it’s just the way the game unfolded,” Jackson said. “I always try to be as aggressive as I can be, because it helps my teammates. When I drive, bigs have to step up and wings have to step off the corners, so it can open up shots for my teammates.”
The biggest spear in the side of the A&M defense was Pippen. The son of NBA Hall of Fame forward Scottie Pippen totalled 24 points on 50% shooting from the field and 77% from the charity stripe.
Williams complimented the multi-dimensional guard’s performance, adding that he tried multiple different looks to try to break the junior’s stride.
“[Pippen Jr.] is a really, really good player. He speeds the game up for his teammates and does a great job drawing fouls,” Williams said. “I thought we did a lot of different things to try to keep him out of synch, but he just plays with a great glide and a great pace that makes him difficult to defend.”
The loss moved the Aggies to 16-11 on the season and 5-9 in SEC play, while the Commodores improved to 14-12 and 6-8 in the SEC.
On Tuesday, Feb. 22, the Aggies will continue their SEC slate, hosting Georgia at Reed Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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