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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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Freshmen+Point+Guard%26%23160%3BTJ+Starks%26%23160%3Bgets+past+two+defenders+and+scores+a+layup.
Photo by Photo by: Kevin Chou

Freshmen Point Guard TJ Starkgets past two defenders and scores a layup.

The Texas A&M men’s basketball team (14-8, 3-6 SEC) put their two-game losing streak to a halt against Arkansas (15-7, 4-5 SEC), defeating the Razorbacks 80-66 on Tuesday night.

The Aggies got off to a fast start and tried to push the tempo following the opening tip off. However, that strategy proved unsuccessful as the Aggies committed seven turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game and the Razorbacks jumped out to an early 19-11 lead.

“They play such a different style, it takes a while to settle in on what they’re doing and I thought once we got past those first five or six minutes [we settled down],” head coach Billy Kennedy said.

A&M then slowed the tempo down and played more of their style game, getting Tyler Davis involved down low. Defensively, the Aggies played stout perimeter defense and contested nearly every three-point shot and the Razorbacks were just 2-of-9 from three in the first half. On the interior, Tyler Davis and Robert Williams were able to lock down the Arkansas big men, making them almost an afterthought for the Razorback offense.

“We’re a pretty good basketball team, but if we don’t get anything out of the forwards inside that puts a lot of pressure on the perimeter. They were able to concentrate on our perimeter guys,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said.

Once both teams settled in, the two teams exchanged blows offensively and the Aggies held a 33-32 lead at halftime. Admon Gilder led the game in scoring in the first half with 10 points.

The maroon and white came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, and netted seven three-pointers in the first five minutes of the half. D.J. Hogg contributed three of those 3-pointers after shooting 0-for-3 from three in the first half. The three-point specialist was able to get out of his three-game slump in which he made just 1-of-13 from three.

“They started falling. I just had to trust my shot, keep shooting and they started falling and my teammates kept finding me,” Hogg said. “It was like relaxation, a breath of fresh air, it’s a really good feeling. I’ve been struggling and been shooting bad.”

Hogg’s hot shooting was just a piece of the puzzle for the Aggies, who shot 60 percent (15-of-25) from the field and 58 percent from behind the arc (7-of-12) in the half.

The Aggies hot shooting initiated a 26-6 run to start the second half, and gave the Aggies a commanding 59-38 lead with 13:37 remaining.

“In the second half, we come out and turn the ball over a couple of times and before you know it, it’s like a snowball effect,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. “They start scoring on the other end too, and before you know it, a lead that was just one point goes up to double figures.”

The maroon and white’s possessions were extended due to total domination on the boards. The Aggies outrebounded the Razorbacks 45 to 30 thanks in large part to junior Tyler Davis who finished the game with 11 offensive rebounds.

The Aggies had seen little production out of Admon Gilder and Duane Wilson in the past few games due to lingering knee injuries, however, the only apparent sign that either of them were coping with injuries was the fact that freshman T.J. Starks got the start over Duane Wilson. Gilder and WIlson combined for 20 points and 5 assists.

Starks was impressive in his second career start and finished with a career-high 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. Additionally, Starks was key in orchestrating the Aggies offense and showed an increased level of comfort at the helm.

“It’s good to see he’s developing nicely,” Kennedy said. “He’s such a good scorer, he’s always been a scorer-first, it’s a transition for him to learn how to run an offense and get other guys shots.”

Strong guard play in tandem with big men dominating the glass enabled the Aggies to stave off any chance of a Razorback comeback, and A&M clinched a 80-66 win.

The Aggies showed great improvement from their rough outing against No. 7 Kansas and Kennedy thinks its a sign of development and the Aggies will play like this long-term.

“We’re getting better but there’s a lot of ways that we can improve. It’s going to come down to our guards, they have to be consistent in their play because our bigs are doing it on a regular basis,” Kennedy said.

A&M will return to action on Saturday as they host South Carolina. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with tipoff slated for 1:00 p.m.
 

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