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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Aggies, Horns to play an exhibition game, raise money for Harvey relief

Photo by File

Texas A&M will play Texas in an exhibition game in Houston Wednesday night to raise money for Rebuild Texas.

After a two-year hiatus, the A&M Texas men’s basketball rivalry will be revived at Wednesday’s charity exhibition game at Rice University’s Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston at 7 p.m.
All proceeds will go to Rebuild Texas, an organization founded in September by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to help in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
“I saw that Kansas was playing Missouri and someone mentioned to me, ‘Y’all should play Texas’ and I said I’ll try to call [Texas head coach Shaka Smart]. So, I called and he said would be interested in helping the Harvey situation. Neither of us are ready to play a game, but we thought it would be a way to help,” A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said at a press conference Tuesday.
John Sharp, Texas A&M University System chancellor, is the Commissioner of Rebuild Texas and said he is proud the famous rivalry will be used to help victims in a time of need.
“I have witnessed the great needs in the communities struck by Hurricane Harvey. I am proud that the A&M–UT rivalry can be employed to help our fellow Texans through Gov. Abbott’s relief fund,” Sharp said in a statement last week.
The teams last met in 2015 at the Battle 4 Atlantis non-conference tournament in which A&M won 84-73. Prior to that, the teams had not played since A&M left the Big 12 in 2012.
The two teams will come into the season unranked, but both rosters are filled with young talent and are primed for potential runs at the NCAA tournament.
The Aggies enter the year with two players on the Preseason All-SEC teams — forward Robert Williams and center Tyler Davis. The two have earned First and Second Team recognitions, respectively.
Texas comes into the season with high hopes for five-star freshman forward Mohamed Bamba, who was recognized as the Preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year. The Longhorns also return with Tevin Mack, averaging 14.8 points per game last season, and Jarrett Allen, averaging 13.4 points per game.
Kennedy said he recognizes the immense talent Texas brings into the contest.
“Both of us have pretty good front lines, they just signed one of the best big guys in the country [Bamba] that’ll be a freshman and is projected as a lottery pick,” Kennedy said.
The two teams have had just over two weeks to prepare for the game, as the “in-season” designation, allowing the teams to practice for a maximum of 20 hours a week, took effect on Oct. 13. Before then, no NCAA team was allowed to practice for more than eight hours a week. Despite the short timeframe, Kennedy said he knows the Longhorns will come prepared.
“Shaka does a really good job of preparing his teams, and they’ll be prepared as a team can be in two weeks [of practices],” Kennedy said.
Kennedy also said he is going to give some younger guys minutes to get a feel for where they are at.
“At this point in the year, you don’t want to put a whole lot of emphasis on just playing your best players,” Kennedy said. “You want to develop your bench players and get to know what these young guys can do.”
That said, Kennedy said if the score is close late in the game, they are going for the win.
“It’s a big game,” Kennedy said. “We try to win every time we step out on the floor, but it will be different than how we play West Virginia [next game] because we’ve got to learn some things about our guys. Some guys are better in games than practices.”
This matchup may be a foreshadow of things to come, as Kennedy said he and Smart have discussed the possibility of bringing the rivalry back to the hardwood on an annual basis.
“Eventually, I would love to play a home-and-home against Texas,” Kennedy said. “I think it would be good for basketball in this state, both universities and both programs.”
According to Kennedy, Smart has echoed his thoughts on renewing the rivalry.
“It’s got to be two parties [to make the game happen], but I know that Shaka’s interested,” Kennedy said.
As for how quickly this could come to fruition, Kennedy thinks it will come sooner rather than later.
“We’ve talked about playing a neutral game maybe one year and starting a home-and-home later,” Kennedy said.
Despite both coaches’ interest, nothing has been decided yet.
Though the renewal of the rivalry could be on the horizon, Kennedy said he is excited for Wednesday’s game.
“We open up against West Virginia, so to open up against Texas, who had a top five recruiting class last year, we’ll learn something early and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Kennedy said.
The limited number of free student tickets have already been given out, but Kennedy still encourages everyone to go to the game to raise the most money possible for relief efforts.
“If you’re a fan, an Aggie, you’ll be there,” Kennedy said.

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