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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 lose in dogfight

The+Aggies+and+Gators+reach+for+the+ball+at+Reed+Arena+on+Wednesday%2C+Jan.+18%2C+2023.+%28Ishika+Samant%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Ishika Samant

The Aggies and Gators reach for the ball at Reed Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

Win-streak has come to an end but the journey to the Big Dance lives on.
On Jan. 21, Texas A&M traveled to Lexington, Ky. to compete against John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena and fell short 76-67.
The Aggies haven’t found a win in Rupp Arena since their first SEC matchup after joining the SEC in 2013. In that matchup, Elston Turner became the third opponent ever to score 40 points inside Rupp Arena and carried the Aggies to an 83-71 win.
After two minutes of scoreless basketball, graduate guard Dexter Dennis stole a bad pass from freshman guard Cason Wallace and finished the defensive turnover with a fast-break layup to get the Aggies on the board first.
Unfortunately for the Fightin’ Farmers, senior guard Tyrece Radford would get into foul trouble just four minutes into the game after a personal foul and a quick offensive foul a couple of possessions afterward. Senior guard Andre Gordon received the call off the bench and cashed in a corner three off an assist from sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV, the first offensive possession on the floor.
One thing you can not allow against Calipari’s Wildcats is to let senior guard Sahvir Wheeler get his teammates open, as he averages more than six assists a game. Two straight possessions in a row, the four-star prospect found freshman forward Chris Livingston in the corner for a quick six points that led to Kentucky’s largest lead of the game at 21-15.
After Junior forward Julius Marble forced returning 2022 Naismith’s College Player of the Year winner, senior forward Oscar Tshiebwe’s, second foul in the paint, A&M coach Buzz Williams called a timeout to figure out a way to minimize the open looks and strategize a plan for backside help on the defensive end.
The timeout worked in favor of A&M as the Aggies came out of the break with two steals and a shot clock violation that led to a 6-0 run. After a made jumper from senior forward Jacob Toppin, who scored nine points in the first half, the Aggies continued to create bad shots, push the ball up the court on fast breaks and rally together six more points, all coming from Marble.
Kentucky would respond with a 6-0 run of their own to regain the momentum and tie the game back up at 29 after consecutive turnovers by A&M on the offensive end. However, Radford was able to force a shooting foul and tally two free throws to gain a two-point lead entering halftime.
At the end of the first half, junior forward Henry Coleman III and Marble lead the team with eight points each and seven rebounds split among the two big men. Kentucky’s senior guard Antonio Reeves has been automatic from 3-point land as he has accumulated 9 points off 50% shooting and a quick lay-up in the maroon and white paint.
In order for the Aggies to come out victorious, Williams must think of a way to decrease the number of open looks they have given the Wildcats and force Calipari to keep Tshiebwe in foul trouble and on the bench.
Tension rose between the two SEC opponents following the halftime break after a scuffle that lasted the length of the court.
After catching a hand to the face at halfcourt, Marble caught a Flagrant 1 foul early in the second half after he shoved Tshiebwe, who was given the same penalty, following a shot attempt. This was the second scuffle between the two teams following an argument between Livingston and Dennis after a battle for a rebound in the first half.
This commotion put both Marble and Tshiebwe in foul trouble.
Radford, however, came out even hotter than the tension.
After a jumper at the 17-mark of the second half, the Baton Rouge native would go on to score nine straight points that included three lay-ups and a bank shot deep near the Rupp Arena logo. With being on the sideline for the majority of the first half due to foul trouble, Radford kept the Aggies alive halfway through the second.
Many could compare Marble to that of a professional boxer by the way he was taking hits to the face all game long. After a missed shot attempt from the Michigan State transfer, Marble ran into Dennis in order to retrieve a rebound and caught an elbow to the head.
With Marble in the locker room due to concussion protocol, Kentucky took advantage of the mismatch. Tschiebwe immediately got an and-1 finish that led to a 7-0 run by the Wildcats.
Junior forward Andersson Garcia would join Coleman and Marble in foul trouble and before it was over it was too late for the Aggies. Marble would return to the game and would foul Toppin hard enough to send him to the locker room for a few minutes and force Tshiebwe to use up his fourth personal foul that put him on the bench only for seconds.
With 1:47 remaining in the game, the Aggies would cut the deficit to four but Kentucky continued to be automatic from the field with a floater from Reeves and a jump shot from redshirt senior guard CJ Fredrick that erupted Rupp Arena and put the game away for good.
Radford finished the game with 22 points, 20 of them coming from the second half, four rebounds and an assist. Coleman, Dennis and Taylor split 18 rebounds evenly and had a combined 28 points.
The Aggies will continue this road journey to Auburn Arena to face No. 16 ranked Auburn on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m.

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