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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies outraced by Memphis in 83-79 loss

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Photo by Robert O’Brien

Senior G Tyrece Radford (23) talks with a teammate before the start of Texas A&M’s game against SMU at Reed Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.

The Texas A&M men’s basketball team entered its matchup with Memphis on Saturday, Dec. 17, with hopes of securing a treasured Quad 1 victory against the best opponent on its nonconference slate. Such a win would be pivotal to the Aggies’ NCAA Tournament resume as they make a push to the Big Dance after being left out last season.
Last year, a weak nonconference schedule was a likely culprit of A&M’s Tournament bid, leading coach Buzz Williams to piece together a more rigorous group of games for his squad this time around. After dropping contests to Murray State, Colorado and Boise State, a win over the Tigers, at No. 40 in the Net Rankings, was all the more important.
But despite their efforts to scratch and claw their way back into the game, the Aggies couldn’t overcome the hump as they fell to the Tigers, 83-79, at a rocking FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. The visitors trailed for the vast majority of the matchup, at times by double digits, but still made it a competitive match in which they fought until the final buzzer.
Sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV continued his reign as the team’s leading scorer this season, tallying a career-high 25 points while connecting on four of 11 3-point attempts and nine of 10 free throws. Junior forward Julius Marble had 16 points with perfect shooting on six field goal attempts and senior guard Tyrece Radford scored eight points with a team-high ten rebounds.
The maroon and white carried a slight lead for 7 and a half minutes before the Tigers grabbed the advantage and sustained it until the Aggies climbed back and went on top by a point with 3:20 left. It didn’t take long for Memphis to respond, though, regaining the lead and carrying it for the remainder of the game.
The Tigers went on a 22-6 run within 7 minutes in the first half, leaning on the scoring efforts of fifth year guard and 2021 AAC Player of the Year Kendric Davis and fifth year forward DeAndre Williams. The native Texans finished with 23 and 15 points, respectively. Davis also added three steals and nine assists while nailing 14 free throws.
“I thought in the first half, [Memphis was] way tougher than we were,” Williams said. “I thought that we were not playing with the edge that you have to play with against a really good team with a really good coach in an incredible environment.”
Memphis entered the break with a 45-36 lead, although the Ags trimmed it to just three points 7 minutes into the second half. From there, the contest remained neck-and-neck, as each A&M bucket was responded to with a score by the Tigers. Neither team could build up much momentum, nor much of a lead.
After Memphis built up a six-point lead with 45 seconds remaining, the Aggies were aided by a shooting foul and a subsequent technical foul by the Tigers. A&M hit three of four shots from the charity stripe to make it a one possession game before Davis missed a jumper on the other end of the court. However, fifth year guard Elijah McCadden was in the right place at the right time, grabbing the offensive rebound and making a dagger layup to put his team up by five with 13 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
“I have to do a better job of making sure that they understand that that’s what’s required when you play on the road … when you play really good players with really good coaches,” Williams said. “When we do that, I think we’ll be really good, and when we don’t do that, I think we’ll continue to get this same sort of test.”
Despite the loss, the Aggies exhibited a strong presence on the glass, picking up 37 rebounds compared to Memphis’ 26, plus 15 offensive boards as opposed to the Tigers’ six. A&M turned those rebounds into 18 second-chance points.
However, the game was also characterized by poor passing and turnovers by the Aggies, as well as poor shooting in the paint. The team made just 12 of 27 layup attempts while amassing 17 turnovers as Memphis’ full-court press gave A&M fits for much of the night.
The matchup also continued a trend of the team putting together superior second halves after subpar first half performances. In their 72-54 win over Oregon State on Dec. 11, the Aggies trailed by four at halftime before out-scoring the Beavers 46-24 in the second half. Likewise, A&M out-scored the Tigers 43-38 in the final 20 minutes on Saturday.
“I have zero problems with the grit, the fight, the togetherness, the being on the same page, the edge we played with in the second half,” Williams said. “We’ll be fine. It was the first [half]. You can’t go into this environment against this talent, against this staff, and think one half would be enough.”
With that being said, while the Aggies will return to College Station with a loss, they showed that they can hang with some of the nation’s premier teams, who they are sure to face once SEC play begins. For now, the focus turns to rounding out nonconference action against Wofford, Northwestern State and Prairie View A&M, as A&M hopes to begin the second half of its season with a 9-4 mark.
Tipoff against the Terriers is set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at Reed Arena. At 7-5, Wofford has already given SEC teams trouble this year, falling to LSU and Vanderbilt by just three points each.

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