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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 ‘white out’ Gators

“A” Nguyen

Graduate G Dexter Dennis (0) shoots a layup at Reed Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023.

12,126 fans filed into the seats at Reed Arena on Wednesday night to witness a landmark event for Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams and his Fightin’ Texas Aggies.
For the first time since the 2015-16 campaign, Williams coached the Aggies to their first 5-0 start to conference play and continue their seven-game win streak.
On Jan. 18, the A&M basketball program played its first mirror game of the season against a Florida team they defeated by 3 on the road in Gainesville, Fla. on Jan. 4. With the final result ending a little closer than the last.
As the season progressed, Williams continued to lean more toward his transfers to lead the maroon and white pack rather than the returners. With a chance to start 5-0 for the first time since his arrival, he continued to trust the two transfers who have grown tremendously since the Myrtle Beach Invitational. Junior forward Julius Marble said Williams sat down with every player 1-on-1 to discuss with them how they were performing so far into the season.
“He was honest with me, and I needed that,” Marble said.
In their last four games, two transfers have dominated both sides of the ball and have continued to add tremendous help to the maroon and white roster. Graduate guard Dexter Dennis has averaged 11.8 points, eight rebounds and 1.3 steals per game since the start of conference play while Marble has averaged 14.8 points, five rebounds and at least one block per game.
They surpassed both their averages by the end of the night.
To start the game, Marble posted up to his opposing defender, senior forward Colin Castleton, and finished the possession with a left-handed hook shot for the first lead and the first score of the night. No longer than two minutes later, Dennis finished a fast break with a one-handed slam that shook not only the rim but the entire arena.
When junior forward Henry Coleman III picked up a quick foul at the beginning of the game, a Mississippi State transfer came in to pick up a quick assist on a pass to senior guard Tyrece Radford. Despite not having the most beautiful stat line, junior forward Andersson Garcia has been one of Williams’ most valuable bench players this season as he has averaged 25 minutes per game since conference play and continued his usefulness for the “mirror game” against Florida.
Against a team who has averaged 74 points per game in its last three conference games, Williams’ Fightin’ Farmers held the Gators to just 12 points at the end of the first half and controlled the glass with 23 rebounds to their 18. Florida’s 12 first-half points are the fewest by an SEC opponent who has competed against the Aggies since they joined the conference in 2012.
Marble ended the first half as the Aggies’ leading scorer with 12 points on 66% shooting from the field. Dennis led the team with eight rebounds at the end of the first half and added 4 points to the total score.
“I thought we were good as we could possibly be defensively. We fouled too much,” Williams said. “To hold them to two baskets is really good.”
A series of unlucky circumstances occurred for the Aggies to begin the back half of the game.
Coleman started the half the same way he started the game, with a quick foul that brought his total to three, and a ticket for a first-class trip to the bench.
As far as scoring goes, an invisible lid seemed to be put on the rim anytime sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV took a shot. A&M’s leading scorer found himself shooting 1-9 halfway through the half and 2-15 at the end of the game.
The Gators would then go on a 10-2 run early in the half to cut the deficit from 11 to just 4.
In need of a spark, Williams’ called out to the two transfers who’ve made an impact on the game since the tip-off.
And they answered.
After only scoring 4 points in the first half, Dennis went on to score 7 more points and finish the night with 11 points and 16 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. The last time an Aggie recorded 16 rebounds was by Savion Flagg in 2018 against Savannah State.
Marble continued his scoring streak and finished the night with a career-high 19 points.
Despite Florida’s multiple attempts to come back, A&M stayed poised and in control and was able to force a bad 3-point attempt by the Gators in the end and secure the victory.
Dennis said he and the team will take in the current win streak, however, will be back on the grind tomorrow.
“It’s fun,” Dennis said. “For us, after the win, you celebrate but then it’s [on] to the next game. It’s short and sweet. It’s a constant grind.”
A&M will travel to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. in hopes of avenging last season’s home loss against the Kentucky Wildcats while keeping its win streak alive. Its sixth SEC matchup of the season will take place on Jan. 21 at 1 p.m.

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