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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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A&M falls short in SEC title game after shocking tournament run

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams yells out to his players during the Aggies’ game against the Gators on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

With eyes full of tears, Texas A&M walked off the court with their heads held up high.

It has been nothing short of a roller coaster season for the Aggies. 

Despite starting 4-0 in conference play, the Aggies fell into a slump for eight straight games. Loss after loss, the Aggies learned more about themselves every game. What looked to be an underwhelming season was suddenly flipped around. A&M finished with four-straight conference wins and headed to the SEC Tournament with high hopes.

The tournament consisted of a nail-biting overtime win over Florida, a shocking upset over No.1 seed Auburn and an 18-point win over Arkansas. Despite all odds, No. 8 A&M battled its way into the SEC title game.

On Sunday, March 13, the Aggies finished as the runner-up of the SEC Tournament, dropping a heartbreaker to Tennessee, 65-50.

Over the past four days, the Aggies have played four tiresome, aggressive games which taxed their bodies and minds.

​​“I wouldn’t say it was hard,” freshman guard Wade Taylor IV said. “Of course, it did a lot on our legs, but we prepared for that going back to when we first started in August.”

Playing one less game than the Aggies due to a second round bye, Tennessee came to play. The Volunteers made a statement with a 14-0 run to start. With shots going in and their defense halting the Aggies’ scoring efforts, the sea of orange and white in Amalie Arena loved every second of it.

On the other end, Aggie fans were filled with concern. In the first 10 minutes, the Aggies shot 2-for-4 from the field and 0-for-8 from behind the arc. However, the Aggies had knocked down too many obstacles at the SEC Tournament to stop just yet. With a calm composure, A&M responded with an 8-0 run and put points on the board by feeding sophomore forward Henry Coleman III in the paint.

The maroon and white left the half holding onto a single-digit, 29-20, deficit without sinking a single 3-pointer. The Aggies headed to the locker room, needing a response to the Volunteers’ game-controlling defense.

“They beat us from start to finish,” coach Buzz Williams said. “We had no answers for their tactical decisions nor their talent.”

Junior guard Tyrece “Boots” Radford hit the Aggies’ first 3-pointer of the game to add to their 7-0 run to start the half, but Tennessee commanded the momentum. The Volunteer’s No. 3 defense in the country and lights-out shooting increased their lead by 15, 46-31. 

Three-pointers from the Volunteers were fired off like bullets, sinking 43%. The Volunteers had three players score double-digits, and the Aggies had no answer. The Tennesee Volunteers were crowned the SEC Tournament champions for the first time since 1979.

However, A&M’s season may not be over yet.

The Aggies now wait to see if their red-hot performance throughout the tournament will land them one of 68 spots in the NCAA’s March Madness tournament. ESPN’s Selection Sunday at 5 p.m. will determine the Aggies’ fate.

“Playing in the greatest tournament in the country is something that every kid dreams of shooting in the driveway,” Coleman said. “It would be a blessing for us to be in that tournament, but even if we’re not, we’ll still handle it the right way.”

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said A&M deserves a spot in The Big Dance.

“Texas A&M should be in the tournament,” Barnes said.

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