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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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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The Battalion May 4, 2024

A&M holds on down the stretch for 8th SEC win

Valentine’s Day celebrations started early for the Texas A&M men’s basketball team.
Led by Kourtney Roberson, Jalen Jones and Danuel House, who totaled 20, 16 and 14 points, respectively, A&M won its eighth SEC game Saturday and avoided a second consecutive loss with a 63-62 victory over University of Florida.
Texas A&M forward Jalen Jones acknowledged the significance of the victory, which also prevented the Aggies from losing three of their last four Southeastern conference games.
“It was very important,” he said. “We took a tough loss against Georgia and we knew that we needed to come out and get this victory against Florida. They came out battling, we didn’t take them lightly. We know they are a very talented team and what they did last year, and even though they don’t have the same team as this year, but we just took it at them and came out with a victory today.”
Florida, despite its full court pressure defense, which produced six blocks and five steals in the game, struggled early to score the basketball and had field goal percentage that surfed below the 30-percent margin with seven minutes left in the first half.
A&M, though, controlled the tempo, found timely buckets and appeared to be heading into the break with a comfortable nine-point lead after Kourtney Roberson rolled to the basket, allowing a double teamed Alex Caruso to slip him a pass for an uncontested slam dunk with 26 seconds remaining.
But the Gators scrapped together five points in the last four seconds of first half play on the heroics of guard Eli Carter. Carter drained a three pointer from the top of the key and then lobbed teammate Dorian Finney Smith an alley-oop off of an inbounds play following a Roberson turnover with one second remaining, slashing the Aggie lead to four points, 32-28, at the break.
Texas A&M showed no signs of being phased. With 16:34 remaining, Alex Caruso intercepted an ill-advised Florida cross court pass and took it to the house with a crowd-electrifying tomahawk dunk.
And speaking of “House,” Texas A&M’s Danuel House would get in on the action on the ensuing possession when Caruso found him streaking down the court on a fast break for a tomahawk dunk of his own, bringing all 9,418 fans in attendance at Reed Arena to their feet. A&M led 41-33 with 15:57 remaining.
The Gator’s Carter, though, continued his stone cold shooting performance deep into the second half and kept the Gators close all the way to the wire. With 6:28 remaining, Carter dropped his fourth three-point shot of the night, and then with 2:23 remaining, sank a contested fadeaway jumper near the baseline to bring the Gators to within one, 61-60. Carter finished with 22 points
Florida briefly took a 62-61 lead, but Jalen Jones quickly recaptured the lead with two converted free throws after drawing a foul on a shot attempt inside the paint.
House then had an opportunity to seal the Aggie victory with under 10 seconds remaining, but his three-point attempt from the right side of the floor erred long. The Gators recovered the rebound, immediately called timeout and realized an opportunity to snag victory from the jaws of defeat.
A&M Head coach Billy Kennedy and Florida head coach Billy Donovan then engaged in a chess match of their own, exchanging timeouts and strategizing as to how their respective teams should conduct the final 5.3 seconds of play, which only intensified the anxiety of an A&M crowd fretting another deflating loss for their team.
The Gators inbounded the ball and moved it to Dorian Finney-Smith at the top of the key. Smith then found Alex Murphy in the corner by the Florida bench and with a clear look at a game winning three, but, it was no good. Time expired, Texas A&M rediscovered the win column and the A&M fan base rejoiced in pre-Valentine’s Day festivities to the tune of the Aggie War Hymn.
Texas A&M men’s basketball head coach Billy Kennedy breathed a sigh of relief following Saturday night’s game. He said he hopes the victory will allow his squad to collect itself as it prepares for the final stretch of SEC play.
“Hopefully it takes some pressure off of us,” he said. “Because we’ve been playing so well and then our guys, here, you’ve got three home games in a row, three home games in a row, but, you know, it’s only one game. And it’s hard to really focus on one game sometimes and I think our guys put a lot of pressure on themselves. Hopefully, this is relief, I’ve been on them, ‘Hey, enjoy the journey, have fun, relax just play.’”
Texas A&M hits the court at 8 p.m. Tuesday night versus LSU, which is just one game behind A&M in the standings.

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