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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M mauls No. 20 Missouri

Junior+F+Henry+Coleman+III+%2815%29+jumps+to+dunk+on+SMU+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+SMU+at+Reed+Arena+on+Wednesday%2C+Nov.+30%2C+2022.
Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior F Henry Coleman III (15) jumps to dunk on SMU during Texas A&M’s game against SMU at Reed Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.

Texas A&M men’s basketball entered Wednesday’s game on Jan. 14 against No. 20 Missouri riding a four-game winning streak since its shocking home loss to Wofford. A&M’s strong play couldn’t have come at a better time with the start of its conference schedule underway. Thus far, A&M had defeated LSU and Florida, but Wednesday’s game against Missouri would be yet another test of A&M’s perfect conference record.
The Tigers also came into the game in strong form with a 13-2 record. Both of their losses came against strong programs in No. 6 Kansas and No. 13 Arkansas.
To start off the game, both teams struggled offensively but A&M quickly took hold of the lead behind great execution on the defensive end. It seemed like the Aggies’ strategy was to wall off the paint and force Missouri to make shots from the perimeter. Missouri couldn’t seem to find a way to solve A&M’s defense as the half wore on. The maroon and white were more efficient on the offensive end, with the team quickly building its lead to double digits.
At halftime, A&M led 43-25 over Missouri. For the Aggies, junior guard Hayden Hefner led the way with 12 points off the bench while senior guard Tyrece Radford chipped in 12 points of his own. A&M shot over 40% from both the field and deep. The same couldn’t be said for Missouri. While the Tigers were efficient inside the arc, its inability to convert from beyond it led to a halftime score lead for A&M. To get back into the game, Missouri would have to improve from its 10% 3-point percentage in the first half.
In the second half, the Aggies came out struggling. Much of this was due to its struggles with on-ball pressure from Missouri. Missouri clawed its way back into the game by taking advantage of turnovers by A&M.
The Tigers continued to take advantage of lackluster play from the Aggies and managed to get within 4 points of taking the lead with around seven minutes left in the game.
However, the issue with the Tigers’ strategy was their on-ball pressure, which led to a lot of fouls. What saved the Aggies was getting into the bonus and converting free throws to build their lead back up. Free throws alongside timely 3-pointers from sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV helped the Aggies get its lead back to over 10 points with 6 minutes left in the game.
For the rest of the game, it was smoothing sailing for the Aggies and they ended up winning 82-64. With six players in double figures, there wasn’t a standout player on offense, but Radford did lead the way with sixteen points. Arguably the most valuable player for the Aggies was Taylor. His timely 3-pointers saved the Aggies from what could have been a close game with the Tigers. It also helped that the maroon and white converted 24 of 32 free throws.
For the Tigers, senior guard Kobe Brown was their highest scorer with 12 points and shot an efficient 50% from the field. The death knell for the Tigers was shooting 7-31 from the three point line and committing 29 personal fouls.
For A&M to continue to be successful in the SEC, it will have to do a better job of taking care of the ball than its 18 turnovers against Missouri .
A&M head coach Buzz Williams attributed the team’s issues to playing one of the best defenses in the conference.
“[Missouri is] number one at creating live ball turnovers,” Williams said. “A portion of that is the aggressiveness that they play with on the ball, but I also think every defense that you’ve seen a team play, they’ve played it. It is such a unique prep because you have to figure out how you’re going to slow them down, but then offensively because they do such a variety of things in the full-court and half-court you have to have a distinct plan. I’m not saying they weren’t doing those things in the first half, we were just doing a better job of handling [the pressure].”
Radford was pleased with A&M’s performance, but mentioned the team needs to do a better job of playing a complete game.
“I feel like we played well,” Radford said. “We just have to come out better in the second half than we did [tonight]. We were [stuck in the mud] and allowed [Missouri] to do what they wanted. Other than that I think it was a pretty good game.”
Up next for the Aggies is a road matchup on Saturday, Jan. 14, against South Carolina at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. First tip is set for 5 p.m.

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