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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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (53) reacts after throwing the final strike out during Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Olsen Field. (Chris Swann/ The Battalion)
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Texas A&M infielder Rylen Wiggins (2) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Texas at the Austin Super Regional at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M needs strong showing to hold out for NCAA tourney

Tim Lai — THE BATTALION
Junior guard Alex Caruso said he is healthy now after playing sick against Alabama.
Tim Lai — THE BATTALION Junior guard Alex Caruso said he is healthy now after playing sick against Alabama.

Texas A&M men’s basketball achieved at least one of its goals: finish in the top four of the SEC.
However, the Aggies were in a four-way tie for third and drew the short end of the stick as a 5-seed in the SEC Tournament, which begins for A&M Thursday.
After losing three of its last four games, the A&M men’s basketball team could be left in the cold after NCAA Tournament selections if it can’t make a showing in the SEC Tournament.
“We’ve got to win games,” head coach Billy Kennedy said. “We definitely have to win the first one. If we win both games I’d think we definitely have a chance to get in.”
The regular season-ending defeat to Alabama came without the presence of Danuel House, who was taken out late in the Florida game after spraining his foot. House leads the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game, and is doubtful in A&M’s first game.
“I think it will be a stretch,” Kennedy said. “We’re hoping for it. But it would be a quick recovery at this point. He’s progressed along and we’ve gotten good news that he’s getting better. But he’s not able to put a lot of pressure on that foot.”Kennedy admitted earlier in the week that the Aggies dealt with more problems than just House’s leave. Alex Caruso reportedly played against the Crimson Tide with strep throat, while Peyton Allen competed with an infected colon, spending a couple days in the hospital following his absence in the Florida game earlier in the week.
Caruso said he’s back to his old form.
“I feel good. I feel better. I’m rejuvenated. I have energy. I’m ready to go,” Caruso said. “[Illness] hurts a player like me because I’m a guy that needs a lot of energy. I’m running around, I’m diving on the floor. I’m yelling, I’m screaming. I couldn’t do some of those things, but I’m better now. I’m ready to go.”
The Aggies are in desperation mode. In Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology, A&M fell out of the dance and into his “First Four Out” after losing consecutive games. Conference foes LSU and Ole Miss shifted right past them.
If the Aggies were to find a win over Auburn, their next opponent would be LSU, who A&M beat twice in the regular season. In all likelihood, a loss to the Tigers would cut the Aggie season short, but a win could be enough to lift them over the edge. A&M’s only two RPI top 50 wins were over LSU.
After LSU, A&M would most likely face top-ranked Kentucky. On Jan. 10, the Aggies met the undefeated ball club, and battled them into double overtime, but fell short 70-64.
But the Aggies must take it one at a time. Up first is Auburn at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Auburn lost twice to A&M in the regular season, 71-61 on Jan. 27 and 80-55 on Feb. 28. However, the second loss occurred after the Tigers’ Antoine Mason departed the team due to his father’s death. Mason, who is second in scoring, will play Thursday.
Coming into the tournament, the Tigers lost six straight, including three blowouts of over 20 points. This pitfall resulted in Auburn’s second to last finish in the conference. K.T. Harrell leads the charge, averaging over 18 points a game while shooting over 80 percent from the free throw line.
A win would put the Aggies in the quarterfinals against 4-seed LSU, which would be played at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

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