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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 pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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A&M prepares for cross-conference showdown

Texas A&M men’s basketball will face Oklahoma State on Saturday in the Big 12 vs. SEC showdown at Reed Arena.
In their last game, the Aggies (9-8, 3-3 SEC) came out with a 66-64 win at Missouri on Tuesday night. After trailing at halftime 32-27, the Aggies held the Tigers to 7-of-28 from the floor in the second half to hold a late lead. With A&M leading 63-62, Emanuel Miller hit two free throws late in the game to extend the Aggies lead to three before Missouri responded with free throws of their own. A buzzer-beating three-pointer by Missouri’s Torrence Watson missed the net as the Aggies escaped with a close victory.
Junior guard Savion Flagg said he credits the team’s ability to finish games for their improved success this season.
“I don’t think that last year we would have finished the game the right way,” Flagg said. “We were able to get a couple of turnovers at the end of the game. Being able to pass the test, [Coach Buzz Williams] really emphasized that in the huddle. We already have all the answers, we did the review, just make sure we pass the test.”
Against Missouri, Flagg and senior forward Josh Nebo led the offense in scoring for the Aggies with 14 points, followed by Emanuel Miller with 12 points. Jay Jay Chandler and Quenton Jackson were huge contributors off the bench, finishing with eight and six points respectively.
The Aggies continued their struggles from the free throw line against Missouri. While the Tigers finished shooting 25-of-26 from the line, the Aggies only managed to make 16 of their 26 free throw attempts, shooting 61 percent from the line. Over their last three games, the Aggies have made 59 of their 90 shots from the free throw line, good for a 65.6 free throw percentage.
Williams related the team’s struggles at the free throw line to a need for toughness.
“Tough guys make free throws, so the tougher you are, the more free throws you make,” Williams said. “Missouri made 31 free throws on the road in a row because those kids are tough. Then they made 25 [free throws] in a row against us, so we have to get tougher.”
Oklahoma State enters this matchup after dropping their last six contests, starting out 0-6 in conference play. In their last game against Iowa State, the Cowboys allowed Cyclones guard Solomon Young to score 27 points off of the bench, while being held to 42 percent from the floor and 67 percent from the free throw line.
An area the Aggies saw improvement against Missouri was in contesting shots from deep. After giving up 14 and 16 three-pointers from LSU and South Carolina respectively, they held the Tigers to 9-of-35, or 25.7 percent, from deep, including 4-of-21, or 19 percent, in the second half.
With a focus on forcing opponents to shoot from deep, grabbing defense rebounds is a key to success, said Williams.
“The stress in [the defensive] design is that if we force you to shoot three-pointers, it probably means you’re going to outnumber us on the weak side,” Williams said. “We didn’t contest near good enough against [the Gamecocks], and then against LSU and South Carolina, our defensive rebounding percentage was awful. Against Missouri, our contest number was up and our defensive rebound percentage was better.”
This matchup functions as the men’s team’s BTHO Breast Cancer game, a partnership between the men’s and women’s basketball teams and CHI St. Joseph’s Health in raising funds to help fight the disease that kills over 40,000 people a year, according to the CDC. There are many ways for fans to donate, including by purchasing a 2020 BTHO Breast Cancer t-shirt. All funds raised from the event will go to two breast cancer awareness organizations, the Pink Alliance and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
Williams said being able to support breast cancer awareness is important to him after witnessing his mom suffering from cancer when he was young.
“It probably means more to me than most,” Williams said. “One of the best players I ever coached, his mother passed away from breast cancer when we were recruiting him. Another really good player’s mother passed away when he was a freshman in college. Any way that we can bring awareness, any money we can give, any gear that we can wear to honor those [affected], i’m over-the-top supportive.”
Tip off between the Aggies and the Cowboys in the Big 12 vs. SEC challenge is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday at Reed Arena. The game will also be televised on ESPNU. To find out more about the BTHO Breast Cancer initiative, visit 12thman.com/BTHObc.

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