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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 rises to the occasion against Florida Gulf Coast

Sophomore+Tonny+Trocha-Morelos+is+averaging+11+points+and+4.9+rebounds+per+game+so+far+this+season
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Sophomore Tonny Trocha-Morelos is averaging 11 points and 4.9 rebounds per game so far this season

Garnering its highest ranking since 2011, the No. 18 A&M basketball team returned to action Wednesday, looking to avoid jet lag after an impressive statement week in the Bahamas.

The Aggies did just that as they finished off a 75-65 win over a feisty Florida Gulf Coast at home on Wednesday night in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. On an evening where the offensive shooting looked to be a bit off, the defense stepped up and quelled any potential for an upset bid.

“[I’m] happy we won. I knew it was going to be a struggle … coming off that trip and being ranked, I was concerned with us being tuned in with everything we need to be,” A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “We did not play as well as we can … I thought we did some good things, but we could not sustain it.”

FGCU (4-4) was led by Christian Terrell and Zach Johnson, who led the team with 14 points and 13 points respectively. The Eagles came out with a 2-0 lead after the first basket, but the Aggies asserted themselves and took control of the game for much of the play. 

The Aggies (7-1) struggled early on, but found their rhythm as the first half progressed. Senior guard Jalen Jones put in 19 of his 22 points in the first period, and helped the Aggies bolster a 15 point lead in the opening half of play. By the break, A&M led 39-29.

“I think my teammates just found me in the right spots,” Jones said. “I got into a flow and just kept rolling with it.”

Defensively, the Aggies were quick-handed and forced 21 FGCU turnovers, 12 of them steals, and it was the most turnovers the team has had in the three years under head coach Joe Dooley. The turnovers transitioned into points, and the Aggies outscored the Eagles 21 to 5 from points off of turnovers.

“[Coach Kennedy] just told us to put pressure on the ball,” Senior guard Anthony Collins said. “We stuck to our principles, executed the gameplan, and the turnovers just happened.”

A&M’s typical high-scoring offense, which averages 83 points per game, struggled. That was especially evident from three-point range, where the Aggies shot just 18 percent (3-for-17), including going 0-for-6 in the second period of action.

Collins showed, once again, that he is the commander of the offense. While he only attributed 4 points, he dished out 9 assists and made plays all night.

The gritty Eagles kept themselves within striking distance in the second half, hitting on a few three-pointers to cut A&M’s lead to nine on a few occasions, but that was the closest the Eagles came to the Aggie advantage. 

“Being a ranked team, expectations are higher for you,” Jones said. “People expect you to blow out unranked teams, but sometimes you have to tough out a victory, and that is what we did tonight.”

The Aggies will be back in action on Saturday as they head to Tempe, Arizona, to take on Arizona State. 

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