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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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A&M ends Auburn’s 28-game home winning streak

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“A” Nguyen

Senior G Tyrece Radford (23) looks the sideline after a playat Reed Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2023

The issue for Texas A&M under Buzz Williams has been losing streaks. In recent years, his teams at A&M have tended to spiral after losses. Currently, A&M finds itself facing adversity following its first conference loss at the hands of Kentucky on Saturday.
It didn’t get much easier for the Aggies with its next game being a trip to Auburn, Ala. to face off against the No. 15 Auburn Tigers.
Despite losing star players such as Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith Jr. to the NBA Draft, Auburn has still managed to have a successful season thus far. Much of its success comes from junior guard Wendell Green Jr. and sophomore forward Johni Broome. Broome has replaced Kessler as the Tigers’ deterrent in the paint, and averages 2.4 blocks per game.
The Tigers came into the game with a 16-3 record, while the Aggies were 13-6. Both teams had each lost one conference game. Auburn came into the matchup boasting the longest home winning streak in the country at 28 games. With those statistics in mind, the game would make for an important midseason test for A&M.
Early on, the Tigers dominated the game, riding its raucous crowd to an early 10-2 lead. Senior guard Tyrece Radford got the Aggies back on track with 5 quick points to cut the Tigers lead to 10-7. A pair of 3-pointers from sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV tied the game at 15.
Most of A&M’s early offense came from the perimeter, while most of Auburn’s came from inside the arc.
As the half progressed, A&M took the lead, but continued to become increasingly reliant on Taylor, Radford and graduate guard Dexter Dennis making difficult shots in isolation situations. While A&M’s lead grew to 32-25, the team was making these shots at a clip unlikely to continue for the rest of the game. A&M would need to find a way to implement easier shots on offense.
The game slowed down for both teams, but Radford’s stellar play continued to grow A&M’s lead. A particularly impressive reverse layup from Radford at the end of the half built A&M’s lead to 45-30. A&M ended the first half on a 40-20 run after trailing 10-2 at the start of the game.
The Aggies’ game plan was to double-team Green on the defensive end. This strategy seemed to stagnate Auburn’s offense and even led to turnovers A&M converted at the offensive end.
The maroon and white’s best player in the first half was Radford. Radford scored 16 points on 5-10 shooting. A&M also managed to convert six 3-pointers on 11 attempts.
In the second half, the Tigers switched to a matchup zone on defense (hybrid of a man and zone defense) to try to stifle the maroon and white’s offensive attack. For the most part, the new defense worked for Auburn, as A&M struggled to find consistent offense not generated by Radford.
The problem was the Tigers couldn’t find any consistent offense of their own. The Tigers were continuously forced to settle for difficult shots, and much of that can be attributed to the Aggies’ defense. Consistent pressure and effort from the maroon and white helped them maintain their lead.
Much of the second half was similar to a seesaw, with A&M answering each Auburn basket with one of its own. This led to A&M’s lead hovering from between 8 and 12 points. Importantly for the A&M, the game was being played at a slow pace, and thus made it difficult for Auburn to put together any sort of comeback.
Radford continued to put on a clinic and put the finishing touches on an impressive 79-63 win for the Aggies. In total, Radford finished with 30 points and nine rebounds. 11 of Radford’s points came from the charity stripe. Taylor chipped in an efficient 15 points of his own.
Auburn struggled mightily from beyond the arc, only converting three of its 16 attempts. A&M fared much better with seven 3-pointers, with much of it coming in the first half. 15 of 18 shooting from the free throw line helped offset A&M’s 2nd half struggles from the 3-point line.
All in all, Wednesday’s victory was an important victory for A&M over one of the best teams in its conference. Outside of a close first 10-12 minutes, A&M led comfortably for most of the game and ended the longest home winning streak in the country.
The maroon and white’s record now sits at 14-6 and 6-1 in conference play.
A&M coach Buzz Williams felt A&M responded in a positive way from its loss to Kentucky and grew as a team against Auburn.
“We felt as a staff, and even as a team, that the test tonight was going to be the same test that we got against Kentucky,” Williams said. “We put pressure on the rim on both sides of the ball. The real score would be determined by offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds, and I thought that there was a great symmetry and connectedness. I thought we took a step in a very positive way, relative to our maturity.”
Williams attributed A&M’s success at Auburn Arena to the players trusting each other and tuning out all of the outside noise.
“[Auburn’s] been ranked 31 weeks in a row,” Williams said. “They had the longest home court winning streak. I [told] our guys ,we have to only hear each other’s voices tonight. We cannot partake in the voices of anybody else, not the crowd, not the opponent, not the officials. We have to stay dialed in to our recipe and we all know that, and we can hold each other accountable tonight.”
Up next for the Aggies is a home matchup on Saturday, Jan. 28, against Vanderbilt. Tipoff at Reed Arena is set for 7:30 p.m.

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