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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M men’s basketball closes regular season with pair of losses

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Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

Quenton Jackson led the Aggies with 23 points in the regular season finale against Arkansas.

Texas A&M men’s basketball lost 87-80 in a back-and-forth contest against No. 12 Arkansas in Fayetteville on Saturday.
In the final game of the regular season, A&M grabbed an early 14-point lead by sinking seven threes, one more than the team’s season average, in just 13 minutes. While A&M has played a slower brand of basketball this season, the Aggies played at a faster tempo with new schemes that helped carry a three-point lead into halftime.
“I think on Wednesday against Mississippi State we were better than we were on Jan. 30 against [Kansas] State,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “Our style of play is completely brand new. Our first rep of that style was against Mississippi State. We were better today than we were on Wednesday.”
The first half shooting effort was led by senior guard Quenton Jackson who was 2-of-4 from three for 14 points in the first half and ended the game with 23 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep.
“Every time you shoot the ball, you expect to make it,” Jackson said. “I come out with the highest confidence in myself and my teammates. That’s the energy we came out with today.”
A&M averages 29.2 percent from beyond the arc on the season, but on the night the team shot 10-of-23 for 43.5 percent while also shooting 50.8 percent from the field. Sophomore forward Emanuel Miller joined Jackson’s high scoring night with 23 of his own points. With 10 rebounds, Miller posted his fifth double-double of the season.
“I think our guys are playing with a level of confidence and are almost liberated after what they’ve been through,” Williams said. “Like, ‘Man, we’re just thankful we’re getting to play and let’s play for one another.’ We had 14 assists, that tells you that our guys are playing for one another.”
A&M began to struggle in the second half, turning the ball over 11 times to total 17 turnovers. Playing with new schemes, Williams said the turnovers hurt the Aggies the most.
“We thought we were going to play Alabama, I think it would have been the third Wednesday of February,” Williams said. “We were going to play with six players, and so we were trying to figure out a way, defensively, how can we play 200 minutes with six players. On Monday, March 1, we just kind of kept going. Everything we’re doing is brand new defensively … The thing that hurt us today, from a margin standpoint, was we just had too many turnovers.”
A&M played a cover-two defense prior to the month of postponements, however Williams said the team has not run a single possession of the scheme since its return.
Senior guard Savion Flagg joined Miller and Jackson with double-digit points on the night, scoring 16 on 2-of-5 shooting from deep while grabbing five rebounds.
“It’s real fun,” Flagg said. “Playing against a top-20 team, you get up by 11 points, all the shots are falling. It’s really fun to go out there and just compete at a high level.”
Since the return, Williams said the team has maintained a complete desire to continue playing despite lackluster results.
“I just respect their guts,” Williams said. “I think with all that has happened, it’s much easier to go, ‘Hey, we’ll try it again next year.’ What’s hard to articulate is what has happened over the last 11 months and three weeks and how that changes your emotional level.”
After the loss, A&M will take either the 12th or 13th seed into the SEC Tournament in Nashville on Wednesday, March 10 though its opponent has not yet been decided. Williams said the game served as a moral win due to the team’s journey.
“I think there’s many different ways to win that are not necessarily on a jumbotron,” Williams said. “I think when [the players] are 40, they’ll look back on their 20th year and realize that the lessons they have learned, throughout all of this, will change their life as people. It will change their life as men, as husbands, as fathers. To me, that is some category of winning.”

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