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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M men’s basketball to face Vanderbilt in SEC Tournament opener

Photo by Abbey Santoro

Sophomore forward Emanuel Miller will lead the Aggies into the SEC Tournament after being named SEC player of the week. 

Texas A&M men’s basketball will enter the SEC Tournament as the No. 13 seed, facing No. 12 seed Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10.
After a month-long break from the hardwood due to COVID-19 followed by two hard-fought losses, A&M coach Buzz Williams said he was inspired by the Aggies’ effort and improvements.
“None of [our opponents] have been through what we went through in the month of February,” Williams said. “I think there’s a little bit of, it’s kind of liberating internally. You look at a lot of the teams across the country that have been through what we’ve been through, and you don’t see them coming out of the pause the same way we have. I think that speaks to the character of who our guys are.”
Sophomore forward Emanuel Miller was named the SEC Player of the Week after posting two consecutive 20-point double-doubles in the losses to Mississippi State and Arkansas. Miller also leads the SEC in field goal percentage and the 8-9 Aggies in scoring.
“Mentally, we’re the best we’ve ever been,” Miller said. “A lot of guys are watching extra film tapes. A lot of guys are getting extra shots up before practice and after practice. I think mentally, collectively, we are as together as we can be.”
Vanderbilt is led by Scottie Pippen Jr. who is second in the SEC in points per game, assists per game and steals per game. The Commodores, who are 8-15 and 3-13 in the SEC, have won half of their last four games.
“I think they have been playing the best that they have played all season,” Williams said. “Over the last two weeks, Vanderbilt, it has been their best two weeks of the season.”
A&M scored its most points against an SEC opponent this season in its last game against Arkansas, 12 more points than its second highest scoring game. Formerly a slow-paced team with a defensive emphasis, the break created changes in the Aggies’ scheme.
“I thought we played with great confidence offensively,” Williams said. “I think if the pace is a little faster, you’re scoring it more effectively and efficiently than you normally are, pace doesn’t become as important. That was the fastest game we had played all year long.”
Although seniors are allowed to take an extra year of NCAA eligibility due to the effect of COVID-19 on the season, a loss in the first round of the SEC Tournament would spell the end of A&M’s season. Sophomore guard Andre Gordon said A&M has little to lose as the underdog, which the team enjoys.
“We’re playing a lot more confident and comfortable since we’ve been back from the COVID-19 break,” Gordon said. “I think our seniors are getting more involved as the year comes to an end. Something is stirring up right now, and I think we’ve got some good things coming”
The winner of Wednesday’s matchup will advance in the tournament to take on No. 5 seed Florida on Thursday.

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