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

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M can’t defend the deep shot, falls to South Carolina

South Carolina matched its school record with 16 three-pointers as the Texas A&M men’s basketball team lost to the Gamecocks 81-67 at Reed Arena on Saturday.
Fresh off of a buzzer-beating win over No. 10 Kentucky, the Gamecocks (10-7, 2-2 SEC) entered this matchup as one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the SEC, only making 80 of their 281 attempted three-pointers for a shooting percentage of 28.5, with only the Aggies (8-8, 2-3 SEC) recording a worse three-point percentage on the season at 25.6 percent. South Carolina’s three-point performance helped them keep the lead for almost 36 minutes of the game.
Leading all scorers was South Carolina guard Jair Bolden, who finished with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds. Bolden, who did not play in their last game against Kentucky, was a big part of the Gamecocks three-point success, going 5-of-7 from deep, including two crucial three-pointers to retake the lead in the second half.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin praised Bolden’s poise and play after being forced to sit in their last game.
“I thought he needed to take a deep breath, take a step back and come at it better,” Martin said. “We don’t win without his efforts today. Not just [his] shot-making, but his playmaking against a team that’s difficult to play against because of [A&M’s] three-quarter press [defense] that doesn’t allow you to play in structure.”
South Carolina found early success from deep, with three-pointers by A.J. Lawson and Bolden helping the Gamecocks build an early 8-5 lead over the Aggies. With South Carolina taking a nine-point lead off of a three-pointer by Justin Minaya, the Aggies responded with a 7-2 scoring run to cut the Gamecocks lead to four. The Gamecocks finished the half on a 9-4 run, taking a 39-33 lead over the Aggies at the break. In the first half, South Carolina was 6-of-12 from deep, while the Aggies only scored on two of their eight attempts.
To start the second half, the Aggies were able to close in on the Gamecocks’ lead, using a 7-3 run to keep the lead within five. With South Carolina up 48-41 midway through the half, the Aggies rallied quickly to retake the lead, scoring eight unanswered points in just over a minute to grab a 49-48 lead with 11:50 left in the game. South Carolina mounted a fast response, as three consecutive trips down the floor resulted in three-point baskets to put South Carolina back in front.
The Gamecocks continued to drain the longball, as every possible opportunity for an A&M scoring run was interrupted by a South Carolina three-pointer. Building a 78-63 lead after consecutive three-pointers by Lawson, South Carolina dominated in the second half en route to a 81-67 final score. They finished with 10 makes from behind the arc in the second half, including nine after A&M recaptured the lead.
A&M coach Buzz Williams said the team needs to prioritize being able to contest three-pointers with how the team plays defense.
“Entering today we had the second-best defense in SEC games all the way,” Williams said. “A lot of that is because we’ve forced teams to shoot more threes than anybody else. But you have to know, if that’s what the design is, you have to contest at a much higher rate then we have this week; you have to finish the possession with the rebound. Both games this week, we did not contest near hard enough or at a high enough percentage nor did we finish those possessions, whether it was contested or not.”
For the second consecutive game, Josh Nebo led all Aggies in scoring with 18 points, including going 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Andre Gordon finished with 10 points, while Quenton Jackson recorded 12 points coming off the bench. Emanuel Miller led all Aggies in rebounding with nine boards and added nine points.
On offense, the Aggies spent most of the game attempting shots from the free throw line, attempting a season-high 41 free throw shots.
Similarly to their contest Tuesday night against LSU, A&M struggled on the glass against South Carolina, getting outrebounded 38-27, including a 23-7 advantage in the second half. On the defensive end, the Aggies struggled to rebound for most of the game, allowing the Gamecocks to record 14 offensive rebounds, including five on one possession.
After the two game homestand, the Aggies travel back on the road, facing off against Mizzouri on Tuesday at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. Tip off is scheduled at 8 p.m., with the game being televised on ESPNU.

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