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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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‘They don’t flinch’

A&M squeaks past Missouri despite poor shooting performance
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  • Texas A&M starting five during Texas A&M’s game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M guard Tyrece Radford (23) walks out during Texas A&M’s game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Junior G Wade Taylor (4) reacts after a made 3-pointer during A&M’s game against Missouri at Reed Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

  • Sophomore F Solomon Washington (13) reacts after finishing an and-1 during A&M’s game against Missouri at Reed Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

  • Head Coach Buzz Williams gets into a defensive stance during A&M’s game against Missouri at Reed Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

  • Senior F Henry Coleman III (15) defends Missouri F Noah Carter (32) during A&M’s game against Missouri at Reed Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M forward Henry Coleman III (15) shoots the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Fans hold up a triangle during a free throw during Texas A&M’s game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Fans celebrate after Texas A&M forward Henry Coleman III (15)’s offensive rebound during Texas A&M’s game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Sophomore F Solomon Washington (13) dunks during A&M’s game against Missouri at Reed Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M guard Wade Taylor IV (4) smiles during Texas A&M’s game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M forward Wildens Leveque (10) and Missouri center Connor Vanover (75) fight for the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

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The wet, muggy weather in College Station on Jan. 23 was anything but beautiful. In fact, it was ugly.

Almost poetically, the matchup between the Aggies and Missouri inside Reed Arena was reflective of the atmosphere outside. A&M’s 63-57 victory over the Tigers was anything but pretty, with 42 collective fouls drawn, 47 total free throws shot and with neither team scratching 40% shooting percentage.

Despite this, thanks to a balanced attack from four different Aggies including 19 from junior guard Wade Taylor IV, the Maroon and White scraped on 28.8% shooting, their lowest percentage in a win all season.

A&M has serious troubles pulling away, but they have a knack for staying in games

Running away with games has been a real challenge for the Aggies this season. The only double-digit victories for A&M this season have been Texas A&M-Commerce, SMU, Penn State, Houston Christian, DePaul and Prairie View A&M. 

Minus Penn State and DePaul, the Aggies don’t have a single double-digit win over a Power-6 school. However, when you look on the other side of it, the Maroon and White have only been truly uncompetitive in two games this season.

A&M’s double-digit losses to Virginia and LSU are really the only games the Aggies have not been in the game late, with the Maroon and White’s only other double-digit loss against Auburn being misleading. The Aggies were within striking distance most of the game before Auburn pulled away late.

“No matter what the NET says, no matter what KenPom says, no matter what Twitter says, all of this is incredibly hard, and the margin is almost invisible,” coach Buzz Williams said. “I think our group, some of the turmoil with things we can’t control has hardened us in a good way … We’ve played 8 Quad-1 games, more than anyone in our league.”

All of A&M’s other losses — Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Houston, Arkansas — were single-digit losses where the Aggies couldn’t land the killing blow.

Whichever way you look at it, a problem or a solution, the Aggies will put up a fight each game; Whether that means punching above or below their weight class.

“When adversity strikes, I think everybody knows what to do,” senior forward Henry Coleman III said. “We go back to our habits, the hard work that we put in … There’s never a panic within this program, within this team. Close game, blowout game, we’re still going to play Texas A&M basketball.”

The big-man tandem of Andersson Garcia and Henry Coleman III were crucial

With the absence of Julius Marble this season, A&M’s post play has struggled at times. This is why senior forwards Andersson Garcia — who has been one of the Aggies’ most all-around players — and Coleman stepping up offensively was a major bright spot in an otherwise sloppy game.

Coleman has only played 33 minutes in the last three games before Missouri due to injury, but came back into form against the Tigers.

The Richmond, Virginia native racked up 10 points and five rebounds, going 8-12 from the line, his first double-digit scoring performance since he scored 17 at Auburn.

“[Coleman’s] 100%,” Garcia said.” We all saw it tonight.”

His fellow big man in Garcia has quietly been having some of the best offensive performances of his career, now scoring at least 10 in the last three straight.

“[Garcia’s] always been a confident player,” Coleman said. “In practice, we’ve seen him hit a bunch of 3s. We’ve seen him make moves that he’s making now. Just credit to him for keeping his confidence up this whole time even when he’s making shots, not making shots or even getting the shots that he wants.”

A&M’s heavy reliance on the guard play of Taylor and graduate G Tyrece Radford has often put a strain on the offense, relying on either to make a big play to keep the Aggies’ offense from stalling out.

Getting solid performances from not just one, but both Garcia and Coleman opens up options for the Maroon and White’s offense. If they can both continue to be weapons, not just securing offensive rebounds, but putting points on the scoreboard, it could help elevate A&M’s offense beyond just its back court.

The Aggies are racking up free-throw attempts, but still have to bump their free-throw percentage

A&M has shot at least 20 free throws in each SEC game, and their contest against Missouri was their biggest performance by volume in conference play. The Aggies shot 37, their most free-throw attempts since Dec. 30 when they played Prairie View A&M.

It’s not a secret that the Maroon and White play physically and want to get to the charity stripe, and it’s working. The Aggies are No. 24 in free-throw attempts per game. The issue, and it’s the same one they had the game prior against LSU, is capitalizing.

Granted, A&M’s foul-line shooting has improved since last game, going from 55% to 73%, but when you shoot a high volume of free throws, you can’t afford to give up free points. The Aggies went 27-37 from the line, and if they make just three more shots, this game is close to an easy, comfortable victory.

In conference play, each point matters, and leaving points on the court could prove fatal against the multitude of Quadrant-1 opponents the Aggies face going forward.

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About the Contributor
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor
Hunter Mitchell is a sport management senior minoring in journalism. Hunter has covered football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, hockey, cross country, track and field, along with swim and dive. Hunter's favorite sport is college basketball, and he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. Hunter also hosts weekly episodes of the Home Turf sports podcast.
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