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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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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June 16, 2024

Hogg leads A&M to 81-65 victory over Pepperdine

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Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

Junior forward DJ Hogg looks to pass the ball inside.

No. 16 Texas A&M used the leftovers from their pre-Thanksgiving trip to the Big Apple to close play in the Legends Classic with an 81-65 victory over Pepperdine Friday night at Reed Arena.
“If you want to be really good, you have to be good every day,” A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “We have had a tough schedule when you go to Germany and then turn around and go to New York and play in that kind of an atmosphere with that kind of emotion. Some of it is reality, but you want to get to a point where you don’t let that have an effect on you. I thought it had an effect on us more than I would have liked.”
For the third time in five games, D.J. Hogg led the way for A&M with 18 points after knocking down 4-of-9 from deep. The junior forward almost etched a double-double, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds.
Three other Aggies scored in double figures aside from Hogg, led by junior center Tyler Davis who scored 16 despite fouling out in the closing minutes. Senior guard Duane Wilson continued his hot ways with 15 points, and freshman guard Jay Jay Chandler provided a catalyst off the bench with 10 of his own.
Friday marked the highly-anticipated debut of touted point guard J.J. Caldwell, who missed the first four games due to suspension. Off the bench, Caldwell was rather quiet, but provided three assists.
“I thought J.J. Caldwell played some good minutes, he did some good things for us,” Kennedy said. “I thought he was excited to play and tried to play within himself. He is a really good passer and makes plays for other people.”
Ball movement was pivotal for the Aggies, who had 25 assists on 29 made field goals. Surprisingly, the assist leader was forward Robert Williams who had six, but was limited to just four points which came on a pair of dunks.
“For us to have 25 assists, that is pretty good no matter who you are playing,” Kennedy said. “Offensively, I like the unselfishness of this team.”
Pepperdine pulled within six points twice in the second half, but after making a bucket at the 7:31 mark to make it 60-54 A&M, the Waves went cold turkey. A 5:35 drought without a made field goal allowed the Aggies to pull away and lead by as many as 17, at 75-58 with 2:22 to go.
“Our defensive energy, I feel like that’s something we struggle with as a team,” Wilson said. “For the last five or six minutes, we really picked it up and defensively we were moving and we were talking.”
A&M was outscored in the paint 32-30, but had its way down low with Pepperdine blocking 11 shots.
“Obviously when you have size and athleticism, they want to try and block shots,” Pepperdine head coach Marty Wilson said. “I didn’t think we had the poise to go in and lift fake to try and get them off the ground and be able to make a play.”
A&M was on fire from behind the arch to begin the game as the Aggies’ first three buckets of the night were threes. A&M soon settled down from deep, but shot 60 percent (6-of-15) from downtown in the opening period.
Turnovers troubled the Waves in the first half, coughing the ball up nine times which the Aggies transitioned into 15 points while taking a 41-28 lead into the break.
“One thing we talked about at halftime was we had too many turnovers,” Marty Wilson said. “We had nine turnovers that led to their fifteen points.”
Up next for the Aggies is a road trip to Los Angeles on Sunday to face No. 10 USC, whom A&M fondly remembers falling just short to 65-63 in College Station last season. Even those who were not on roster for last year’s contest know their teammates desire to claim a win in the return trip.
“Tomorrow put this game away and move on to get ready for USC,” Chandler said. “I wasn’t on the team last year, but just hearing it was a good game, we’re hungry as a team to play them again. This is a top-ten team at a big stage. That’s what we’ve been waiting for.”
Texas A&M will face USC Sunday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. and the game will be televised on Pac-12 Network.

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