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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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Horns down Aggies 73-69 in charity exhibition game

Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

Forward Tonny Trocha-Morelos scored a game-high 19 points off the bench in A&M’s 73-69 loss to Texas.

HOUSTON – A friendly charity game turned into a classic feisty Lonestar Showdown between Texas A&M and Texas, with the Longhorns prevailing over their longtime rival Aggies 73-69 in an exhibition match at Rice Univeristy’s Tudor Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
“First time I’ve ever coached a game this early that intense,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “I thought Texas looked a little further ahead offensively and defensively than us, got to give them credit. I thought they were ready to play.”
Tonny Trocha-Morelos, who scored a game-high 19 points off the bench, hit a corner three at the 4:29 mark of the second half, getting the Aggies within one point at 67-66.
That was as close as A&M would get though with the Longhorns keeping the Aggies from taking any second-half lead. Forward Mohamad Bamba iced the game with 12 seconds remaining, making the later of two free throws to give the Horns a four-point lead.
“We were playing too much in the second half not to lose,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “I do think the last two to three minutes our guys buckled down, made some big plays … Mo [Bamba] making one of two [free throws] at the end was big just because it made it a two-possession game.”
Still, the 2,048 fans that turned out for the charity exhibition game that donated all proceeds to Rebuild Texas.
“Two great teams that have a storied rivalry coming together to benefit those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who was in attendance, said. “I’m proud of the University of Texas and Texas A&M University for agreeing to do this.
Aside from the rivalry, the game meant more to many on each roster with 12 of 32 players combined from A&M and Texas coming from the Houston area.
“Thank you everybody for coming out, this game really means a lot to me and my city,” Texas guard and Houston native Kerwin Roach II said. “The hurricane affected a lot of people and this game is one way to relieve all of that … It means more than basketball to me.”
Bamba, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in his debut for the Horns, said two things crossed his mind when the matchup was announced – beating A&M and matching up against Robert Williams.
“I remember we were preparing for [the game] and going through the scouting report and they gave us the rationale of why he came back to school and that’s all the motivation I needed,” Bamba said of matching up against Williams.
An abundance of Horn fouls and turnovers allowed the Aggies to march back from as many as 17 points down to within a point.
“Our guys fought hard in the second half,” Kennedy said. “I thought we played hard enough on the defensive end in the second half … We forced more turnovers and I thought our energy was much better.”
There were 28 total fouls called on Texas and A&M was 25-of-35 from the foul line. The Aggies had their share of fouls as well, committing 23. In the second half, double technicals were assessed on Trocha-Morelos and Texas forward Dylan Osetkowski.
“I felt like it was just the heat of the game,” Trocha-Morelos said of the atmosphere. “We love this sport. We want to give our best and we don’t like losing … Texas is a good team so you have to be excited. At this level, you have to be prepared.”
At the half, the Horns led 38-26 after dominating the opening 20 minutes. A&M struggled, shooting just 25 percent while Texas was 63 percent from the field in the opening period.
Just over seven in a half minutes passed between made baskets for the Aggies during a stretch in the middle of the first half.
“I thought we took a lot of bad, quick shots and Texas’s defense had something to do with that,” Kennedy said. “We were just disorganized at times.”
Pressure was persistent from the Horns from the beginning of the game, both in press and down low in the paint. The strong defensive battle led to near even turnover numbers, with the two teams giving the ball away 23 times in the first half.
“The first half, their guards dictated the game on both ends of the floor,” Kennedy said. “Andrew Jones, Eric Davis, two experienced guys that played well and were tough matchups for us. Once we adjusted to the pace of the game I thought we were better.”
“There’s a lot of teaching moments. You saw some early season mistakes – guys not knowing who they had, some ill-advised shots.”
A&M returns to the court next Friday, Nov. 3 as the Aggies host Tarleton State in their final exhibition game.

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