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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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‘Job’s not done’

Photo by Ishika Samant

Graduate Quenton Jackson (3) hugs his team after his last game at Reed Arena on Wednesday, March 23 in Reed Arena

As the Texas A&M men’s basketball team left Reed Arena for the final time of the 2021-22 season, “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys blasted throughout the arena.
On Wednesday, March 23, A&M punched its ticket to New York City with a 67-52 win over Wake Forest, advancing to the National Invitational Tournament semifinals for the first time in university history.
The Aggies are now heading to the concrete jungle, with skyscrapers just as tall as the obstacles they have overcome this season.
The final obstacle that stood between the Aggies and Madison Square Garden proved personal for A&M head coach Buzz Williams. Williams and Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes worked alongside each other as assistant coaches at A&M from 2004-06, and the pair still stay in touch.
“He is one of my favorite people in the world,” Williams said. “I did not want to play him. [I] have the utmost respect for him.”
The first half began with simple, fun basketball for A&M. A hot start for the Aggies created an 11-2 lead at the first media timeout. Wake Forest struggled to shoot, airballing three times and only scoring 15 in the first half. A&M’s defense halted its usual offensive firepower and held ACC Player of the Year, senior guard Alondes Williams, to just three points at the half.
“It was one of the more fun games,” graduate guard Quenton Jackson said. “We were able to turn them over 21 times. Everybody was flying around, [and] everybody hooked up.”
The half slowed down for the Aggies, though, as they weren’t able to shut out Wake Forest’s offensive efforts forever. The Aggies progressively joined the Demon Deacons with poor shooting from deep. Both teams entered the locker room shooting 7.1% from behind the arc. It was the first time Wake Forest had shot less than 20% in a half since March 3, 2011, against Georgia Tech.
The Demon Deacons came back out with a chip on their shoulder, ready to claw their way to New York. An 8-0 Wake Forest run cut A&M’s lead to 10, and it was a back-and-forth affair until the Aggies settled down and finished what they started. A&M was not letting its season end at Reed Arena.
“The numbers say that we have played really well defensively,” Williams said. “Tonight was our 38th game. I’ve never coached a season that had 38 games, and for sure, none of our players have played a season with 38 games.”
Reminding themselves of the roller coaster they have been on this season, the Aggies dialed in and held the Demon Deacons to their lowest scoring game of the season.
“I think they did get rattled by the defense,” Forbes said. “I think they sped us up. That’s part of their plan. Great defensive teams don’t hope that you miss — they make you miss.”
As the game clock ticked down, Williams called a timeout, checking Jackson out of the game for his last time at Reed Arena. The electric crowd of 8,201 fans rose to their feet, thanking Jackson for his contribution to this program.
“My emotions almost got the best of me because there’s a lot of love,” Jackson said. “Coming from California, I never expected it to end this way.”
The Aggies have won 10 of their last 11 games, seven by double-digits. But, there is still more basketball to be played, as the Aggies face off against Washington State on Tuesday, March 29 at Madison Square Garden. Sophomore guard Hassan Diarra, a Queens native, said he can’t wait to return to his home state and play in front of his family.
“I was thinking about going to New York the whole game. It’s a blessing to play in front of my family for the first time. I was just so excited,” Diarra said.
However, the job’s not done, Jackson said.
“It feels good to win my last game here at Reed, for sure, but New York is where we need to be. New York is where we got to handle business,” Jackson said.

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