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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

Late-game failures cost Aggies another ranked win

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior guard Andre Gordon (20) scored 18 points, four 3-pointers and had four rebounds in the Aggies’ game against LSU.

During the week leading up to the game, Texas A&M men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams said on his radio show that, according to all the metrics he tracked, the LSU Tigers have the best defense in the country.
Yet when the clock hit triple zeros, the Aggies scored 64 points, tied for the fifth-highest mark LSU had given up this season. In those other five games, the Tigers went 1-4, only beating Alabama. A&M can be added to that list, and LSU is now 2-4 in such games.
From the surface, it would seem the Aggies had a great offensive output against a stout defense. A&M had a 20-point performance from graduate guard Quenton Jackson, 18 points from junior guard Andre Gordon — in his first start this season — and 14 points from junior guard and Baton Rouge, La., native Tyrece Radford. They also hit three, four and two shots from 3, respectively.
As a result of these numbers, LSU trailed for about 15.5 minutes more than they led. A&M had a 5-point lead with three and a half minutes remaining, a seemingly safe margin for the Aggies. A 6-point lead was the largest spread either team managed throughout the game, and the Tigers were missing three of their most valuable players.
Tari Eason, LSU’s sophomore forward and leading scorer, was in and out of the game during the second half due to injuries. Senior forward Darius Days and senior guard Xavier Pinson — the Tigers’ leaders in rebounds and assists, respectively, as well as the team’s second and third leading scorers — were questionable before the game and did not log any time.
Despite these setbacks, A&M shot 1-for-9 and was outscored 13-2 in those final three and a half minutes, losing 64-70.
“I don’t think it was just, necessarily, the last four minutes that hurt us,” Gordon said, “But I think it was the entire game. We just got to do things better as a team.”
When you look closer at A&M’s offensive performance, it’s easier to see where things went wrong. Whether it was the 65% shooting from the free-throw line, 18 team turnovers or the 25 team fouls, there are plenty of figures to point to in explaining the team’s loss.
The Aggies fell to 15-5 on the season, 4-3 in conference, and have lost their last three games to Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU, two of which were the only ranked teams A&M has played thus far.
“Every game that we lose is very frustrating,” Gordon said. “On the road, this is our first road game loss; it sucks because we know our potential. We played against a really good LSU team. We had it in the bag, we let it go.”
In what many fans were hoping could be a marquee win, A&M was within striking distance of a victory that could further push the Aggies’ agenda for a tournament appearance in March. However, that depends on how much one can consider a depleted ranked team that had a below 0.500 SEC record.
Instead, LSU escaped the game with a win to hang their hats on. At 16-4, and improved health imminent, the Tigers are shaping up to be a much different team when the programs rematch on Tuesday, Feb. 8.
Three ranked opponents remain on A&M’s schedule in Tennessee, LSU and Auburn. Against Kentucky and LSU, A&M proved it can hang with anyone else. In both games, A&M led its ranked opponent for more than triple the time its SEC foe did. But in both instances, late-game shortcomings cost the Aggies their games.
A&M will have a chance to reverse its momentum against an 11-7 South Carolina basketball team. The Aggies will face off at home with the Gamecocks on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m., with the opportunity to end their losing streak.

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