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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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Men’s basketball heads to Alabama hoping to end two-game skid.

Alex+Caruso
Photo by Photo by: Lawrence Smelser
Alex Caruso

Just two weeks ago, Texas A&M found itself at its highest AP ranking in school history with a firm hold atop the SEC. Things have changed.
Alabama hosts A&M on Wednesday at arguably its lowest point of the season — amid a three-game SEC losing streak.
The No. 15 Aggies (18-5, 7-3 SEC) rank 3rd in the SEC, and a win Wednesday night would make Saturday’s matchup against the conference-leading LSU a battle for first place yet again.
“Every game is a big game this time of year,” A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “We’ve got eight games left in conference play, and we’ve got to expect to get everybody’s best. So we’ve got to expect to be at our best.”
Alabama (13-9, 4-6 SEC) hired former Dallas Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson in the offseason. Johnson, also a former player for the San Antonio Spurs, grabbed his son, Avery Johnson Jr., from A&M last offseason and the Tide currently hold a two-game winning streak.
“[Avery Johnson Sr.] knows these guys really well because he was really a part of our program, and that’s not something I’m excited about,” Kennedy said. “But, it’s going to come down to the players.”
Although Alabama has often struggled this season, it had flashes of greatness in wins over South Carolina, No. 25 Wichita State and Notre Dame.
Senior guard Retin Obasohan has been the leading scorer for Alabama with 16 points per game. Obasohan has just one single-digit performance since 2015.
His 25 and 16-point outings last week against Mississippi State and Missouri earned him SEC Player of the Week. He is the first Alabama player to receive that honor twice in a season since 2004-05.
Shannon Hale and Arthur Edwards also average double-digits for the Crimson Tide. Hale, however, missed the last couple games due to a foot injury. His status is questionable against A&M.
A&M’s senior duo of Jalen Jones and Danuel House flip-flopped their No. 1 and No. 2 scoring roles from last year, but that may change soon. Lately, teams have answered Jones’ offense whether it’s from mid-range or in the paint.
In the last four outings, the senior forward averaged almost 10 points each game — six shy from his regular mark — and he fouled out in two of the three losses. House remains consistent, as he merely has two single-digit outings.
Defensively, A&M has improved this year in almost every aspect. But, perimeter defending has been an exposed weakness as of late. In the last two losses, Vanderbilt and South Carolina combined for 25 three-pointers. The Crimson Tide registers almost eight beyond the arc per game.
“I thought we played well against South Carolina, but we did not defend them like we are capable of,” Kennedy said. “Alabama’s a very good team and we’re going to have to play better defensively to win on the road there.”
Like the past three SEC opponents that upset the Aggies, a win for the Crimson Tide could turn things around and make a lasting impression for Avery Johnson.
With half of the SEC one or two games away from first, a win for A&M is a must to stay in serious contention. And two straight wins could be enough to put the Aggies back on top.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.

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