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

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Men’s basketball hits road for second Arkansas matchup

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Sophomore guard Marcus Williams (1) running through Arkansas defenders to shoot a layup in the Aggies’ game against the Razorbacks on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

On Saturday, Jan. 22, Texas A&M men’s basketball, one of the hottest teams in college basketball this month, will take on Arkansas at Bud Walton Arena, where the Razorbacks have seen few losses this season.
After a rough stretch from going 1-5 with three consecutive SEC losses to open conference play, the Razorbacks have won three straight to claim a 13-5 record while going 10-1 at home. Like the Aggies, Arkansas has played its best basketball recently, with blowouts against South Carolina and Missouri, and a road win over then-No. 12 LSU.
The teams previously faced off in Reed Arena two weeks ago, in which A&M won 86-81, with five different Aggies scoring in double figures. Similarly to previous games this year, they went on a significant scoring run (16-0) to separate themselves in the second half. Arkansas battled back within single digits, but free throws from sophomore guard Marcus Williams and a clutch 3-pointer from fifth-year guard Quenton Jackson sealed the game for A&M. Jackson leads the maroon-and-white in scoring this season, despite coming off the bench and getting the fifth-most minutes per game.
Junior guard Andre Gordon said it was a case of two halves, one bad and one good, so the Aggies will have to become more well rounded from start to finish in order to continue winning important conference games against quality opponents.
“I think it’s a good thing in the sense that, if we’re up 17, we’re a really good team,” Gordon said. “I think we should be able to put two halves together. We’ve been a first half team at times, a second half team at times. We have to be able to play two halves to win the game.”
Coach Buzz Williams said it wasn’t a sustainable method for winning games in the future with poor free-throw shooting and lapses on the defensive end, but was encouraged with the team’s grit down the stretch.
“If you look at the numbers, I’m not sure we can win a game based on these numbers,” coach Williams said. “But, I thought our spirit, energy and fight that our guys played with, excluding the first six minutes, was fun to be a part of.”
Another win over the Razorbacks would give the Aggies their first season sweep of Arkansas since joining the SEC, and A&M is 7-9 against Arkansas over that span. Last time the Aggies left Fayetteville, Ark., with a win was in 2019, which was also the first time they beat Arkansas since joining the conference.
A win this weekend on the Razorbacks’ home court would be a unique experience for A&M as it makes a case to join the top-25 rankings and faces more high-quality teams over the next month. In the last AP rankings, the Aggies fell just short of being ranked. They sit in the upper echelon of the conference with No. 2 Auburn, No. 13 LSU, No. 12 Kentucky and No. 24 Tennessee.
Senior guard JD Notae has been one of Arkansas’ best players this season, leading the team in minutes per game, has attempted an abundance of field goals at a 43% clip and is tied for first in the SEC in scoring with 18.8 points per game. Notae has attempted 274 field goals and made 117 while the next closest, graduate guard Stanley Umude, has attempted 149 and made 71 in comparison. Notae is Arkansas’ key to success and the A&M backcourt will have to be disciplined and tuned in to him on defense and offense, as he’s racked up almost 30% of the team’s steals with 42. He leads the conference in steals per game with 2.6.
It won’t be an easy win for the Aggies — they’ll have to be laser-focused on defense to limit Notae’s chances at scoring, and share the ball on offense to get the Razorbacks spread out. A&M finds strength when keeping the ball moving on offense and sharing scoring opportunities, like in its win over Arkansas a couple weeks ago. That game, apart from allowing a second-half comeback, could be another recipe for success.
The 107th all-time meeting is set for a 7:30 p.m. Saturday night tip-off on SEC Network. A&M will then head to Baton Rouge, La., for a ranked road matchup with currently 15-2 LSU. The Tigers face Tennessee in a ranked matchup on Saturday night before hosting the Aggies.

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