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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 moves forward from Sweet 16 loss

Freshman+guard+TJ+Starks+was+2-for-11+shooting.
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Freshman guard TJ Starks was 2-for-11 shooting.

LOS ANGELES — After a 27-point loss to Michigan in the Sweet 16, Texas A&M will not turn into off season mode.
A&M’s season came to an end Thursday at the Staples Center after the Aggies were unable to hit any shots on the court, shooting 47.8 percent throughout the game. Michigan jumped out to a 19-6 lead at the 12-minute mark in the first half and never relinquished it.
“Felt like we ran into a buzz saw. I felt like Michigan, the first eight to 10 minutes, played about as well as anybody we played against this year,” A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “They looked like that’s how they played in the Big Ten tournament, more so than they played their last two games.”
In the first half, the Aggies struggled to contain Michigan’s offense from behind the 3-point line, which shot 62.5 percent from behind the arc. Kennedy said the game plan going into the second half was to contain the Wolverines’ 3-point shooting. However, Kennedy said the moment A&M took shots behind the arc away from Michigan, the Wolverines found a way to drive to the rim and score points.
“It seemed like whatever we did, they figured it out,” Kennedy said. “We took away the 3-point line in the second half then it was putting our guys one-on-one to take tough twos. It was just kind of comical and just shook my head because it was their day.”
Despite the outcome of the game, Kennedy said he was proud of his team for fighting through the adversity they faced this season after suspensions and injuries plagued the program.
“Just the resiliency of what we were able to get through,” Kennedy said. “To finish so well and playing well towards the end of the year and the whole last month of the year it wasn’t just this time of the year.”
Kennedy also said for the Aggies to finish in the Sweet 16 and rather at home on the couch when the bracket was unveiled was a success and testament to the grit and adversity they faced throughout the year.
“We won our last three [regular season] SEC games in tough atmospheres and tough places,” Kennedy said. “This team came together at the right time and I thought pretty much maxed out at the end.”
Following the game, sophomore forward Robert Williams announced his intentions to declare for the NBA draft, saying his two seasons have been some of the most important in his life.
“It was a blessing. It was fun,” Williams said. “Trials and tribulations [included]. All in all, it was a great, great experience.”
Kennedy said while losing Williams will play an impact on the program, the future of A&M basketball is bright, due to freshman guard TJ Starks. In his debut season, Starks played in 32 games and started in 15 of them, including Thursday’s Sweet 16 game.
However, in the moments after the game Kennedy said Starks should try and take notes from the Michigan offensive leaders.
“He can learn from how [Michigan’s] point guard ran the offense at times on both ends of the floor,” Kennedy said. “You have to play both ends of the floor at the highest level. I thought the turnovers and taking care of the ball is something that is of value and I’m sure that something he’ll learn also.”
Despite the criticism after the game, Kennedy is optimistic his team will recover.
“We got a great future,” Kennedy said. “We have a great base of guys coming back and our freshman did some special things for us this year and we’ll come up with another great recruiting class this year as we finish spring recruiting.”

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