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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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Men’s basketball opens season with exhibition win against A&M-Kingsville

Junior+guard+Andre+Gordon+dunks+on+the+Kingsville+goal+in+the+first+half.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior guard Andre Gordon dunks on the Kingsville goal in the first half.

The new faces of Texas A&M men’s basketball have arrived in Reed Arena.

On Monday, Nov. 1, the team got its season underway with an exhibition match against A&M-Kingsville. After a back-and-forth affair, the Aggies pulled away late edging out a 76-72 win.

After the contest, A&M head coach Buzz Williams said the teams’ performance was closer than many expected because the Aggies are still working out the kinks and learning to play together.

“The same things that bothered us last Saturday are the same things that bothered us tonight,” Buzz Williams said. “So I think it was reinforcement for what we need to practice and why we need to practice.”

The game served as a reunion for Buzz Williams, who battled his former stomping ground, A&M-Kingsville, where he served as an assistant coach during the team’s 1998-1999 season.

The Javelinas got off to a hot start, forcing five turnovers in the game’s first nine minutes. A layup by sophomore guard C.J. Smith gave A&M-Kingsville a 20-11 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the opening half. The Aggies found their stride in the next few minutes, and a pair of 3-pointers by sophomore guards Hassan Diarra and Marcus Williams gave the Aggies a 28-26 advantage.

In the waning moments of the opening half, A&M-Kingsville senior guard Tre Flowers knocked down a three to give the Javelinas a 40-37 lead. After a pair of misses, Diarra tied the score with a 3-pointer of his own. The Aggies gained possession for the final 21 seconds of the half, and junior guard Tyrece Radford made them count, swishing a three to give A&M a 43-40 lead at the half.

The squads continued to trade blows into the second half. A 3-pointer from junior guard Andre Gordon gave A&M a 50-43 advantage, tied for its largest lead of the evening. The advantage was short lived, as A&M-Kingsville went on a 16-9 run to lock the score at 59.

The score was knotted at 69 with just over two minutes remaining, when Marcus Williams scored from beyond the arc to put the Aggies up three points. A rebound by Radford forced the Javelinas to foul, and four free throws by graduate student guard Quenton Jackson gave the Aggies a narrow 76-69 victory.

Marcus Williams, Rashford and Diarra led the team in points, each player finishing with 13. Radford finished with a team-leading seven rebounds and five steals, and Williams compiled four assists.

In the post-game press conference, Diarra said he has enjoyed playing with the new members of the team, including Marcus Williams, who transferred from Wyoming, and Radford, who transferred from Virginia Tech.

“I’m glad new faces are around,” Diarra said. “I feel like we’re a really good team. We have to clean up a few things, definitely, but the new faces are great. [Radford], Marcus, a bunch of other guys are ready for this spotlight. I think they’re really good.”

Coach Williams is entering his third season at the helm of the Aggies. Like other teams in the Southeastern Conference, he saw many of his players transfer throughout the 2020-2021 season, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A&M-Kingsville coach Johnny Estelle, who coached the Javelinas alongside Coach Williams in 1998-99, said his squad’s performance could be attributed to its experience and 15-3 finish last season, but added the Aggies will improve as the season progresses.

“We had a good year [last season]. We enjoyed some success,” Estelle said. “We have more games under our belts. But I wouldn’t want to play [Buzz Williams] in three weeks.”

A&M’s season will officially kick off on Nov. 10, when the Aggies host North Florida at Reed Arena. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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