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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

Men’s basketball returns to Reed to host Arkansas

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Guard Duane Wilson throws the ball around Ole Miss’s center, Dominik Olejniczak.

After a nightmarish loss to No. 7 Kansas on Saturday in the Big 12-SEC Challenge, the Aggies will look to get back to winning ways in SEC play (13-8, 2-6 SEC) as they host Arkansas (15-6, 4-4 SEC) Tuesday night.
The Aggies were outmatched from the opening tip off against Kansas.The Jayhawks jumped out to an early 14-7 and shot lights out in the first half, netting 53 percent (10-of-19) from behind the arc. The Aggie offense on the other hand, struggled to develop any kind of rhythm, due to limited ability from guards Admon Gilder and Duane Wilson who are still nursing knee injuries. The Aggies trailed 45-27 at the half.
The Aggies found success in the paint in the second half, and Tyler Davis posted 14 points in the second half. The maroon and white also played much tighter perimeter defense and limited the Jayhawks to just 29 percent (2-of-7) from behind the arc. The Aggies outscored the Jayhawks in the second half, 41-34, however, the newfound life was not enough to overcome an abysmal first half and the Aggies fell 79-68.
Moving forward, the Aggies will look to leave the past in the past and focus on a scorching hit Arkansas team. Arkansas enters the game after winning four of their last five games, including a narrow 66-65 victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Arkansas boasts a multitude of senior guards who are dangerous from the perimeter. Senior guard Jaylen Barford, who is averaging 18.8 points per game, will pose a tough test to Gilder and Wilson, who still aren’t 100 percent.
“They’re [Gilder and Wilson] much better than they’ve been. I though both of them had good minutes against Kansas. Duane’s feeling much better since the injury and Admon moved a lot better than in previous games. They’re getting closer to 100-percent, hopefully,” head coach Billy Kennedy said.
The Aggies will need to play much stouter perimeter defense than they did against Kansas, as Arkansas poses a similar threat from behind the arc. Barford and fellow guard Daryl Macon are averaging 45 percent and 43 percent from behind the arc and the whole Arkansas team is averaging an SEC-best 40 percent. Arkansas also ranks second in the SEC in points per game with 83.9.
“When you’re playing against the people we’re playing against, whether it’s Kansas, LSU and Tremont Water, and Arkansas’ guards, you’ve got to have your perimeter guys playing their best,” Kennedy said. “Our big guys are playing really well at this time, but we’ve got to put it all together.”
Head coach Billy Kennedy gave freshman guard T.J. Starks his first career start against Kansas in place of Duane Wilson. Starks provided the Aggies with an electric presence.
“T.J.’s giving us good minutes and he’s buying into how we want to play. He was productive last game [against Kansas],” Kennedy said.
The Aggies game against Arkansas will be played at Reed Arena and tip off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
“We’re glad we’re back home and have two games this week,” senior center Tonny Trocha-Morelos said. “I feel like we are in a good position right now to win some games and make it to the [NCAA] Tournament.”

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