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

The Battalion

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Pony Suppress: No. 13 A&M men’s hoops to visit SMU

Senior+G+Hayden+Hefner+%282%29+dribbles+the+ball+up+the+court+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+A%26amp%3BM+Commerce.
Photo by Ishika Samant

Senior G Hayden Hefner (2) dribbles the ball up the court during Texas A&M’s game against A&M Commerce.

After being left out of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, Texas A&M men’s basketball decided it needed to revamp its non-conference schedule. One of the emergency additions was a home-and-home with a familiar foe: former Southwest Conference rival SMU.

The Aggies made their bed with last year’s 83-64 victory over the Mustangs in Reed Arena and a seven-seed in the Big Dance. Now they’ve got to lie in it with the return to Moody Coliseum in Dallas on Tuesday, Nov. 14 on ESPN+.

First facing off over a century ago, SMU narrowly leads the Aggies 91-88 in the overall series. Things haven’t been as competitive lately, as A&M has emerged from eight of the last 11 meetings victorious.

This time, they’ll have to beat one of the nation’s better defenses to go nine-for-12.

SMU is 3-0 after a trio of home victories to open its season, but it hasn’t exactly faced a murderers’ row — its wins have come against Southwestern Assemblies of God out of the NAIA, Western Illinois and Lamar by an average of just over 22 points. A&M provides the first true test of the Mustangs’ mettle.

SMU is blocking a whopping 21.7% of opponents’ shots — largely thanks to senior forward Tyreek Smith, who ranks sixth in the nation in total blocks.

That’s not the only stat the Aggies need to worry about. The Mustangs force a steal on 17.5% of opponents’ possessions. SMU has another player fighting for the national lead in that category, with sophomore guard B.J. Edwardsin fourth for total steals.

SMU’s bread and butter is turning defense into offense, which means A&M has two options: outshoot or out-possess the Mustangs.

Behind door number one, look for junior guard Wade Taylor IV and graduate guard Tyrece “Boots” Radford. A&M’s two leading scorers are averaging 18.5 and 15 points a game, respectively, and also lead the Aggies in field goal percentage.

If the SMU clash turns into a shootout, Taylor leads the Aggies in 3-pointers made. But it’s senior guard Hayden Hefner who is second on that list, largely thanks to his career-high 19 points against Texas A&M-Commerce, where he went 3-and-6 from behind the arc.

For door number two, look back to A&M’s 73-66 win over Ohio State and the performances of senior forward Henry Coleman III and senior forward Andersson Garcia.

Garcia pulled down 13 boards off of the bench, while Coleman added another 11 to his team-leading tally on the year as the Aggies outrebounded the Buckeyes 45-35. Both will have to have big days if A&M is to out-possess a team forcing as many turnovers as the Mustangs.

SMU may be averaging over 83 points a game, but its defense is the key to its offense. As long as A&M can handle that side of the ball, it shouldn’t have any trouble making like Wilson Pickett and slowing that Mustang (offense) down.

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About the Contributor
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
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