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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

Sophomore LHP Shane Sdao (38) reacts after a strikeout during Texas A&Ms game against Texas at Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
A Sunday salvage
May 12, 2024
The Northgate district right adjacent to the Texas A&M campus houses a street of bars and other restaurants.  
Programs look to combat drunk driving
Alexia Serrata, JOUR 203 contributor • May 10, 2024
Texas A&M infielder Ted Burton (27) and catcher Jackson Appel (20) collide during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Friday, May 17, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Razorbacks take Game 2 over Aggies behind solid bullpen performance
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor • May 17, 2024

In Thursday’s game against No. 3 Arkansas, it took 11 innings in a historic pitcher’s duel between junior LHP Hagen Smith and sophomore LHP...

Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Rubber match in Music City

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Graduate G Dexter Dennis (0) reacts after the Aggies retain possession of the ball in the final seconds of Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Reed Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

Texas A&M men’s basketball and Arkansas are making a habit out of facing each other in the SEC Tournament. Last year, both teams faced off in the semifinals of the 2022 SEC Tournament. At the time, Arkansas was a No. 4 seed and A&M was a No. 8 seed. The game went in favor of the Aggies in blowout fashion.
This time around the maroon and white are the favorites. A&M bulldozed through its SEC schedule to the tune of a 15-3 record, but one of those three losses was on the road to Arkansas.
A&M and Arkansas each held serve in its home arenas in the previous two matchups. The Razorbacks won the first one in decisive fashion. The maroon and white struggled to deal with rim protection from twins forward/center Makhi and Makhel Mitchell. The seniors combined for 10 blocks and ended up being the deciding factor in the game.
The Aggies returned the favor against the Razorbacks a few weeks later at Reed Arena. A strong second half performance erased A&M’s nine point deficit at halftime and led to its victory. Sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half. The Aggies forced the Razorbacks into playing their style of play.
Arkansas is one of the most athletic and talented teams in the entire conference. The issue has been health and incorporating talented freshmen into a cohesive team. The Razorbacks have a pair of potential NBA draft lottery picks in freshman guards Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black. Smith, the top-ranked player in the 2022 recruiting class according to 247 Sports, has only played 13 games this season due to injury. When both are healthy, there’s an argument Smith and Black are the most talented backcourt in the entire conference.
Recently, Smith returned to action and played a big role in Arkansas’ close victory over Auburn in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Smith hit a go-ahead baseline jumper in the final seconds to win the game. As good as Smith was in the game, the Razorbacks’ best player was Black. Black had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists against Auburn and orchestrated almost every set Arkansas ran.
Following Arkansas’ win, coach Eric Musselman complimented A&M’s coaching staff.
“First of all, they are really well coached,” Musselman said. “We, as a staff, have incredible respect for Buzz Williams.”
Musselman mentioned the Aggies’ physicality and guards as a couple of their strengths. Specifically, Musselman cited Taylor and senior guard Tyrece Radford as two players Arkansas will have to contain on the perimeter along with junior forwards Julius Marble and Henry Coleman on the interior.
“[A&M is] physical,” Musselman said. “Their upfront guys, Coleman and Marble, rebound the basketball and score points in the paint. Obviously, they have two star players in Wade Taylor and Radford. I actually love watching those guys play.”
Black said looking back at previous matchups against the Aggies will be at the forefront of the Razorbacks’ preparation for the quarterfinal matchup.
“[A&M is] a really good team and they play really hard,” Black said. “We just got to go back and watch to see what worked for us and what didn’t. Then come out with a good game plan like usual. Execute the game plan and try to play harder [than them].”
The key for A&M will be to not start slow against Arkansas. In their previous two matchups, the maroon and white fell behind early. Without the luxury of playing in a packed Reed Arena, it would be tough for A&M to dig itself out of an early hole.
Another problem for the Aggies will be containing the Razorbacks’ pick and roll spearheaded by Black. Auburn struggled mightily against Arkansas’ high screen and roll. It got to a point where Auburn would have to commit an extra defender to guard the roll man. It wouldn’t be a shock to see A&M incorporate some zone into its defensive game plan to keep Arkansas out of the paint.
In both of their prior matchups, the Razorbacks’ length gave the Aggies fits in the paint. Despite this, Marble looks at Arkansas’ height advantage as a positive for A&M.
“You have to think about how you’re going to guard us,” Marble said. “Yeah, maybe we don’t get much rebounds or have much size but we make up for that because we have different guys being able to cover each other’s butts on different things. Having Dexter and [Tyrece] “Boots” [Radford] is a huge part of what we do defensively. That helps us out so much and they come in and grab rebounds for us and make it so much easier so it doesn’t seem like a disadvantage all the time.”
Taylor said while A&M has been preparing to face Arkansas, its main focus is to ensure the version of themselves shows up in Nashville on Friday, March 10.
“We try to focus a little bit on both of them but really just focus on us,” Taylor said. “We know we are the best where we are and no telling what can happen. We’re just trying to get better at what we’re trying to do.”

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