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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

SEC Tournament preview

Junior+F+Andersson+Garcia+%2811%29+tries+to+shoot+the+ball+during+a+game+vs.+Alabama+on+Saturday%2C+March+4%2C+2023.
Photo by Ishika Samant

Junior F Andersson Garcia (11) tries to shoot the ball during a game vs. Alabama on Saturday, March 4, 2023.

Next on No. 18 Texas A&M men’s basketball’s agenda, following an impressive victory in its season finale against No. 4 Alabama, is a trip to Nashville to compete in the SEC Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena. The maroon and white enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed. 

A byproduct of the Aggies’ strong conference play is that they will not play until Friday, March 10, against the winner of Arkansas and Auburn on March 9. The maroon and white will only need to win three games to win the conference championship — putting A&M in a much better position than last season. 

The Aggies entered the 2022 SEC tournament as the eighth seed, meaning A&M had to battle through a gauntlet of opponents, such as then-No. 1 Auburn and then-No. 4 Arkansas, to reach the championship game against eventual tournament winner Tennessee. The run was impressive, but it still resulted in A&M not making the NCAA Tournament.

 This season, A&M is the hunted and will have to take every opponent’s best punch to accomplish what they couldn’t last season. A good thing for the Aggies is they have beaten all of the top teams in the tournament outside of Kentucky, so they’re sure to enter the tournament with confidence.

Unlike last season, the Aggies do not enter the conference tournament outside of the NCAA Tournament. A&M looks sure to comfortably make the NCAA Tournament, with only seeding at stake depending on how it performs.

One of the most interesting things to look for will be how the maroon and white’s recent strong run will travel. Most of A&M’s most impressive wins have occurred while playing at Reed Arena. Despite playing great throughout its conference slate, all three of the Aggies’ losses occurred on the road. 

The maroon and white have shown the ability to win on the road but have also looked vulnerable at times. Take, for example, A&M’s road losses against Kentucky and Mississippi State. In both matchups, offensive struggles from the field and perimeter played a major role in the Aggies being on the losing side. 

A&M’s success will come from leaning on what has gotten them to this point: defense and guard play. 

All-conference guards sophomore Wade Taylor IV and senior Tyrece Radford have carried much of the offensive burden throughout this season. It isn’t a surprise that A&M’s losses have come when one or both struggle. Both will need to play well for A&M to win the tournament.

The Aggies’ defense has been suffocating throughout much of their conference slate. A lot of A&M’s success on the defensive end can be attributed to coach Buzz Williams and pure effort from their players. The co-SEC Coach of the Year and AP SEC Coach of the Year has made a habit out of making in-game adjustments to give A&M an advantage on defense. 

The favorite to win the tournament remains No. 1 seed Alabama. The Tide are led by freshman forward Brandon Miller. Miller recently won the SEC player of the year award and is seemingly a lock to end up as a top-ten pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

For A&M to win the conference tournament, they will probably have to beat Alabama for the second time this season. This time, the Aggies will not have the luxury of battling the Crimson Tide in front of a packed Reed Arena.

All in all, the Aggies look set for an eventful month of March.

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