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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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Survival in the bayou

A&M outlasts LSU on the road to split season series
Junior+G+Wade+Taylor+%284%29+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BM%E2%80%99s+game+against+LSU+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+6%2C+2024%2C+in+Reed+Arena.+%28Ishika+Samant%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Ishika Samant
Junior G Wade Taylor (4) during Texas A&M’s game against LSU on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

The last time Texas A&M men’s basketball walked off the court against LSU, the Aggies were stunned. Before their conference-opening loss to the Tigers, the Aggies had won 12-straight conference games at Reed Arena and were unsure what to do after a home loss.

Now, to take back a game from the Bayou Bengals, A&M had to go on the road and stop an LSU team fresh off a top-25 win over Ole Miss the game prior.

Thanks to a dominant performance on the offensive glass and 19 points from junior guard Wade Taylor IV, the Aggies were able to walk out of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center with a c vv 73-69 victory, giving the Maroon and White their second conference win and first-ever win streak against LSU on the road.

Wade Taylor may be the most important scorer, but Andersson Garcia is the most important player

Taylor’s heroics have been well documented this season. In three of A&M’s 20-point comebacks, he is averaging 36.6 points per game, including a career-high 41 against Arkansas last game.

Coming in with his offseason accolades, it’s to no one’s surprise that the Dallas Native is putting up the numbers he is. In all of the Aggies’ comebacks, he has willed them to within striking distance with his scoring. But what Taylor is to points, senior forward Andersson Garcia is to just about everything else.

Against LSU, Garcia racked up 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a steal, but if offensive-rebound assists existed, he’d be the best in the country. Just about every time Garcia can’t corral a long rebound, his ability to extend possessions by spiking the ball to a guard near half court means he’s still a menace on the offensive glass, even if it’s not his own rebound.

Off the bench, Garcia is leading the SEC in rebounds and is third in the country in offensive rebounds, a mark he may jump to first in after snagging six offensive boards against the Tigers.

Scoring will always be the precedent for greatness. Understandably, since the fundamental premise of basketball is scoring more points equals winning. But Garcia’s contribution to the Aggies has been the key to any kind of offensive success this season.

A&M let LSU out-offensive rebound it in the first game, but flipped the script in the second

In the first contest between these teams, LSU became just the second team to out-offensive rebound the Aggies this season, grabbing 14 to A&M’s 13. However, the biggest difference wasn’t the extra rebound, it’s that the Tigers put up 18 second-chance points to just 3 for A&M.

LSU didn’t get the chance to do that in Game 2.

The Maroon and White dominated the offensive glass, grabbing 21 offensive rebounds to just six for the Tigers. Once again though, the second-chance points were the real difference. A&M put up 27, while LSU was blanked, not managing a single second-chance point all game.

The Aggies offensive identity is well documented — coming into the game No. 1 in the country in offensive rebounds — but comparing two games against the same opponent shows just how important the offensive glass is to A&M.

When the Maroon and White can extend possession and put up multiple shots, even with poor shooting percentages, they can be competitive. When they fail to do so, that is when you see A&M’s offensive struggles rear its ugly head.

The Aggies are finally getting back to free-throw line, but they’re not capitalizing

Good news for Aggie fans: A&M is averaging 25.6 free-throw attempts per game in conference play. Bad news: A&M is only making 17.4 ppg from the charity stripe.

Last season, the Maroon and White finished the season No. 1 in free-throw attempts, helping guide the Aggies to a second-place finish in the SEC. The Aggies did not start the season shooting many free throws, nowhere near the clip they were the year prior.

Since then however, the Maroon and White have clawed to No. 25 in FTA. Not near their ranking last season, but still tops in the country. However, getting to the line is not what gets the points — making your shots is, something A&M has been significantly worse at.

The Aggies rank 215th in the country in free-throw percentage, only averaging 70.34% from the line. If they want to win games with their tough-nosed, physical style of play, they have to make the easy shots at the charity stripe when they get them.

Getting there more is the first step, but capitalizing is the second. Shooting 11-20 from the free-throw line like the Aggies did against LSU is not a successful recipe, and with a tough SEC gauntlet ahead, A&M will need all the easy points they can get.

 

 

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About the Contributor
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor
Hunter Mitchell is a sport management senior minoring in journalism. Hunter has covered football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, hockey, cross country, track and field, along with swim and dive. Hunter's favorite sport is college basketball, and he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. Hunter also hosts weekly episodes of the Home Turf sports podcast.
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