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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Takeaways from A&M’s pre-Missouri press conference

Head+coach+Buzz+Williams+smiles+as+the+team+shoots+a+3-pointer+during+a+game+against+A%26amp%3BM+Kingsville+at+Reed+Arena+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+4%2C+2022.

Head coach Buzz Williams smiles as the team shoots a 3-pointer during a game against A&M Kingsville at Reed Arena on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.

On Friday, Feb. 17, the media was expected to sit down with junior guard Hayden Hefner and Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams. Unfortunately for the listeners, only the latter was available for the pre-game press conference.
On the upside, he provided the receivers with the Aggies’ plan to approach a 15,000-fan-packed Mizzou Arena, an injury update on sophomore guard Manny Obaseki and how they prepared for the matchup with such minimal time.
Here’s what we learned:
Mizzou Arena
Located in the heart of Columbia, Mo., Mizzou Arena has ascended to be one of the most intense atmospheres in college basketball this season. With 16 games played in the arena this season, only two opponents have escaped victorious.
“Missouri is 14 and 2 [at home], they lost to Alabama and they lost to Kansas,” Williams said.
The majority of the wins came from mid-major conferences or SEC opponents who rank at the bottom of the totem pole. However, a couple of them came from No. 19 Iowa State and a Kentucky team that A&M struggled against when they visited Rupp Arena on Jan. 21.
With more guards than the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Missouri prides itself on its ability to run the floor and pull from anywhere from behind the arc with the number of ball handlers and scorers it has in its arsenal.
“[The Tigers] are way better than they were when we played them the first week of January” Williams said. “You can tell they are doing a lot of the same things but much more fluent, much more efficient, much faster and much more effective. At home their last three games, they made 12, 13 and 14 3-pointers in each of those three games … I think in SEC play, 44% of their shots have been from 3 and 48% of their possessions are in transition.”
Similar to A&M, Mizzou Arena was not always known for its ability to pack the stands on a weekly basis. It wasn’t until Missouri coach Dennis Gates stepped on campus for the first time this offseason when things turned for the better for the Tigers.
“I think their coach has been tremendous in putting a team in year number one to play to their strengths and you can tell,” Williams said. “The crowd has completely changed in their arena this season similar to how the crowd has changed here in the last month. It’s electric.”
The gap
The last time the two conference teams competed, the Aggies hoisted a 10-5 overall record, a 2-0 conference record and was on the verge for its third consecutive SEC win of the season.
“I had to go through all of my stuff initially to recalibrate my brain on some of the things we were talking about and some of the things we prepared for,” Williams said.
Just a day earlier than A&M’s 62-56 win at home against Arkansas on Wednesday, Feb. 15, Missouri lost substantially to Auburn on the road 89-56. However, the Tigers have had three days, one more day than the Aggies, to prepare for the matchup.
In order to construct the perfect game plan with minimal time, Williams asked his players a certain question at practice on Thursday, Feb. 16.
“‘Tell me what you remember,’” Williams said.
What they and many people who witnessed the game in-person or on television remembered was an 18-point victory against the Tigers in Reed Arena.
However, this matchup won’t come as easy for the Aggies because over the month-long span, Missouri returned senior guard Isiaih Mosley from the injured reserve and more games under their belt. So, some altercations were required at the limited number of practices the Aggies had.
“They are so unique in how they play, you kind of have to alter how you practice,” Williams said. “You are trying to imitate, to some degree the best you can, what they do … They have really good players and their style of play is unique to anybody in the SEC.”
Injury update
Fortunately for the Aggies, a return is now inevitable for a guard of their own. Sophomore Manny Obaseki had his cast removed and is set to return to the lineup in the next couple of weeks, Williams said.
“He has been released,” Williams said. “He is able to do some skill work now. He is doing the first 10 to 15% of practice. It is just a stair step relative to the medical protocol… Today was his first day doing ‘Shooting with Buzz.’ He missed it last week. He had another hand appointment. We will see how it all plays out over the next couple of weeks.”

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