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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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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Tale of two halves: Aggies overcome 13-point deficit to advance to semifinals

Graduate+G+Dexter+Dennis+%280%29+dunks+the+ball+during+a+game+vs.+Arkansas+on+Friday%2C+March+10%2C+2023+at+Bridgestone+Arena+in+Nashville%2C+Tennessee
Photo by Ishika Samant

Graduate G Dexter Dennis (0) dunks the ball during a game vs. Arkansas on Friday, March 10, 2023 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee

Halfway through the quarterfinal game between No. 10 seed Arkansas and No. 2 seed Texas A&M, HogStats.com tweeted a statistic that stated the Razorbacks have won 78 straight games when they have led by 13 points or more at halftime.
Every winning streak will have to end at some point.
On Friday, March 10, No. 18 A&M overcame a 13-point halftime deficit — for the first time in the history of the SEC Tournament — against Arkansas to advance to its second-straight semifinal against No. 6 seed Vanderbilt tomorrow at 2 p.m.
However, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows for A&M.
From every aspect of the game — other than offensive rebounds — the Aggies struggled.
“When we didn’t turn it over, which wasn’t often, or didn’t get a blocked shot, which wasn’t often, we got an offensive rebound,” coach Buzz Williams said.
A&M won the offensive rebound battle 11 to 3 in the first half. Unfortunately, they lost in every other statistic in the box score. From turnovers to blocked shots, the Aggies struggled to find any momentum in the first half.
“We were not very good in the first half,” Williams said. “Nine turnovers are not good. Nine blocks are not good. The reason they shot 55% is that we gave them the ball 18 times and we never got our defense set.”
The Aggies’ offensive theme this season has been, if their shots aren’t falling, get to the line. However, neither of those options worked in the first half, as they shot only two free throws and connected on only 11 of their 30 shots.
“We weren’t playing Texas A&M basketball,” junior forward Henry Coleman III said.
Besides trailing 38-25 at the end of the half, the Aggies found themselves in an uncomfortable situation as they were on the verge of being sent home in their first game of the SEC Tournament. The Razorbacks’ fast-paced offense had the Aggies disassembled, distraught and dismantled.
“We were just out of sorts,” Williams said. “I told the team [at halftime] I wasn’t necessarily concerned about Arkansas in the second half. I was more concerned about us at least getting into a position to worry about Arkansas.”
And then all of a sudden, they started to play what Coleman would call Texas A&M basketball.
The Aggies got to the free-throw line three times in less than two minutes, following two potential layups from Coleman and one from senior guard Dexter Dennis. After just shooting two in the first half, A&M went on to shoot 22 in the second half.
They continued to control the glass throughout the second half as they out-rebounded the Razorbacks 43 to 26.
“Our ability to get to the free throw line and control the glass in the second half was a huge key,” Coleman said.
Stellar defense from the Aggies resulted in two early Razorback turnovers, 12 total at the end of the game. A&M took advantage of these turnovers and capitalized on the offensive end as they sparked a 15-4 run, 11 of them coming from the 6-foot-8 forward from Richmond, Virginia.
“It really wasn’t the offensive end, it was the defensive end,” Coleman said. “We were able to get three stops in a row … The offense was resolved by our defense … Our guys were playing the passing lanes, taking charges and just doing the stuff Texas A&M is known for and what we practice doing every day.”
Not a single player on the maroon and white roster had double-digit points in the first half. At the end of the game, four players finished with double-digit points. Coleman said their defensive effort and skillful guards set them up with open looks to score.
“To even get to that point we had to get defensive stops,” Coleman said. “If you don’t get defensive stops you can’t really play offense how you want to. I think, starting on the defensive end, we got our confidence from our defense. Our guards have a unique ability to kind of use their ball-handling ability to get downhill and create an unfair advantage for the bigs on the other team.”
With four minutes left in the game, junior forward Andersson “Andy” Garcia found himself on the bench and out the rest of the game with five fouls. This allowed freshman forward Solomon “Solo” Washington to show the people inside Bridgestone Arena what he is capable of.
“He has grown up so much and we’ve been very reliant on Solo and Andy,” Williams said. “Both of those guys were phenomenal in our first game this month… [Solo] has had a very good 40 days of growth from a maturity standpoint. He understands the value of possession and has been very accepting of what we need him to do and has tried not to get outside of those rails.”
With only 45 seconds left to go, Washington would catch an alley-oop pass from senior guard Tyrece Radford and two-hand slam it into the basket to increase the lead to 8 points, the largest lead for them of the night.
A possession later, freshman guard Nick Smith Jr. looked to drive in and score on the New Orleans native.
However, the “5 Star Stoppa” refused.
Washington would force an uncomfortable shot, regain possession of the ball and secure the comeback win for A&M.
“I think some of our guys who came off the bench, Andersson [Garcia], Solomon Washington and [An]Dre Gordon, came with tremendous energy,” Coleman said. “They do stuff that is not quantitative. You’re not going to see it in the box score. Those guys’ energy, how they space the floor on offense is kind of the reason we won today, so credit to those guys.”

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