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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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Texas A&M men’s basketball presents defensive teamwork in season opener

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Seconds left in the game, freshman Henry Coleman III dunks the ball for the last points of the game.

The men of Texas A&M basketball are forming their own identity as a team.

On Wednesday, Nov. 10, Texas A&M men’s basketball kicked off its season with a 64-46 win over North Florida.

Serving as interim head coach is third-year assistant coach Devin Johnson. Head coach Buzz Williams was suspended due to violations of NCAA rules and will not return as head coach until Sunday, Nov. 15, against A&M-Corpus Christi. The North Florida win became Johnson’s head coaching debut and junior guard Tyrece Radford said he was elated to get him a win. 

“He is the guy that recruited me to come here,” Radford said. “To see him get his first career win as a head coach, it’s big for him and it’s big for the team, too.”

Before Wednesday’s game, only six players had ever played a regular-season game with Texas A&M written across their chests, and the team is still learning each other’s in-game playstyle. 

Making a mark early on, sophomore forward Henry Coleman III started with an aggressive break off the tip, getting fouled on the way up. The Duke transfer wasted no time, documenting eight of A&M’s first 13 points. Shortly after, North Florida responded, sinking two 3-pointers and two dunks to tie the game, 13-all.

Consistent layups from both the Aggies and Ospreys raised the score to 21-20. Defensively, Radford stood up and stood out, swatting the ball to block a North Florida layup. Following the defensive stand, the matchup quickly turned into a confrontational, defensive battle. Neither team scored for the next three minutes, but three A&M fouls guided North Florida to the free-throw line. North Florida junior forward Carter Hendrickson’s free throws took their first lead of the game, 23-21. 

However, Coleman’s swift breaks stole back the lead while showing off his athleticism and size. Coleman finished with 27 points in his first career start as an Aggie and said he and his teammates are ready for anything thrown at them.

“We had stretches where we might have not played well, but this group … plays very hard,” Coleman said. “We have a hungry group, and a lot of these guys are playing with a chip on their shoulder.”

An abundance of fouls from both sides kept sending either opponent to the free-throw line, continuing to up the score. Freshman guard Wade Taylor IV leaped out on a fast break with a pass to senior forward Ethan Henderson to secure control at the half, 36-32.

In the second, Radford and the A&M defense persisted with its scrappy style of play, forcing 29 total turnovers and holding off the Ospreys to only 14 points in the second half. Despite that, the Aggies were not able to substantially capitalize on their defensive efforts. The Aggies made 24 of 65 shots taken and Radford said missed shots restricted this team from taking a greater lead.

“We didn’t do well shooting the ball tonight,” Radford said. “We’re going to continue to get in the gym and work on that.”

Following the slow start, momentum began to sway in A&M’s direction, consistently holding its lead toward the end of the game. Junior guard Andre Gordan and sophomore guard Marcus Williams each sank back-to-back three-pointers, with two minutes left to play, and two jumpers from Coleman finalized the match, 64-46.

Johnson said, looking forward, the Aggies need to focus on finishing the drive before moving on to the next.

“We have to guard the ball and stay in our drive,” Johnson said. “Going into Abilene Christian, they have three guards that can get downhill and make plays for each other. [Tonight], our guys got tired and that’s when the discipline level started to lower. I think we have more to give.”

The Aggies will host ACU, 0-1, on Friday, Nov. 12, at Reed Arena.

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