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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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June 16, 2024

Third straight SEC loss

Freshman+guard+TJ.+Starks+scored+19+points+in+Texas+A%26amp%3BM%26%238217%3Bs+93-81+loss+to+Mississippi+State+University.
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Freshman guard TJ. Starks scored 19 points in Texas A&M’s 93-81 loss to Mississippi State University.

In an important conference matchup Tuesday evening, Texas A&M hoped to get back to their previous winning ways after losing their previous two games. The Aggies faced a quick and dangerous shooting team in Mississippi State. However, the Aggies had trouble finding their footing and fell to the Bulldogs 93-81.
Action started off hot in the matchup with the Bulldogs. The Aggies exploded on offense immediately, going on a 4-0 run and putting up seven points within the paint in the first couple of minutes of play. A&M was led by junior center Tyler Davis and sophomore forward Robert Williams as the Aggies cruised offensively and defensively, holding the Bulldogs to just five points going into the first time out. However, Mississippi State was silently building offense.
Bulldog guard Xavian Stapleton hit two three-point shots, and fellow Bulldogs Aric Holman and Tyson Carter both hit a three each. The Aggies were playing defense well in the paint, holding the Bulldogs to under 50 percent from inside the arc, but could not defend Miss. State on the perimeter.
Miss. State head coach Ben Howland praised his team’s shooting practice effort after the game.
“They’re putting time in and they’re shooting really well, and we expect to shoot how we’ve been shooting,” Howland said.
As the eighth minute in the half came about, the Aggies faced a large “They’re putting time in and they’re shooting really well, and we expect to shoot how we’ve been shooting,” Howland said.
As the eighth minute in the half came about, the Aggies faced a large 10 point deficit.
The Bulldogs were shooting an impressive 50 percent from beyond the arc, and were 59.1 percent in overall shooting. Stapleton was shooting at 100 percent with 14 points at the 7:57 mark, and the Bulldogs were deadly on offense.
Meanwhile, the Aggies were shooting efficiently at 58 percent from the field, and 100 percent from beyond the arc but had only scored 22 points to the Bulldogs’ 33.
A major issue plaguing A&M was struggles at the free throw line. The Aggies were shooting 50 percent from the line, going 7-14. The lack of free throw efficiency cost the team valuable points, and the Bulldogs were able to use this to their advantage.
A&M needed a spark, which they found in freshman guard TJ Starks. Starks, after a lackluster start of going just 1-4 in the first 16 minutes of the game, elevated his play in the last minutes of the half. He improved to 3-6 from the field, and hit a deep and contested three-point shot to close the half, cutting the Bulldog lead to just two points with a halftime score of 41-39.
Williams and Davis started off the second half with a couple of lay-ups and solid rebounding from both. Davis hit a fouled shot to tie the Bulldogs at 41 points, but missed his free throw. Following this offensive production, it would be Starks once again who would get things going.
Starks hit another deep contested three at the 16:15 mark and then immediately followed that with a lay-up in transition. With this kind of explosive start, the Aggies were looking to retake control of the game.
Despite this renewed energy, the Bulldogs stayed in control. As the half continued, Miss. State seemed to have an answer for all of A&M’s success.
Bulldog guard Quinndary Weatherspoon said he believed Miss. State’s quickness and agility were huge factors in the game.
“I think we did a good job on both defense and offense of using our quickness to get to the basket,” Weatherspoon said.
At the eight-minute mark in the second half, the Bulldogs led the Aggies 73-59 and never looked back, maintaining a deadly three-point game and solid play.
Miss. State scored 44 points in the paint, with solid play from their forward and centers, including center Abdul Ado, who accounted for 16 points.
The game came to a close in favor of Miss. State with a final score of 93-81.
Davis said a lack of effort and lackluster rebounding contributed to the loss.
“We just didn’t put in the effort on defense, and on the glass; they beat us by 13 rebounds,” Davis said.
Poor defensive play from the Aggies, combined with blown scoring opportunities, were the eventual downfall of the team.
The Bulldogs dominated the Aggies in areas such as bench production, points off of turnovers and free throw shooting, finishing 79 percent compared to the Aggies’ 56 percent.
A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said defense was a struggle for the evening.
“On the defensive end we need to do better, and that’s my job,” Kennedy said.
After this game, A&M has now lost three straight as they go into the final three games of the season before the SEC tournament. Their record falls to 17-11 overall and 6-9 in conference play.
The Aggies travel to Nashville, Tennessee this week to face the Vanderbilt Commodores this Saturday at 3 p.m.

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