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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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Three seniors, four freshmen and transfers on display for 2015-16 season

Texas A&M Men’s Basketball

The Texas A&M basketball team gets the regular season underway this Friday night at Reed Arena against South Carolina-Upstate in the first ever meeting between the two programs. 

“It is exciting to finally get to start playing games,” A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “We’ve got a good test playing against a good South Carolina-Upstate team coached by a veteran coach … We’ll be missing Jalen Jones … It will give our young guys a chance to play early on.”

USC-Upstate head coach Eddie Payne enters his 30th season at the helm. The Spartans finished last season 24-13 and third overall in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They advanced to the second round of the College Basketball Invitational in the postseason. 

Junior forward Michael Buchanan is the only returning starter for USC-Upstate, and last season he averaged 8.1 points per game and 5.8 rebounds. As a team, the Spartans lost their two leading scorers and leading rebounder from last season. 

After A&M got hot during SEC play last year, the Aggies stumbled to the finish line and just missed the cut for the NCAA Tournament with a 21-12, 11-7 in SEC record.

They return the main pieces to the puzzle from last year in Alex Caruso, Danuel House and Jalen Jones, who will miss the first four games because of NCAA rules on last year’s transfer.

A&M also has some new faces on the team who are expected to have an immediate impact. Freshmen D.J. Hogg, Elijah Thomas, Admon Gilder and Tyler Davis will all see playing time in their first season, and a few of them could be starters come Friday night.  Coach Kennedy said this year has been a good combination of younger and older guys.

“It’s been a good mix, but really because our freshmen have come in with a lot of hype but have responded to listening to our seniors and following them,” Kennedy said. “You worry about that. I was worried about that, and we still haven’t played any games but they’ve done a good job of recognizing Alex Caruso, Jalen and Kyle Dobbins — even as a walk-on. The impact that those guys have made on them, just doing it the right way.”

House, named to the preseason all-SEC first team, returns as A&M’s leading scorer from last year, averaging 14.8 points per game and shot 41 percent from the floor. He is surrounded by returning SEC assists leader Alex Caruso — who dished out 5.5 per game last season — and led the conference in assists for the second straight season. Caruso was also named to the preseason second team all-SEC squad. 

Senior point guard Anthony Collins is another player to watch for on Friday. The transfer from South Florida makes his debut as an Aggie, and his versatility gives the Aggies another form of speed on the floor. Like Caruso, Collins led his conference in assists last season — but for the AAC.

“We’ve got 11 players on scholarship and I was telling one of my assistant coaches, ‘All of them are going to play,’” Kennedy said. “I don’t know who. It’s been a different guy every day, but all 11 I think are framed for playing time and no one can relax. Our seniors obviously have a leg up just for being seniors.”

The Aggies and Spartans will both get their regular seasons underway at 8:30 pm on Friday night. The game will air on the SEC Network Plus channel.

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