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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

Trocha-Morelos blocks three to seal A&M’s 56-53 win over Alabama

Trocha-Morelos+attempts+a+shot.
Photo by Photo by Rachel Grant

Trocha-Morelos attempts a shot.

Tonny Trocha-Morelos had more blocks than points, but in the end, that was okay. Trocha-Morelos deflected Braxton Key’s three-point attempt at the buzzer to seal Texas A&M’s 56-53 win over Alabama Saturday night.

Trocha-Morelos tipped a rebound attempt out-of-bounds with 1.3 seconds remaining to give the Crimson Tide (16-12, 9-7 SEC) one last chance to force overtime. His block was redemption at securing a much-needed win for the Aggies (15-12, 9-7 SEC).

“I just saw myself close to [Key] and I said ‘I’m just going to put my hands up,’ Coach Kennedy said no foul [during a timeout before the play] and I’m glad I got the block,” Trocha-Morelos recalled of the play. “When I felt the ball, I just started running to our bench and didn’t want to see the ref calling a foul.”

Fortunately for Trocha-Morelos, the block was clean and A&M came away with the victory.

“I’m not right very often, but I thought whoever got to 50 [points first] would win,” A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “Wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve ever coached, it was that way for 40 minutes.”

Astonishingly enough, A&M was held without a field goal for the final 7:40 of the game. The Aggies, however, cashed in from the foul line, scoring their final nine points of the game from the charity stripe. For the game, A&M was 26-of-37 from the free throw line.

“It came down to it. We shot a lot of free throws – 37. We made 26 of them,” Tyler Davis said, “We’ve been shooting our free throws much better lately as a team. That was real big.”

Both teams struggled mightily from the field with the Aggies shooting 31 percent, while the Tide shot only a few steps up at 33 percent – something Kennedy envisioned happening.

“I was expecting this game, to be honest,” Kennedy noted. “You never want actually to see it, but I’ll see it as long as we came out with a win. It was ugly.”

Alabama played tight while A&M maintained a 27-24 advantage with 15:34 to go in the game, but the Aggies proceeded to turn it on. A&M busted the contest open with a 13-3 run to take a 40-27 lead with 11:56 left in the game – the Aggies’ largest of the game.

The run was capped by a three-pointer from Gilder which electrified the crowd and forced the Tide to call timeout.

Alabama was not good for dead yet though, slowly inching closer before coming within 55-53 after a three-point play by Ar’Mond Davis. That, however, was as the close as the Tide’s comeback-bid would get.

“Give them credit, they fought hard and started figuring out our zone and making threes to get themselves back in the game,” Kennedy added.

While the first 17 minutes of the first half gave A&M fits, a strong close to the period allowed the Aggies to hold a close 21-19 lead at the break.

Admon Gilder provided a spark for the abysmal A&M offense, scoring five straight points to kick-start a 9-2 run to close the half, capped by a monster dunk by Robert Williams with 58 seconds remaining – giving the Aggies their first lead of the game.

A&M made four of its final five field goals of the first half after starting the half 3-of-17 from the field.

“It was a tough start for us. But I think we did a pretty good job regrouping,” Davis said. “The whole game was kind of foggy, it was a weird pace. The way they defended us, they did a whole lot of different things. It was a foggy game, but we handled it and got the win.”

The opening minutes were rough on both sides, but Davis’ lay-in off an Admon Gilder lob cut Alabama’s advantage to 7-5 with 14:31 left in the first half.

But then things began to get ugly for the Aggies.

A&M embarked on a scoring drought of just over six minutes, missing seven straight shots and coughing the ball up four times. The cold spell was finally snapped with Tavario Miller’s put-back layup at the 8:26 mark with the Tide leading 13-7.

Unfortunately for Alabama, the Tide was unable to take advantage of the Aggies’ early woes.

“We were up 13-5 and we had four, five, six, seven possessions where we came up empty,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “A turnover, a missed layup, poor execution, we liked our temperature early in the game. We could have created some more separation had we played better on the offensive end.

“The first halves and the first five to seven, eight, ten minutes of the game is just as important as the last ten minutes of the game, and as I eluded to earlier, we probably need a little more of a cushion earlier in the game. Especially when as much as they got to the free throw line.”

A&M returns this action this Tuesday when it travels to face Missouri with tip-off slated for 6:00 p.m.

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