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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Vanderbilt ends Texas A&M’s season with 79-68 loss

Photo by Abbey Santoro

Emanuel Miller gains possession of the ball and looks to make his next move. 

The Texas A&M men’s basketball’s season came to a conclusion on Wednesday, March 10 as the Aggies lost to Vanderbilt in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
A&M finishes the season at 8-10 and 2-9 in regular season conference play with three straight losses following a month-long break due to COVID-19 and a winter storm. Without the automatic entry into the NCAA Tournament from winning the SEC Tournament, A&M’s season is effectively over. Sophomore forward Emanuel Miller posted his third consecutive 20-point game in the 79-68 loss to the Commodores.
“Every game is life or death,” Miller said. “We took for granted the games we played previous to this game. I wish we could take it back, but we can’t. We’ve got to move forward. Next year, it’s going to be scary.”
A&M struggled with shooting percentages in the first half, making 35.5 percent of shots from the field and only 1-of-12 from three while Vanderbilt shot 48.1 percent from the field and 7-of-18 from deep.
“They had attempted the second most and made the second most in the league, so we knew they would shoot a lot of threes,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “We have to finish the possession with a rebound. Thirty-eight percent of the time, we didn’t do that. To give up as many offensive rebounds as we did, that kind of led to more three-point field goal opportunities for them. I think that was the difference in the game in many respects.”
Senior guards Quenton Jackson and Jay Jay Chandler both put up 10-plus points on the night. Seniors Kevin Marfo and Savion Flagg also made appearances with Marfo only seeing two minutes of playing time and Flagg scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds.
In a normal season the defeat would be a senior’s final game in college; however, the NCAA has made accommodations and will extend an extra year of eligibility to seniors if they choose to use it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m definitely grateful for the season,” freshman guard Hassan Diara said. “Just taking in all the things that I’ve learned this year, it’s been a blessing to be a part of this team. Playing with the seniors for the final time, [Quenton Jackson], Savion [Flagg], Marfo, Jay Jay [Chandler], I’ll always remember them.”
Vanderbilt sophomore guard Scotty Pippen Jr. scored 22 points during the game, including 11 free throws in the second half for 15-of-15 total.
“He can score, he’s crafty with the ball [and] he gets fouled at a high rate,” Williams said. “But what I think he does best, he makes the game easier for his teammates because he draws so much attention. It’s what he does when he doesn’t shoot that hurts you. He was 3-of-17, but those six assists. That’s a very high percentage where he’s creating a shot for somebody else.”
At the final horn, A&M shot 40.9 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc with seven made three-pointers. At one point down 45-32, the Aggies made a 13-0 run to tie the score.
Vanderbilt quickly pulled back ahead and held a two possession lead throughout the rest of the game. Miller said the loss is painful, especially for the senior class, but he has high hopes for next season.
“It’s always exciting,” Miller said. “Everything that has transpired through my life is a blessing. Having the chance to play again next year, why not be excited? This moment right now, it kills, it hurts, but that’s just me getting ready and being excited for next year.”
Williams said the team will take a break for a couple of weeks before preparing for next season.
“We’ve got to get back to work,” Williams said. “We’ve got to diagnose every part of our program. Texas A&M deserves better, we’re going to do better. Whether that’s in the office, whether that’s on the floor, whether that’s in recruiting. We need to start taking steps on the mountain we have to climb.”

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