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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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Where the magic happens

Photo by Kyle Heise

Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) laughs with sophomore F Solomon Washington (13) and the rest of the team during Texas A&M’s game against Oral Roberts in Reed Arena on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023.

It’s Feast Week, and that means college basketball teams from around the country will head to non-conference tournaments all the way from Charleston, South Carolina to Maui, Hawai’i.
Texas A&M men’s basketball is no different and are slated to play in one of the toughest tournaments in the country: the ESPN Events Invitational.
Six of the eight teams in the invitational made the NCAA tournament last season in A&M, FAU, VCU, Penn State, Boise State and Iowa State. One of the other teams, Virginia Tech, is coach Buzz Williams’ last stop before coming to A&M.
The Aggies will be matched up in the first round against the team that knocked them out of the NCAA tournament last season, Penn State.
The Nittany Lions blew out the Maroon and White last year, coasting to a 76-59 victory off the back of Andrew Funk and Jalen Pickett combined for 46 points and 9-12 from behind the arch.
Luckily for the Aggies, Penn State had major turnover in the offseason. In addition to losing its entire starting five, the Nittany Lions lost head coach Micah Shrewsberry to Notre Dame. In his stead, Penn State brought in VCU’s Mike Rhoades. Following Rhoades from VCU is senior guard Ace Baldwin Jr. and junior G Nick Kern Jr.
After averaging just 3.7 points per game last season, sophomore G Kanye Clary has erupted in his starting role for Penn State, leading the Nittany Lions with 17.5 points per game.
In the second round, A&M will be matched up with the winner of Butler/Florida Atlantic.
The Owls are fresh off of their Final-Four run last season where they knocked off Memphis, Fairleigh Dickinson, Tennessee and Kansas State before falling to San Diego State.
This season, FAU returns almost all of its production from last season, with juniors in G Johnell Davis, G Alijah Martin and center Vladislav Goldin leading the charge.
Despite starting last season on a 24-game winning streak, the Owls have already suffered their first loss of the season, falling to the 2-3 Bryant Bulldogs, 61-52.
Facing off against FAU in the first round is the Butler Bulldogs. Butler has had a rough go of things in recent years, with its last winning season in 2019 and its last tournament appearance in 2018.
In 2023, the Bulldogs lost four double-digit scorers from the year prior. To replace them, Butler brought in six transfers, including senior St. John’s transfer G Posh Alexander.
For Butler, junior G and Michigan State transfer Pierre Brooks II leads a balanced Bulldogs attack with 13.2 points per game. Three other Bulldogs average double digits in Alexander, senior Northeastern transfer Guard Jahmyl Telfort and senior UC-Irvine transfer G DJ Davis.
Elsewhere in the tournament, other dark horse championship teams include Iowa State, a young team led by freshman forward Milan Momcilovic and Boise State, which returns three starters from its tournament team.
The Aggies have not won a non-conference tournament since 2017, when the Aggies won the Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn, New York with a 98-87 victory over none other than Penn State.
The Maroon and White will open the first round on Thursday, Nov. 23 at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida at 11 a.m.

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