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

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Texas A&M fans react after The Aggies win the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Sunday, June 9, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Aggies prepare for road matchup with SEC goliath Auburn

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Sophomore guard Hayden Hefner attempts a layup.

On the night of Oct. 2, 2021, the Texas A&M football team was in shambles after falling to 0-2 in SEC play with a home loss to unranked Mississippi State. Just one Saturday later, that same A&M team would dethrone the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Moments after the score was final, a tsunami of students flooded the field. In an instant, all of the criticism that haunted the program vanished in the maroon stampede covering the turf.
Just a few months later, men’s basketball has the chance to repeat that moment.
On Saturday, Feb. 12, A&M will travel to Auburn, Ala., to take on the No. 1 Auburn Tigers.
After a 15-2 start to the season, the wheels have fallen off for the Aggies. The squad has dropped its last seven SEC games to fall to 15-9 overall and 4-7 in SEC play. Four of those seven losses have been by two possessions or less, and the largest margin of defeat was a mere 11 points.
Most recently, the Aggies suffered a 76-68 loss at home against the LSU Tigers. With the score tied at 11 in the opening half, A&M surrendered a 25-5 run and went into the half with a 36-16 deficit. In the second half, the Aggies seemed to work out some of their issues, but late efficiency from the free-throw line helped the Tigers fend off a late comeback.
Following the loss, A&M coach Buzz Williams said the game was a story of two halves, adding that the inconsistency of effort in the game’s early stages shows that he needs to improve as a coach.
“That’s a reflection on me,” Williams said. “I have to do a better job so that we are playing with the energy required from start to finish.”
The Aggies have found offensive productivity through several different players throughout the season. Graduate guard Quenton Jackson leads the scoring off the bench with 13 points per game, and sophomore forward 
Henry Coleman III adds another 11 points per game on average. After receiving limited playing time in the first half of the season, sophomore guard Hayden Hefner shot 5-for-6 from deep in a loss against Missouri, but was held to only one point in 14 minutes against LSU.
Auburn heads into the matchup with a nearly flawless resume. The juggernaut ranked No. 1 in the most recent AP poll with a 22-2 record and has registered statement wins against LSU, Alabama and Kentucky.
While Auburn has been a force this season, its recent outings have shown signs of weakness. On Feb. 5, the Tigers squeaked by Georgia with a 74-72 win. They followed the uninspiring performance with their second blemish of the season: an 80-76 loss on the road against Arkansas.
After the upset to the Razorbacks, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said over the past two games, his squad has lacked the teamwork and chemistry necessary to make a Final Four contender.
“For us, it’s always the sum of our parts when we play well,” Pearl said. “When we don’t — how it’s been the past two games — there’s two or three guys that are carrying us. We need more balance, and for one reason or another, we didn’t have it.”
Although Auburn is coming off a rough patch on the road, there is no reason to believe the Tigers will not find their stride back home. They tout some of the most intense scorers in the country, with four players all averaging double digits in points. Senior forward Jabari Smith leads the pack, averaging 15.5 per contest including a lethal 43.3% from deep. Senior forward Walker Kessler is a force on both sides of the floor, scoring 11.6 points per game and ranking second in the nation in blocks, averaging 4.22 per game.
Williams acknowledged Auburn’s talent and experience will be no small challenge for the Aggies, but a competitive performance would be an indicator of what the team is capable of down the stretch of the season.
“[Playing Auburn] will be another great test to see if we can respond from an energy standpoint,” Williams said. “You can argue that they are the most talented team in the country with the most NBA prospects. All of that is good because it will give us a gauge. The ambience and environment, will it change us in a good way or a bad way?”
The matchup will take place at Auburn Arena on Feb. 12. Tip-off is slated for 11 a.m.

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