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Photo by Brianna Hillman, TexAgs
Texas A&M Basketball

Aggies look to strengthen NCAA Tournament resume against Alabama

March 7, 2018

ST. LOUIS —The Aggies need a repeat from Admon Gilder and a repeal from T.J. Starks. If they get both on Thursday in a Southeastern Conference basketball tournament clash with Alabama, they could make a move to improve their seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament.

A&M (20-11) is considered a lock for March Madness. Projections anticipate the Aggies seeded anywhere from sixth to ninth. A fifth seed might not be out of the question if they have a strong showing in the SEC Tournament in St. Louis.

That quest will start with a noon rematch with Alabama (17-14), which A&M defeated 68-66 last Saturday in the regular season finale.

“Winning definitely helps,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “I don’t understand all that seeding. CBS and ESPN have different opinions on where we would be. We just need to try to win the games that we have control of and see what happens.”

Junior center Tyler Davis, who received All-SEC recognition on Tuesday, said the Aggies aren’t taking an NCAA bid for granted.

"We're not going to play like we're in the (NCAA) tournament and don't need to win games. We need to win games right now."
- Tyler Davis

“We’re not going to play like we’re in the (NCAA) tournament and don’t need to win games,” Davis said. “We need to win games right now.”

Alabama needs to win even more. The Crimson Tide are on a five-game slide and desperately need a victory to boost its NCAA hopes. 

Therefore, the Aggies expect Alabama to be just as intense as in the last encounter. In that game, Gilder scored 14 points and on the defensive end limited Alabama guard John Petty to seven points. Petty had scored 18 in an Alabama win over A&M in December. Even more impressive, Gilder did that while playing with a sore knee that’s slowed him down since SEC play began.

“He played well last game,” Kennedy said of Gilder. “He did a really good job on the John Petty kid. We’ve got to use him on both ends of the floor because he’s such a valuable piece for us.”

Starks, a rapidly improving freshman, is also valuable. The Aggies just aren’t sure what they will get from him. He’d scored in double figures in seven games prior to Saturday, but in two games against Alabama, Starks has hit just 2 of 19 field goal attempts.

In the win over the Tide, Starks dished out five assists, but scored just two points, committed four turnovers and drew a late technical foul when he reacted to taunting from Alabama’s Collin Sexton. Sexton scored 13 of his 23 points at the foul line.

Starks' teammates have forgiven him for that mishap.

“He’s a beast. He’s a goon. I love playing with him,” Davis said. “He’s a soldier to me. I love having him on the team.

“TJ got into it a little bit (with Sexton), but he’ll be ready for the next game. I think he’ll be alright. He knows how important those little plays are.”

Brianna Hillman, TexAgs
Starks will try to get back on the right track in the SEC Tournament after having an inconsistent game last weekend against Alabama. 

Davis has a knack for making the big plays. He had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Alabama. However, he needs more help in the paint from sophomore forward Robert Williams, who has scored just 15 points in the last three games combined. Williams played only 18 minutes on Saturday.

“He’s got to get to where he stays out of foul trouble,” Kennedy said. “That’s been his biggest issue. He’s got to get more aggressive and looking to score around the basket. He’s passing the ball out.

“The good thing is we haven’t played our best basketball. Hopefully, we’ll start playing it and it will be with him playing much better than he’s been playing recently.”

If they do play their best basketball the Aggies could make a run at winning the SEC Tournament, which would likely lift them to a five seed next week.

“This time of year you want them to play and have fun and play with confidence,” Kennedy said. “I just want to get better and be more consistent than we’ve been offensively. When we’re making shots we’re tough to beat by anybody we play.”

Discussion from...

Aggies look to strengthen NCAA Tournament resume against Alabama

4,313 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 6 yr ago by BanderaAg956
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Here is how I see it shaking out seed-wise in the NCAAs for the Ags.

  • Ags are looking at a 6-9 seed window
  • Likely a 7 seed at this point

If Ags lose to Bama
  • Still looking at a 6-9 seed window
  • Likely still a 7 seed, possibly an 8 seed.

If Ags beat Bama (and lose to Auburn)
  • Still looking at a 6-9 seed window
  • Still likely a 7 seed, outside shot at a 6 seed

If Ags beat Bama and Auburn (lose to semi-final team)
  • Looking at a 5-8 seed window
  • Likely a 6 seed, outside shot of a 7 seed.

If Ags beat Bama, Auburn and win semi-final game
  • Looking at a 5-8 seed window
  • Likely a 6 seed, outside shot of a 5 seed.

If the Ags win the SEC Tournament
  • Looking a 4-7 seed window
  • Likely a 5 seed, outside shot of bumping up to a 4 seed.

Obviously, how other teams fare is going to be a big factor too, but the ultimate ceiling is a 4 seed if the Ags win the SEC tournament, floor is a 9 seed assuming the Ags drop the game tomorrow against Bama.
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Let's stop looking and start DOING!
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