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Texas A&M Basketball

These Aggies belong: A&M bolsters NCAA resume with upset of Auburn

March 11, 2022
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TAMPA — The jerseys are the same. The numbers are the same. The names are the same.

Clearly, the guys in Texas A&M basketball uniforms aren’t the same.

These Aggies (22-11, 9-9) shoved top-seeded Auburn (27-5, 15-3) out of the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament with a 67-62 upset victory on Friday at Amalie Arena.

These Aggies play Arkansas Saturday at 12 p.m. in the SEC Tournament semifinals. 

“I think the resilience of this team and the fight that this team has and everything that we have been through earlier in the season prepared us for everything that's happening now.”
- A&M guard Quenton Jackson

These can’t be the same Aggies who were blown out by Auburn, 75-58, a month ago.

Those Aggies were mired in an eight-game losing streak. They often failed at pivotal moments with the game hanging in the balance.

These Aggies have now posted six consecutive victories and are making the knack for coming through in the clutch.

Quenton Jackson made a series of clutch plays in the final minutes to hold off a furious Auburn rally — much like they held off a furious Florida rally in an 83-80 overtime victory on Thursday

“We look for a dog fight,” junior guard Tyrece “Boots” Radford said. “We don’t expect nothing to be easy. We just have to keep playing our ball all the way down to the last buzzer.”

That’s what they did. That’s what they’ve done.

“I think the resilience of this team and the fight that this team has and everything that we have been through earlier in the season prepared us for everything that's happening now,” Jackson said. “I don't think we’re coming into any game thinking that we're going to lose or anything like that.

“Our heads are held high, and just the confidence that this team comes in the game, whoever we're playing against. No matter what the odds are, what the line is, whatever it is, we just know we have to come out there and fight, and that's the only way you can win.”

That’s who these Aggies are.

These Aggies should be judged by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Not those Aggies from a month ago.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrece Radford led a trio of Aggies in double-digits with 19 points and eight rebounds.

On Sunday, the selection committee will reveal the 68 teams in the NCAA field. The Aggies are on the proverbial “bubble” — meaning they’re not sure if they’ll be included or not.

That uncertainty stems from the eight-game losing streak. That cannot be erased, but the committee should consider what the Aggies are, not what they were.

So much has happened in the last month. Roster changes. Position changes. Attitude changes. 

In this last month, the Aggies have twice beaten Florida, blew out then-No. 25 Alabama on its home court and now have vanquished Auburn — the regular-season SEC champion, a projected NCAA #2 seed and a legitimate national-championship contender.

They did it with style.

Led by Redford and an energetic defensive effort, the Aggies roared out to a 37-21 halftime lead.

They focused their defensive effort inside to limit 7-foot-1 Auburn center Walker Kessler and dared the Tigers to attack from three-point range. Auburn took that dare and hit only 3-of-20 three-point attempts in the first half.

The Aggies didn’t slow down in the second half. They stretched the margin to 53-33 after Radford hit a jumper over Kessler with 11:13 remaining.

But as Radford mentioned, nothing comes easy.

The Tigers hit a half dozen three-pointers in the last seven minutes to stage a comeback.

Consecutive deep three-pointers by guard Wendell Green cut A&M’s lead to 60-55 with just over two minutes left.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dominant on the inside, Henry Coleman III posted a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double. 

In times of adversity, head coach Buzz Williams often tells the Aggies to go to their ‘R’ — which is to react or respond.

They found their ‘R’ by going to their ‘Q’.

Jackson interrupted the Auburn rally with a spectacular dunk off an assist from Henry Coleman III. A few seconds later, Jackson made perhaps an even greater play on the defensive end.

Jackson lost the basketball to Zep Jasper but chased him down to emphatically block Jasper’s layup.

“I was about to get downhill. He (Jasper) moved out of the way and stole it,” Jackson said." I knew at that point of the game with time, score and momentum that I had to make up for it.

“I think Wade (Taylor) was the get-back. Wade was playing centerfield because #1 (Green) was on the opposite wing, so you know he was going to skip it.

“I think when #12 (Jasper) seen he had a wide-open layup, I kind of just watched him set up for it. I knew I had to go through the glass to get it just to try to make a play to make up for my mistake.”

Despite that defensive gem, Auburn pulled within 62-58 on a three-pointer by Jabari Smith with 37 seconds to play.

However, Jackson converted five-of-six free throws the rest of the way to send A&M into the SEC Tournament semifinals — and perhaps into the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson scored A&M’s last points but said he was not looking to take over.

“I never go out there thinking I need to be the hero,” he said. “I have all the trust and confidence in my guys. I don’t care who shoots the ball as long as it’s going in.”

Radford led A&M with 19 points. Coleman posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor IV had nine.

Smith scored 17, Kessler had 16, and Green had 15 for Auburn. The Tigers had 18 offensive rebounds but only parlayed them into 13 points.

“They just beat one of the best teams in the country and beat us from start to finish and should not leave any doubt as to whether or not they belong. I've just been doing this for 40 years. I know what teams look like who deserve to be in.”
- Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl 

Some may still doubt A&M deserves a place in the NCAA field even though Kentucky coach John Calipari opined that any team which finished 9-9 in the SEC regular-season deserves to be included.

“I think what coach Cal said on Sunday is right,” Williams said. “We’ve won two games since then. Is that enough? I don’t know. The reason I don’t know if I am wise enough to understand that if we would not have won seven of our last eight games it would not even be a conversation.

"What does the committee think of that? I don’t know, but I do know we get to play again tomorrow.”

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl would vehemently argue with anyone doubting A&M.

“They just beat one of the best teams in the country and beat us from start to finish, and should not leave any doubt as to whether or not they belong,” Pearl said. “I've just been doing this for 40 years. I know what teams look like who deserve to be in. 

“That team does.”

These Aggies do.

Discussion from...

These Aggies belong: A&M bolsters NCAA resume with upset of Auburn

4,763 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by citizenkane06
TheChameleon
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AG
Massive win. Beyond impressed with the tenacity of this group, it's truly amazing they're in this spot considering they lost 8 in a row... Just spectacular. ESPN is claiming they might have more work to do to get in the tourney but I don't buy that at all, I think they're in, no doubt.

What else can be said about Jackson? Dude has taken it to another level. Winning plays at the end. Radford also. His improvement from the 3 point line over the course of the year is crazy. So glad this guy transferred here. Other guys solid today. Diarra's defense, Taylor 7 rebounds, Coleman was a badass. He has really learned to use his strength and has raised his game multiple levels.

Hate to keep bringing up Hefner, but a little surprised he sat the second half... Was the initial guy off the bench in the first. Maybe Buzz doesn't even fully know what to make of him at times. The box score kinda belies things, looked more like himself than yesterday. 3 attempt was pure just a hair short, defense was fine, boxed out, couple good passes & actually blew by Smith on a drive. Did have 1 silly foul. He was definitely out of sorts against Florida but looked more normal in the short spurts today.

No matter how you slice it though this is a pretty special run they're on now. Was kinda hoping to get another crack at LSU but beating Arkansas again would be just as good of a win. Just getting to this point is awesome considering what they had to come back from... Coaches & players deserve a ton of credit.
sharpdressedman
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Wow! Great article about a tremendous, milestone victory. Heartiest congratulations to the players and coaches for distinguishing yourselves on the big stage against a legitimate national championship contender! BTHO Arkansas!
citizenkane06
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