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No. 24 Texas A&M staves off comeback bid by Ole Miss for 14th SEC win

February 28, 2023
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A vital steal, a big dunk and some clutch free throws enabled Texas A&M to withstand a barrage of 3-pointers to capture a 69-61 Southeastern Conference basketball victory at Ole Miss on Tuesday night.

With the victory, Texas A&M (22-8, 14-3) clinched at least the #2 seed in the SEC postseason basketball tournament next week.

The Aggies also maintain hopes of gaining the #1 seed and a share of the SEC championship. That would require No. 2 Alabama losing to Auburn on Wednesday night and then falling at Texas A&M on Saturday.

The Aggies had to overcome their own missteps and the 3-point shooting of Ole Miss guard Matthew Murrell to put themselves in that position.

Murrell hit eight treys en route to a game-high 26 points. His final triple brought Ole Miss (11-19, 3-14) within 63-59 with 3:42 to play.

More than two minutes later, Ole Miss was looking to decrease that precarious two-point lead.

That’s when Andersson Garcia stole a pass near mid-court and parlayed the turnover into a breakaway dunk for a 66-59 lead.

“Considering the last three games we’ve had a turnover problem, our guys responded to what we’ve been talking about in that regard. In a game that they (Ole Miss) wanted to play in transition, I thought us controlling time, score and momentum was fantastic.”
- A&M head coach Buzz Williams

The Rebels cut the margin back to four, 65-61, on a Jaemyn Brakefield layup with 47 seconds to play.

But Andre Gordon and Wade Taylor IV combined to hit four free throws in the final seconds to clinch the victory.

They were also strong on the boards to help ease the loss of senior guard Dexter Dennis, who sat out with a knee injury.

“Dre had six defensive rebounds, eight total. Four (Taylor) had four defensive rebounds, five total,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “Those two guys had 10 of our 24 rebounds.

“Dex is our leading rebounder. Yes, we’ve got to make up his points. Yes, we’ve got to figure out his minutes. But we’ve got to figure out the glass because he does so much for us on both ends.”

The 14 conference wins are the most by A&M since the 1979-80 team finished 14-2 in the Southwest Conference.

A&M reached the milestone despite an erratic shooting performance.

The Aggies hit just 37.9 percent (25-of-66) and converted only 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from 3-point range.

They compensated by forcing 18 turnovers, which led to 18 points. They also outscored Ole Miss inside the paint 36-14. The Aggies had 16 offensive rebounds and 22 second-chance points.

A&M also committed just five turnovers.

“Considering the last three games we’ve had a turnover problem, our guys responded to what we’ve been talking about in that regard,” Williams said. “In a game that they (Ole Miss) wanted to play in transition, I thought us controlling time, score and momentum was fantastic.”

Tyrece Radford led A&M with 13 points, while Taylor had 12 and Julius Marble II 10.

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV nearly registered a double-double with 12 points and seven assists. 

It almost wasn’t enough. Ole Miss took advantage of the absence of Dennis, a defensive ace, to hit a dozen shots from 3-point range.

The Rebels hit four triples in the first seven minutes to roar out to a 20-8 lead.

However, A&M responded with a 14-0 run. The Aggies later closed the first half with a 12-2 run to take a 34-28 lead at the break.

The Aggies built double-digit leads in the second half but struggled to maintain the advantage.

Taylor hit a free throw to stake A&M to a 42-32 lead with 16:30 showing.

A&M missed its next 10 shots, though. Ole Miss capitalized on the drought to pull within 42-40 on a 3-pointer by guard TJ Caldwell.

Freshman Solomon Washington scored a dunk off an offensive rebound to end that cold spell and reboot A&M’s offense.

The Aggies were able to extend their lead to 11 points, 57-46, on a dunk by Marble with 7:49 remaining.

Murrell answered a 3-pointer that started an Ole Miss comeback bid.

He later hit consecutive 3-pointers to bring the Rebels within, 63-59.

Ole Miss had more chances to get closer. But Brakefield missed a 3-pointer that could’ve cut the A&M lead to one. On the next possession, he missed a dunk that could’ve cut A&M’s lead to two points.

On Ole Miss’ next possession, Garcia intercepted Caldwell’s pass for Brakefield and scored the vital dunk that enabled the Aggies to pull away.

Discussion from...

No. 24 Texas A&M staves off comeback bid by Ole Miss for 14th SEC win

4,489 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by citizenkane06
rondis23
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AG
Great write up as always OB. Now go get some rest...that GO Hour is gona be fun in the morning!
citizenkane06
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AG
Started out slow, but got it together!
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