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Photo by Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M Basketball

Taylor's nearly-heroic 34 points not enough to knock off No. 4 Houston

December 16, 2023
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HOUSTON — Facing a 21-point deficit, it was a long shot Texas A&M could even challenge Houston on Saturday.

Fortunately, for the Aggies, Wade Taylor IV hit a lot of long shots to lead a furious A&M rally.

Alas, Houston’s Emanuel Sharp added a clutch long shot of his own to help the No. 4 Cougars (11-0) deal A&M (7-4) a 70-66 college basketball loss at the Toyota Center.

The Aggies — who were playing without starting guard Tyrece “Boots” Radford — were plagued by turnovers in the first half. Houston capitalized on the miscues to open up a 38-23 halftime lead.

“We just got a little out of sorts,” Taylor said. “We turned it over eight times in the first half. That was the focus in the second half. Limit the turnovers.”

The Aggies only committed three turnovers in the second half but still fell behind 53-32 when Houston’s Jamal Shead hit a floater with 15:39 remaining.

Right after that shot went down, the Aggies — Taylor in particular — fired up.

Taylor, who scored 26 of his game-high 34 points in the second half, began to lead an almost miraculous charge that brought a nervous pro-Cougars crowd of 12,152 to its feet in the waning minutes.

“When our backs against the wall, we’re not going to back up. We’re going to be right in the middle of the room, and we’re going to keep punching and punching and punching until there is zero on the clock.”
- A&M forward Henry Coleman III

The slippery guard scored eight points in a 12-0 run to cut the margin to nine.

Later, he hit a trio of 3-pointers and converted a conventional 3-point play in a six-minute stretch that gave the Aggies an improbable opportunity to pull out a victory.

A strong defensive effort was a factor, too.

Houston shot 53.6 percent from the field in the first half, but the Aggies limited the Cougars to 33.3 percent in the second.

Defense played a key role in a 10-3 run in which Taylor scored all A&M’s points. He completed that run by taking a pass from Andersson Garcia and drilled a 3-pointer with 1:30 left to forge a 63-63 tie.

“We shut their offense down for a long time. Then Buzz (Williams) did the smart thing: He quit running his offense,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Nothing was working, so he just gives it to Taylor and says, ‘Go be a hero.’ And he was.

“He was making hard shots, man. Those were hard, difficult shots.”

The Aggies desperately needed Taylor’s heroics. No other Aggies managed more than seven points, an issue that proved costly in the final minute.

But while Taylor hit six times from behind the arc in the second half, he maintained the reduction in turnovers was key to the rally.

Williams agreed.

“I thought we turned the ball over too much in the first half that led to transition layups for them,” Williams said. ”I thought, in the second half, we didn’t necessarily shoot the ball better, but we shot more balls, and we shot more free throws because we didn’t turn the ball over.

“I think they’re interconnected. Entering today’s game, we were No. 1 in offensive rebounding percentage, so when we turn the ball over, the best part of what we do offensively we don’t even get a chance at.”

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
In addition to his offensive output, Taylor had a trio of steals.

However, Houston demonstrated its ability to make clutch plays, too.

The Cougars’ Ja’Vier Francis got open for a dunk, and Sharp — who led Houston with 21 points — hit a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 68-63 lead with 29 seconds left.

Taylor answered with a deep 3-pointer, but A&M’s chance to again pull even came up short when Henry Coleman III missed two free throws with 5.8 seconds to go.

Sharp then hit two free throws to end the scoring.

But the Aggies gleaned encouragement from their comeback against a top-five opponent.

“That’s what A&M is about,” Coleman said. “I think our team … everybody has a story. Everybody has something to prove. Everybody plays with a chip on their shoulder.

“So when our backs against the wall, we’re not going to back up. We’re going to be right in the middle of the room, and we’re going to keep punching and punching and punching until there is zero on the clock.”

Discussion from...

Taylor's nearly-heroic 34 points not enough to knock off No. 4 Houston

4,767 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by RaggedConverge
Lake08
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"Nearly" sums up our athletic program
RaggedConverge
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AG
Thanks OB.
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