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Buzz Williams
Carter & Taylor
Chris Beard
Texas A&M Basketball

Free-throw woes lead to an A&M meltdown against Ole Miss, 71-68

January 27, 2024

The downside of being hot is that it can lead to a meltdown.

That was the case for Texas A&M, which twice faltered down the stretch in a 71-68 Southeastern Conference basketball loss to Ole Miss on Saturday night.

The Aggies, which had a nine-point lead melt away at the end of the first half, couldn’t protect a 7-point lead in the final three-and-a-half minutes, much to the disappointment of a spirited crowd of 12,610 at Reed Arena.

Those late meltdowns left the Aggies (12-8, 3-4) lamenting what could have been had they performed a little better, especially at the foul line. They converted just 12-of-22 free throws.

“You can always point to a myriad of different things,” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “We need to shoot a higher percentage from the free-throw line. We are committed to doing that. We’ve been working at that every single day as a team and individually.

“Our guys have been great in that regard, but you’re fighting such an invisible margin. To be up seven in a game like this with four minutes to play, you need to win, but if you shoot 22 free throws, you need to make more than 12.”

Instead, Ole Miss (17-3, 4-3) made the clutch plays in crunch time.

“You can always point to a myriad of different things. We need to shoot a higher percentage from the free-throw line. We are committed to doing that. We’ve been working at that every single day as a team and individually.”
- A&M head coach Buzz Williams

The Rebels converted 9-of-9 free throws and hit four of their last five field goal attempts to rally from the seven-point deficit in the closing moments.

“I told the guys at halftime this isn’t a stat sheet game,” Ole Miss coach Chris Beard said. “It’s just every possession go out there and fight and scrap. You’re playing against a real good team. So, I was proud of our players.”

Beard was surely proudest of guard Jaylen Murray, who had a team-high16 points and drained a 3-pointer from the top-of-the-key to give Ole Miss a 65-62 lead with 21.5 seconds left.

“That was late in the clock, too,” Williams pointed out. “Prior to the shot, we played it all right. We had defended the action. Now it’s just a one-on-one ISO. Jace (Carter) had his hands up. It was a contested shot. Good shot by (Murray).”

Wade Taylor IV, who scored 30, did all he could to give the Aggies a chance to pull out a win.

He hit a deep 3-pointer to bring A&M within 67-66 with 10 seconds left. He had two free throws with 7.4 seconds showing to keep the Aggies within 69-68.

But Ole Miss converted 6-of-6 free throws in the final 15 seconds to keep A&M at bay.

A&M made just one of its final five field goal attempts. That was in stark contrast to how the Aggies started.

They bucked a recent trend of slow starts by hitting three of their first four shots, including two from 3-point range.

The Aggies eventually opened up a 27-18 lead on Tyrece Radford’s fast-break layup with 3:13 left in the opening half.

But A&M, which only converted one of its final 10 shots of the first half, did not manage another field goal before the intermission.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Saturday is the fourth time A&M has shot below 60% from the line this year.

Ole Miss capitalized on A&M’s inaccuracy to take the lead with a 10-0 run.

Two Solomon Washington free throws momentarily put A&M back in front, but Matthew Murrell beat the buzzer on a trey to give Ole Miss a 31-29 edge at halftime.

The Rebels maintained the momentum in the second half and extended their lead to 44-33 on a Murray 3-pointer with 15:33 showing.

Taylor then hit a 3-pointer that ignited a 9-0 A&M run. The Aggies continued the surge and took a 60-53 lead on a Taylor layup with 3:39 left.

But from there, the Aggies went scoreless for almost three minutes.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss launched a 9-0 to take a 62-60 lead.

Radford converted two free throws to forge a tie with 46.3 seconds left. That led to Murray’s pivotal 3-pointer over the outstretched hand of Carter, who finished with seven points and 12 rebounds.

Of course, that shot wouldn’t have been so devastating had the Aggies been more accurate at the foul line and played stronger in the final minutes.

“We’ve just got to be better (after) the last media (time out),” Carter said. “We’ve got to play 40 minutes. It’s hard to win SEC basketball games.

“It is frustrating, but we’re not going to stop what we’re doing. We’re going to keep going every day and stacking days on days. But we definitely have to finish that last media and come up with a win.”

Discussion from...

Free-throw woes lead to an A&M meltdown against Ole Miss, 71-68

2,667 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by TMF
Hot Corner
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We are just 2-3 solid players away from a really good team. Not great players, but those that can get 8-13 points a night and shoot average percentages from the floor.
Gil Renard
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2 or 3. Try what we have without the marble Coleman boots someone missing. It's litterally taken us from a 4 seed to a 12 bubble
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We are a good coach or 2-3 good players away from being a good team.

This was supposed to be the year… old team with experience. We don't look better. Buzz is a motivator…not a developer of talent or some kind of basketball genius. I'm happy with him as our coach and we might hit jackpot if he gets a few diamonds in the rough but he should not be one of the highest paid coaches. Just not worth it.
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