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Buzz Williams
Andersson Garcia
Wildens Leveque
Texas A&M Basketball

Ags look to take next step toward at-large bid vs. Ole Miss on Saturday

March 8, 2024
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Fowls, fouls and boards are likely to be required for Texas A&M to continue ascending.

Each Southeastern Conference basketball game the Aggies (17-13, 8-9) play represents a rung on a ladder to climb out of a hole and into and into the NCAA Tournament.

The next step on that ladder is a 1 p.m. CT visit to Ole Miss (20-10, 7-10), which is trying to get out of a hole of its own.

Both teams hope to enhance their NCAA Tournament resumes. The Aggies also hope to avenge a 71-68 loss to Ole Miss at Reed Arena on Jan. 27.

That loss came before a five-game losing streak that put in doubt A&M’s March Madness hopes in doubt.

But the Aggies have bounced back with back-to-back victories over Georgia and Mississippi State.

Continuing their recent shot streak likely requires the Aggies continuing to accumulate turkeys (three consecutive defensive stops), free throws and rebounds.

The Aggies had nine turkeys, made 14 free throws and grabbed 50 boards in the win over Georgia.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Since scoring 30 vs. Ole Miss on Jan. 27, Taylor has eclipsed the 20-point plateau just once.

They had six turkeys, made 15 free throws and grabbed 32 boards in the win over Mississippi State.

“We’ve played good the last three games (which includes a 70-68 loss to South Carolina),” A&M coach Buzz Williams said on Friday. “We’ll need to play even better (against Ole Miss) to have a chance.

“I would like to just see more of what we saw the last three games. Can we guard the ball? Can we keep the ball in front? Can we defend without fouling? Can we finish the possession with a defensive rebound? And can we do that consecutively?”

A&M did most of that in the first game against Ole Miss.

The Aggies limited Ole Miss to 41.7 percent shooting and amassed 42 rebounds.

But they only converted 12-of-22 free throws. That was obviously costly in a three-point loss.

However, the Aggies appear to be playing similarly to their level before the five-game skid.

A major reason for that is the emergence of sophomore guard Manny Obaseki and sophomore forward Solomon Washington. They combined 32 points against Mississippi State.

Their performances eased some pressure off guards Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford, who have typically been depended upon to provide some of the scoring.

While A&M aspires to maintain an upward trajectory, Ole Miss is trying to break out of a slump. The Rebels have lost four of their last five, including a 69-66 defeat at the hands of Georgia last Tuesday.

Still, the Rebels have plenty of threats. Four players average in double figures, including guard Matthew Murrell, who has a team-high 16.5 scoring average.

“Even in the two-and-a-half weeks, we lost five in a row, their togetherness never changed. I think it says a lot doubt the group, specifically the young people, to be tough enough to back from that.”
- A&M head coach Buzz Williams

Murrell only managed nine points against A&M, but 6-foot-8 forward Jameyn Brakefield compensated with 15 points and guard Jaylen Murray had 16.

They pose big problems for A&M, especially on the road where the Aggies have been wildly inconsistent. That’s concerning for a team that cannot afford another loss on its NCAA resume.

But A&M forward Andersson Garcia, who leads the SEC in rebounds, said the Aggies aren’t worried.

“We’ve been in hard situations like this before,” Garcia said. “The team is known for always fighting and not quitting. 

“I’ve got respect for every team in the SEC, but I don’t think A&M is scared of moments like this.”

That the Aggies still have a “moment like this” is an accomplishment. The NCAA Tournament seemed like a lost cause just a week ago.

“I just think we hung in there,” Williams said. “Even in the two-and-a-half weeks, we lost five in a row, their togetherness never changed.

“I think it says a lot doubt the group, specifically the young people, to be tough enough to back from that.”

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Ags look to take next step toward at-large bid vs. Ole Miss on Saturday

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