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Texas A&M sinks Vanderbilt 89-81

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We made it tougher than we needed to late, but we held on for a much-needed road win

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The following statements are true:

  • Vanderbilt is dead last in the SEC, with a 5-11 SEC record and an 11-18 mark overall
  • Vanderbilt had won their last five at home, including recent victories over Mississippi State and Florida

We’ve been trying to isolate the impact of this win, and we think we’ve landed on the following: this was Schrodinger’s victory. The impressiveness of this victory both existed and did not exist at the same time. Confused? Perfect! That more than qualifies you to be a supporter of 2017-2018 Texas A&M Basketball.

Let’s break it down

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Hot shooting for days

Well not for days, plural, as we all know... but man could we fill it up on this day, specifically. The Aggies shot 55% in the first half, including 5-9 from beyond the arc, easily building a double digit lead throughout the opening frame.

The Commodores weren’t struggling to score, exactly, but they didn’t really have an answer for us on the defensive end. We got great looks at will, we made most of them, and we cleaned up the glass on the off chance that it didn’t drop. As we headed into the break, the second half seemed like a formality.

Halftime Score: Texas A&M 43, Vanderbilt 31

Holding on for dear life

For the most part, it was a formality. The Aggies were even hotter (65%) in the second half, the threes continued to fall, and the fast break points started to roll in. The end result was a 72-48 lead with 6:52 remaining. Job done, right?

Not exactly. Vanderbilt cranked up the pressure and starting hitting bombs at will, while we were all to happy to oblige with poor shot selection and terrible defensive discipline on the perimeter. As the Commodores cut the lead to seven we started to fear the worst, but Gilder and Hogg went a combined 8 for 8 from the stripe to close it out. The frantic comeback was finally extinguished.

Final Score: Texas A&M 89, Vanderbilt 81

Box Score

Individual Notes

  • The bench was much better today. Trocha, Flagg, and Chandler combined for 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. Perhaps just as crucially, they played 58 combined minutes with only two turnovers. We’ve settled on our eight man rotation for the rest of the season, and we need these guys in pretty much every game from here on out.
  • TJ Starks played a dang near perfect game of basketball. 18 points on 6-7 shooting, 6 assists, and zero turnovers. We’re used to his scoring punch, but the distribution and ball security were a pleasant surprise. I can’t imagine us being out of any game when he plays this well.
  • Tyler Davis was clutch, yet again. The big man had 22 points (7-10 FG) and 9 rebounds, and he even chipped in with 7-10 from the stripe when Vanderbilt was fouling late. Had we won against MSU midweek, he’d be a strong contender for SEC Player of the Week.
  • Hogg’s shot looked great when he pulled up in transition. His ability to create for himself is still in question, but the two wide open looks he had didn’t even graze the rim. If we can get back to a place where Hogg’s open threes are automatic, it will do wonders for this offense.
  • Gilder was his usual, steady, all around self. And his nerves of steel at the line helped us breathe easy down the stretch.
  • Texas A&M had a 15-2 advantage in second chance points.

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We played a really good 35 minutes of basketball. That isn’t always enough to get it done away from Reed Arena, but it worked against a Vanderbilt squad that has struggled for large stretches this season.

The response to this victory has been tepid, to put it kindly, so I’d imagine that it will take a little more to bring the support back on board. Next up is a road trip to Athens on Wednesday night.

BTHO Georgia