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A&M grinds out an ugly win in Athens

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TJ Starks led the way in a nail-biting 61-60 victory at Georgia

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A beautiful disaster.

This game won’t win any awards for pace, artistic expression, or well-played basketball. But it was a hard fought game against a surprisingly chippy Georgia squad, on the road, in a venue where we couldn’t buy a call.

And we gutted it out.

Let’s break it down.

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Lookin’ Good Early

We flat out brought the defensive intensity tonight.

Our shots weren’t falling early, but Georgia (with their healthy 14th out of 14 ranking among SEC offenses) couldn’t get anything going on offense. We were closing hard, but we were also closing smart. We have a tendency to fly to the arc and lose our discipline when we trot out the zone, and today we did a much better job keeping that energy in check.

Our shooting wasn’t too much better on the other end, but a late spurt and an extended 0-10 FG stretch by the Bulldogs allowed us to pull away shortly before the break.

Halftime Score: Texas A&M 37, Georgia 28

Good Feelings Gone

Everything we had going for us offensively, it just.... stopped in the second half.

Georgia dialed up the defensive intensity, we were missing threes (2-9), we couldn’t hit a free throw (2-7), and our big men were whistled for a foul any time a Georgia player had the gall to step inside the three point line. The end result was a slow evaporation of that halftime advantage, which culminated in a five point Georgia advantage with 3:02 remaining.

From there, TJ Starks took over. Starks scored two of our last three buckets and assisted on the third, a huuuuuuge three from Admon Gilder.

We had our ugly win, and believe it or not, we had all but punched our ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Final Score: Texas A&M 61, Georgia 60

Box Score

Individual Notes

  • Flagg was really solid off the bench for the second game running. Seven points and six boards in 12 minutes? I’ll take it.
  • This game had an absurd amount of trash talk. There was a four minute stretch where each team had two or three pissed off big men on the floor, and taking the ball to the rack was straight bad for your health. It was fun.
  • I’m going to harp on this again - today was the full TJ Starks experience. He was stellar and mistake-free at Vanderbilt, but tonight was probably a more fair representation of what he’s going to bring to this program. The dude can score, he’s not afraid of the big moment, and he’s probably going to frustrate you 4-5 times per game. Take the package as is, because you can win with a guy like this.
  • Gilder looks limited by injury, and he’s still grinding through 30+ minutes to close out the season. He has given this program a ton of minutes over the past three years, and he deserves another shot at the NCAA’s.
  • The battle down low between Davis and Maten was an absolute treat. Neither guy gave an inch, and both took the repeated 1-on-1’s personally. They both had their moments over the course of the evening, but I’m giving my edge to Davis since we, you know, won the game.

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If you’re trying to figure out who we are, you’re not alone. We can dominate a game for six minutes, fall asleep for twelve, and miss the next 18 while we’re in line for a hot pretzel. All before snapping back into form to close it out with a perfect four minutes plucked straight from a November in Germany.

So no, I don’t know who we are. Not in the slightest. Nor do I know who’s going to show up on a given night. But I can speak to this game, specifically, and the reasons (not excuses) to lose this game were lining up. Poor shooting, terrible officiating, Senior Night on the road... and we still pulled it out.

Perhaps the season is not lost, after all.

Next up is Senior Day against the Crimson Tide. BTHO Alabama.