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Texas A&M Stuns No. 8 Auburn 81-80

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TJ Starks led the way with a career-high 23 points, and the Aggies held on late to improve to 5-6 in SEC play

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

We did it, y’all

It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t particularly fun to watch down the stretch, but we held on against the #8 team in the nation to improve to 5-6 in SEC play.

TJ Starks was electric, our big men were unstoppable down low, and our shooting was juuuuust good enough to hold off Auburn and a truly terrible crew of SEC officials.

Let’s break it down.

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Up For The Fight

We were not afraid of the moment, and we went toe-to-toe with Auburn from the opening tip. They would go on these occasional mini-runs, but we always held our nerve and got the ball down low when we needed a response. And any time that didn’t work, we just gave it to TJ Starks.

Auburn hung around, but our stellar early shooting (we started 7-11 from 3PT range) and dominance down low eventually led to a double digit edge. The Auburn crowd, which Pearl had whipped into a frenzy over the last two years, was a little quiet at the halftime whistle.

Halftime Score: Texas A&M 46, Auburn 36

Closing Time

Auburn announced that leading scorer Bryce Brown would not return after halftime (shoulder) and we pushed the lead to 17 shortly thereafter. At that point we were sitting in a commanding position without Auburn’s best player, and this became a game we had to have.

Auburn, to their credit, did what they’ve done all season. Before this game, they were an absurd 5-2 in games where they trailed by double digits in the second half, and we saw their frenetic style pay dividends yet again. They chipped away at the lead for the middle portion of the second half and took the lead on a 9-0 run with 7:43 remaining.

Now, I do have to note that this comeback wasn’t entirely Auburn-dependent. We helped by refusing to play to our obvious advantage (the bigs down low), and the referees helped by submitting a terrible stretch of officiating, perhaps the worst I’ve seen in a Texas A&M game all year. I am by no means the “blame the ref every time we look poor” guy, but this was egregious.

The teams traded blows down the stretch, which led to a 80-76 Texas A&M advantage with 2:08 remaining.

Let’s Get Weird

It truly took an obscenely long amount of real, actual time to grind through these two game minutes. Here’s how it went down.

  • Wilson fires away from 40 feet with plenty of time left on the shot clock. The results aren’t great (80-76)
  • Auburn hits two FT’s (80-78)
  • We turn the ball over, and it leads to a jump ball. Auburn also turns the ball over because they are really nice hosts (80-78)
  • Hogg misses a three pointer with plenty of time left on the shot clock. Auburn grabs the rebound and we foul immediately for some reason. It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen us do, because we’re 90 feet from our own basket and up by two. They hit both free throws with :10 remaining (80-80)
  • Duane Wilson goes the length of the floor and gets fouled with 2.0 seconds remaining. A review is then executed for 700 hours to determine that there should actually be 3.5 seconds remaining. He hits one of two. (81-80)
  • Auburn immediately calls timeout after the missed free throw, but too much time goes off the clock apparently, because another review is required. This one takes 1,400 hours and bankrupts the state of Alabama. The end result is that there are now 3.2 seconds remaining. Auburn gets a pretty good look, they miss, and we hold on to win. (81-80)

Final Score: Texas A&M 81, Auburn 80

Box Score

Individual Notes

We’ll try to be quick, because this is a longer recap than most, but there were some good nuggets from this game

  • Williams (16 points, 8-9 FG, 7 rebounds) was insanely efficient yet again. For the life of me, I have no idea how he didn’t get the ball more often today, but he was sure-handed and effective on the rare occasions where he had the rock. Given that he’s missing somewhere around two shots a month, I’d suggest getting this guy the ball more often.
  • Davis (15 points, 7-12 FG, 8 rebounds) submitted his ho-hum good outing. We get a B+ or better from this guy every single night, and we just take it for granted.
  • DJ Hogg was bad from the field (3 points, 1-8 FG)... but he did have 7 assists. So there’s that.
  • We’ve already talked about Starks, but he was so dang good today. He was a little reckless, but I think that’s just part of the package. I think you just pencil in a couple of turnovers and a couple of forced shots every night, and you just take it because the overall package is still worth it. It certainly was tonight.

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No hype explanation needed for this Saturday. Kentucky comes to down for a 7:15pm tip, and the place will be rocking. I’ve already got my ticket, and I can’t wait. Hope to see y’all there.

BTHO Kentucky