This team just polished off a top-half finish in the SEC, which is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen since I jumped on board sixteen years ago.
We won five games on the road (more than everyone except Kentucky), we won ten games overall (all as underdogs), and we did it with a level of fight and tenacity that never wavered throughout the nine week grind of conference play.
This is our best record in SEC play since the days of the Caruso/House SEC Champions, and it’s wild to think about the talent disparity in some of our successful outings this season.
And to think this was same group that started the season 3-5. Incredible.
The opening portion of this game wasn’t great. The crowd (which eventually filled in) started pretty slowly, and that lack of energy seemed to trickle into a game where neither team cleared double digits for the first eight minutes.
Arkansas slowly extended their lead to seven approaching the final media break, but we closed on an exhilarating 12-2 run that had Reed about as loud as it had been all season. Mitchell later called this passage “the most energy he’s seen from the team.”
Things were only going to get better.
Halftime Score: Texas A&M 33, Arkansas 30
This game never got out of hand, I also never felt like we were going to lose. Does that make sense? It probably doesn’t, but there was something about the combination of Senior Day, our season-long narrative, and the energy level on the floor that made a win seem inevitable.
Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe kept coming at us, but Nebo or Mitchell always had an answer, and when they didn’t answer we found timely shooting from Chandler, Jackson, and Flagg. Our offensive sets were looking about as good as they’d looked all season, the defensive intensity kept the Hogs at a 2-3 possession distance, and it was all capped by our best highlight of the season.
The alley-oop— ESPN (@espn) March 8, 2020
The bench celebration
(via @SECNetwork) pic.twitter.com/HusDKzgk1q
We were predicted to finish 13th (at 4-14)... and instead we finished 10-8 and in the top half of the conference standings. Absolutely unreal.
Final Score: Texas A&M 77, Arkansas 69
- Mitchell’s 25 points were a season-high, he was the driving force behind these last two wins, and he has a very strong case for SEC Player of the Week.
- Nebo (20 points, 7 rebounds) has scored in double digits for four straight weeks and he hasn’t dipped below 50% from the field.
- Miller’s ten rebounds led us to a comfortable advantage down low. We outrebounded Arkansas 41-25, we held a 13-4 edge in second chance points, and we held a 32-10 edge in the paint. Miller’s scoring has dipped, but he finished the regular season with a Top 10 SEC rebounding rate on both ends of the floor.
- Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe came to play yesterday, combining for 52 points and 14 made threes. They’re probably the best offensive pair we’ve seen this season.
If you didn’t listen to the full Buzz audio, I implore you to listen to the snippet below. I genuinely consider it among the best audio clips I’ve ever heard from an A&M coach.
The work IS the reward. @TeamCoachBuzz with the most powerful answer you'll listen to all weekend. #GigEm#getBETTER pic.twitter.com/LLKF6eKbJN— Texas A&M Basketball (@aggiembk) March 8, 2020
There are around a hundred different things to love about that clip, but my favorite is the insistence that we not look to the future too early. This roster has accomplished great things, and we do this current crop a disservice by looking to the future before the current campaign is even over.
I’m going to enjoy every last minute of this season, and you KNOW we are the team that nobody wants to see in Nashville. It all starts on Thursday against Mizzou, with Auburn waiting in the quarterfinals. Stay tuned to the site, we’ll make sure we’ve got you covered as the postseason news (and potential projections) roll in.
‼️ANNOUNCEMENT‼️ The #SECMBB seeds are SET.— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) March 8, 2020
Your 2020 #SECTourney Bracket
See you March 11th. pic.twitter.com/qZGt6TSTlK