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Aggies Crush Crusaders; Looking Ahead to Central Arkansas

Fourteen Aggies logged minutes. Fourteen Aggies scored points. The Aggies won 102-52, breaking 100 for the first time since 2017.

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2021 Maui Invitational
Hassan Diarra’s 16 points led all scorers on a night where the Aggies broke the century mark for the first time in four years. Diarra added 4 assists and 3 steals.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The offensive decimation of a non-conference opponent felt like it was an eternity in coming. The Aggies hadn’t eclipsed the 90-point barrier since Buzz Williams became head coach in 2019. The Aggies largest margin of victory during Williams’s tenure was the 34 point win over Houston Baptist six weeks ago. Heading into Monday night’s almost exhibition game against Dallas Christian College, it seemed that A&M would have a chance to put the hammer down and rack up points. And that’s exactly what happened. The Aggies capitalized on their tremendous size advantage to pull down 24 offensive rebounds as well as the 33 turnovers created by their athleticism and high pressure defense to throttle the Crusaders 102-52.

The Ags shot 51.3% on 76 field goal attempts, including an 11-30 night from beyond the arc. Hassan Diarra led all players in scoring with 16 points, and was joined by four other Aggies (Marcus Williams, Quenton Jackson, Hayden Hefner, and Aaron Cash) in double digits. Quenton Jackson had a big night defensively with 3 steals and 4 blocks. Aaron Cash was A&M’s leading rebounder with 8 total boards, including 5 offensive rebounds. A&M didn’t dominate the smaller Crusaders with their size; the Aggie bigs, Henry Coleman (13), Javonte Brown (9), and Ethan Henderson (14) combined to register only 36 minutes total. These three players combined average 52 minutes per game this season. Instead, Buzz Williams went even further into his already deep bench, playing a total of fourteen players in the game. All fourteen recorded at least 2 points.

This shouldn’t be taken to demean Dallas Christian. As a small non-NCAA program, they took on a last-minute game against a Power 5 school over the holidays, and they played the Aggies tight in the opening minutes. DCC even held an early 11-10 lead with 13:19 remaining in the first half. However, the Aggies went on an 18-0 run over a 4:15 span to open the game up and took a 54-18 lead into halftime. The Ags never wavered in the second half, continuing to pour on the points and leading by as many as 59. To their credit, Dallas Christian shot very well from beyond the arc, hitting 12 of their 23 three point attempts.

For Aggie fans, the offensive explosion was a welcome sight. This is the type of game many hoped to see from this team when this matchup was announced as a replacement for the Tulane cancellation. While this result won’t do much for the Aggies in terms of NET (66) or RPI (72) rankings, it will hopefully give the Aggies a boost of confidence heading into conference play.

Next up for the Aggies are the Bears of Central Arkansas. Tip-off for the game is Wednesday (tonight) at 7:00 at Reed Arena. This is part of the A&M Holiday Hoops promotion, so good seats (12th Man Foundation) at very good prices (StubHub) are still available. UCA currently sports a 2-9 record with notable losses to Baylor and Arkansas as well as prior A&M opponents Butler and New Orleans. The Bears’ two victories came at the expense of Oral Roberts and Division III Hendrix College.

DraftKings Sportsbook has the Ags as 27 point favorites* over Central Arkansas. The line isn’t surprising considering the Bears’ 27 point loss to a New Orleans team that the Aggies previously beat by 20.

*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

Junior forward Darious Hall and freshman guard Camren Hunter lead Central Arkansas in scoring at 12.9 and 12.0 points per game, respectively. Hall, a transfer by way of Arkansas and DePaul, also leads the team in rebounding. The Bears are not a particularly strong shooting team, averaging just 41.7% from the field and 27.3% from three. They play a relatively fast paced game, ranking 22nd nationally in tempo.

Most importantly, this game serves as the final non-conference tuneup before the Aggies jump into the 18 game slate of SEC games. It would be great the see A&M enter conference play with the positive momentum that a string of dominating non-conference wins can provide.

Elsewhere in the SEC, tonight marks the beginning of conference play for eight teams in the conference, including a pair of exciting top 20 matchups. Mississippi State is a 3.5-point favorite* as they host Arkansas at 4:00. Bruce Pearl’s #11 Auburn Tigers are 4-point favorites* at home against #16 LSU at 6:00. Kentucky is currently ranked #18 and are giving up 20.5 points* to visiting Missouri at 6:00. Finally, #14 is getting 3 points* on the road against #19 Alabama at 7:00. All times listed above are Central, and the lines are provided our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.