Texas A&M Men’s Basketball wrapped up one of the more successful regular seasons in program history, going 23-8 overall and 15-3 in SEC play (the most regular season conference wins in program history). That success has all but assured them a spot in next week’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, but first there’s an SEC Tournament championship potentially on the line.
After a double bye, the 2 seed Aggies play their first conference tournament game against 10 seed Arkansas in the quarterfinals.
2 Texas A&M Aggies vs. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks
The Ags and Hogs split the season series 1-1, with each team winning on their home court (Arkansas won 81-70 in Fayetteville, A&M won 62-56 in College Station). Though it is worth noting that the game in Fayetteville was in the middle of the ice storm that swept across Texas and several neighboring states. That caused significant travel delays for the Aggies, forcing them to land in Oklahoma the night before the game and then drive to Fayetteville and later their practice schedule. Suffice to say, the conditions weren’t exactly normal.
Both games were very physical, with A&M at times struggling to match Arkansas’ athleticism and length. The Hogs often look like the more talented team, with the Aggies appearing to be the more consistent team who wins with effort.
Who to watch
- For the Aggies: The offense very much centers around the play of All-SEC guards Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece “Boots” Radford. Taylor led the Aggies in points per game (16.3) and assists per game (4.1), steals per game (1.8) and free throw percentage (86.9%) while Radford was second in each of those categories (13.3 points, 2.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 80.2% from the line). A&M also gets significant contributions from fellow starters Dexter Dennis, Henry Coleman and Julius Marble, and has gotten critical defensive play in recent games from bench player Anderson Garcia. A&M loves to get to the line, leading the nation in both free throws made and free throws attempted.
- For the Hogs: Just like A&M, the Hogs have a “IV” leading the way for them in Ricky Council IV, scoring 16.3 points per game just like A&M’s Taylor. Nick Smith fills the Boots Radford role with his 13.8 ppg. The difference is that unlike the Aggies, Arkansas also has three other players who also average double figures (Anthony Black 13.0, Trevon Brazile 11.8, and Davonte Davis 10.7). Arkansas likes to get the ball inside, and are last in the SEC in both 3-point attempts and makes.
In each of the two previous matchups, the team who shot the most 3-pointers (not a strong suit for either squad) and free throws is who won the game. We’ll see if that trend continues tonight.
The winner of A&M vs. Arkansas will face the winner of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt in the tournament semifinals at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (depending on when the previous game ends. That game will air on ESPN.