On Friday night, Texas A&M needed a monster second half to erase a 13-point deficit and advance in the SEC Tournament with a 67-61 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. In Saturday’s semifinal matchup with Vanderbilt, no such effort was needed.
The Aggies dominated from the outset, jumping out to a big lead from the jump, leading by 24 points at the half. Vanderbilt narrowed that lead in the second half, but the outcome of the game was never seriously in doubt as the Ags cruised to a 87-75 win and advance to the SEC Tournament championship game on Sunday against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Normally getting to the free throw line is A&M’s bread and butter, leading the nation in both free throw makes and attempts. But a hot shooting day had the Aggies go to the stripe only three times in the first half while hitting 20 of 29 shots, including an uncharacteristic 7 of 12 three-point attempts (the Aggies shot only 10 the entire game the night before against Arkansas). The Aggies were unsurprisingly led in scoring by first team All-SEC guard Wade Taylor IV, who finished with 25 points. Boots Radford chipped in 16 points along with 13 from Julius Marble.
This is the second straight season A&M has advanced to the championship game of the SEC Tournament, falling 65-50 to Tennessee last year in what was their fourth game in four days before a heartbreaking snub from the NCAA Tournament selection committee. This year’s squad will hope to have much different Sunday results on both fronts. Taking down the Tide would give A&M it’s first SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament championship since joining the conference in 2012, and would bolster an already ironclad NCAA Tournament resume. The Aggies are currently projected as a 5 seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
The Aggies and Crimson Tide tip off at noon Sunday on ESPN. You can also watch online via www.espn.com/watch or the ESPN app.