Texas A&M basketball (11-5) is already in must-win mode. They face a dangerous ranked Tennessee team on their home court on Saturday.
One way or another Texas A&M has found a way to lose basketball games since conference play began at the end of December. The Aggies have been blown out, they’ve had poor shooting nights, they’ve struggled at the free throw stripe and suffered from plenty of bad luck.
They’re finally close to 100 percent with just guard Duane Wilson questionable for their upcoming tilt with Tennessee in Knoxville. It’s either now or never.
This team can’t fix the past, but they’d better flip the script on their future fast. Texas A&M was ranked as high as a No. 2-seed in early season bracketology – now they’re fighting for a tournament berth.
Tennessee (11-4, 2-2 SEC) rebounded from back-to-back conference losses to take down Kentucky and Vanderbilt last week. The Vols are going to be a challenge for the Aggies. Can the maroon and white step up and earn their first SEC win? Here’s how to watch the game.
How to watch
Date: Saturday, Jan. 13
Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Knoxville, TN
Venue: Thompson-Boling Arena
Keys to Victory
Texas A&M needs to get Robert Williams more involved. The one-time NBA Lottery lock has seen his name slide down draft boards as he struggles on the offensive end of the court. Tyler Davis has been phenomenal, but Williams hasn’t settled in yet this season.
This team is going to need to slow the game down and get quality shots. That’s going to be much easier to do if DJ Hogg and Admon Gilder can draw away pressure on Williams and Davis by forcing the defense to respect the outside shot.
Tennessee is going to attempt to ride the hot hand. Sophomore forward Grant Williams leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game. He’s averaged eight made shots during SEC play for the Vols and does most of his work inside, shooting 50.8 percent from the field. His success stems, in part, from a balanced offensive attack from the Vols.
Admiral Schofield (45.3 percent) and Jordan Bowden (59.6 percent) can both make their opponents pay for their overcompensation on the interior with a barrage of three-point attempts. The Vols can shoot, but the Aggies stand a much better chance of surviving that onslaught if they can keep the paint clean. They must disrupt the Vols’ rhythem and get points of their own in the paint.
Texas A&M was in the game against Kentucky to the very end. They would go on to lose, setting themselves up for a very frustrating roadtrip. The trip to Knoxville will be the toughest road trip left this season, but the Aggies haven’t done anything to prove they’re up for the challenge.
Tennessee 77, Texas A&M 69