GAME PREVIEW: Texas A&M vs. Tennessee
The 25th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (20-7, 12-2 SEC) have continued to make statement after statement during the incredible run in SEC play, recently defeating the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks 62-56 on Tuesday night, followed by their 69-60 road romp versus Missouri on Saturday night, reaching 12-2 in the conference, and just one game behind the Alabama Crimson Tide with four regular season games remaining.
Who’s on deck this week? Perhaps the toughest opponent the Aggies will face so far this season, as the 11th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers (20-7, 9-5 SEC) come to what might be a sold-out Reed Arena on Tuesday night, coming off their road loss to Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Rick Barnes’s squad hasn’t had the best February, losing four out of their last six games, but did notch an impressive home win against Alabama last Wednesday. For the Aggies, a win against Tennesee would mean a 6th Quad 1 victory, their 13th conference win, and a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament.
The Volunteers are led by senior guard and sharpshooter Santiago Vescovi, averaging 12.5 ppg, while sophomore guard Zakai Zeigler 10.8 ppg, 5.4 assists, and 2.0 steals per game, followed by senior forward Oliver Nkamhoua with 10.5 ppg, and 5.0 rebounds per game. Defensively, Tennessee consistently frustrates every offense they come in contact with, ranked as the third-best scoring defense in the country at 56.7 points per game, limiting Alabama’s 6th-ranked scoring offense to just 59 points and 35.4% from the field.
The Aggies are currently ranked as the 68th-ranked scoring defense at a very respectable 65.9 points per game, so let’s assume this is going to be a knock-out, drag-out defensive slugfest, which of course plays into the hands of Head coach Buzz Williams’ offensive scheme, wanting to slow the game down as much as possible to penetrate the paint, and eventually get to the free throw line, where 25% of their offensive production derives from.
Against Missouri, sophomore scoring leader Wade Taylor IV shined with his third 20-plus-point game in his last four, netting 21 points including 4-7 from three, paired with Wichita State transfer guard Dexter Dennis’s 17-point, 10 rebound double-double, also going 3-7 from deep, exhibiting Texas A&M’s stark improvement on the perimeter during the five-game win streak.
One key advantage in the matchup is Tennesee’s recent performance outside Thompson-Boling Arena, currently 4-4 on the road, the Volunteers have dropped 3 out of their last six on the road, scoring 54, 65, and 54 points in each loss. So, keeping the score low is a must to keep the game in reach, and if trends can be trusted, The Aggies are in good shape heading into Tuesday.
Texas A&M vs. Tennessee is slated for Tuesday, Feb. 21st at 6:00 PM CT. and will air on ESPN. Oh, and it’s a blackout, y’all.
Tomorrow. Wear black. 🖤#GigEm pic.twitter.com/8BLGbk0YjD
— Texas A&M Basketball (@aggiembk) February 20, 2023
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Texas A&M handily defeats Missouri on the road 69-60, earning their 12th win in SEC play