Post Game: Texas A&M falls to lowly Vanderbilt on a last second shot

Texas A&M (15-9, 6-5 SEC) fell to the Vanderbilt Commodores 74-73 on a last-second shot, ending their SEC win streak.

The Aggies have been one of the hottest teams in the SEC this month, coming off a blowout victory over the No. 6-ranked Tennessee on Saturday night. Still, throughout the celebration, Texas A&M would quickly hit the road to face the struggling Vanderbilt Commodores on Tuesday night.

Vanderbilt’s record is ugly, including just one win in SEC play; this was a trap game from the start for the visitors, knowing that it would take the same level of play exhibited against the Volunteers to steal another road victory.

The first half of the Maroon & White can be explained in one word: underwhelming. Showing signs of a slight hangover from the weekend’s statement victory, the Aggies were lackadaisical from the field despite shooting 40-plus percent. At the same time, the defense allowed Commodores forward Ven-Allen Lubin to have his way in the paint, scoring 11 points in the first 13 minutes.

Even more surprising, Aggies star guard Wade Taylor IV was held scoreless for most of the half, while veteran guard Tyrece Radford, coming off of a 27-point performance, incurred two early fouls and was sent to the bench. Committing seven turnovers, leading to 7 points on the other end, A&M started to look like the team that started 1-3 in conference play earlier this year.

Still keeping things close, Vanderbilt began to heat up from beyond the arc, tying the Aggies with three 3-pointers

However, credit to head coach Buzz Williams for sticking to his game plan and trusting his elite guard duo to find their rhythm while getting back to basics and driving inside the paint, while forwards Henry Coleman III and Andersson Garcia finally imposed their will inside, outrebounding the home team 20-10. Scoring six points (1-5 FG) in the final minutes, including two lead-taking free throws, Wade Taylor provided the Aggies a slight 31-30 lead at the half.

Second Half: 

Vanderbilt would not let up in the second half, but the Aggies had answers. Trading baskets for the first four minutes, the Commodores kept their foot on the gas pedal, answering every slight lead the Aggies would take behind their special guard duo in Tyrene Lawrence and Ezra Manjon, including two consecutive three-pointers to take a 44-40 lead with just over 14 minutes remaining.

Attempting to break the zone, transfer guard Jace Carter’s second-half impact continued, tying the game at 44 after a 10-2 Vanderbilt run and leading to Coleman’s driving three-point layup after the foul to take a 47-44 lead with just under 12 minutes left.

It continued to be a back-and-forth contest while Vanderbilt held a stark advantage from the 3-point line, shooting a staggering 50% from deep, taking a 57-53 lead before Wade Taylor’s first 3-point make of the night as the clock neared the six-minute mark. Failing to take advantage of their second-half leads, the Aggies were desperate for a mini-scoring run to finally impose their will.

Needing a solid finish from Radford and Taylor, both players scored ten consecutive points, including Taylor’s pull-up three-pointer to take a 69-66 lead. Despite Taylor’s 18 points, the Commodores kept attacking the basket, tying the game at 69 with just over two minutes remaining. Buzz Williams needed to draw up his best defensive set to stop Vanderbilt’s offensive momentum.

After a Tyrece Radford miss, Commodores guard Ezra Manjon hit a clutch corner three to take a 72-69 lead, but the Aggies would respond at the free throw line with two Radford makes. With a one-point lead, Aggies athletic forward Solomon Washingon blocked a shot a second on the shot clock, resulting in a missed shot.

Running down the court, Radford took a lower-body shot after being fouled at the line, making both free throws to take a slim 73-72 lead, but that was short-lived, as Ezra Manjon, with 13 seconds left, drove down the court, got in the paint, and threw up the game-winning shot to earn Vanderbilt their second win in SEC play.

A gut-wrenching ending to the Aggies’ 3-game winning streak won’t get any easier, as they now travel to face the No. 15 Alabama Crimson Tide on the road on Saturday afternoon. This loss counts as a Quad 3 loss, which will likely damage the Aggies’ projected 7-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Below are the Aggies critical contributors from the game:

Wade Taylor IV:  18 points / three rebounds

Tyrece Radford:  17 points / 1 rebound / 4 assists

Jace Carter: 11 points / 4 rebounds / 2 assists

Vanderbilt’s top contributors:

Ezra Manjon: 19 points / 2 rebounds / 4 assists

Ven-Allen Lubin: 25 points / 5 rebounds

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Story originally appeared on Aggies Wire