What Texas A&M needs to do in order to protect home court against the No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers

Texas A&M (14-8, 5-4 SEC) is coming off an impressive 79-60 road win vs. the Missouri Tigers on Wednesday night. Still, the turnaround is somewhat brutal, as the Aggies will return home to host the No. 6-ranked Tennessee Volunteers (17-5, 7-2 SEC), who have won six out of their last seven conference games.

On paper, outside of A&M’s early 70-66 road loss to Houston back in December, this is by far the program’s toughest game yet, but after consecutive SEC wins aided by veteran point guard Tyrece Radford’s 20-plus point performances, a stat that includes an 11-1 record when such feat is accomplished.

Averaging 80 PPG this season, transfer guard Dalton Knecht already looks like an NBA lottery pick, averaging 20.2 PPG (second in the SEC) while playing with a consistent toughness and confidence that has led the Volunteers to their highly respectable 7-2 SEC record.

While the Volunteers may be a better team on paper than last season, most of the roster, outside of Knecht’s addition, has stayed intact. Texas A&M’s game plan against the Volunteers will likely remain the same as it was vs. Florida and Missouri, but to keep pace offensively, both Taylor and Radford will likely need to score at least 20 points each. At the same time, the defensive/rebounding X factor in forward Andersson Garcia could decide the game in the final minutes.

Garcia is coming off one of his best career games after recording 7 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, and two blocks against Missouri. Still, his scoring production and his elite zone defense will need to take a significant step on Saturday to help pull off the upset.

Last but not least, the Aggies must be efficient at the free throw line when the opportunity presents itself, something that has hindered their ability to close out games throughout SEC play.

These are two tough and resilient programs eager to prove their worth game to game, but the Aggies’ earning what would be their 6th Quad 1 victory would further solidify a place in the NCAA Tournament.

The 6th-ranked Tennesse Volunteers will visit the Aggies in College Station on Saturday night. The game will air on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. CT.

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Story originally appeared on Aggies Wire