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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn looks to bounce back against Texas A&M

Auburn forward Chris Moore (5) plays defense against Tennessee, on February 4, 2023, in Knoxville, TN.
Auburn forward Chris Moore (5) plays defense against Tennessee, on February 4, 2023, in Knoxville, TN.

Auburn basketball attempts to get back in the win column as it travels to College Station, Texas to take on Texas A&M.

“Well, if you love the grind, which I do, then you love the position that you're in right now,” said head coach Bruce Pearl.  “Texas A&M put 79 on us, you know, and that's the highest total we've given up in league play. So it starts with our ability to be able to guard them.”

The Tigers were defeated by the Aggies earlier this season, losing 79-63. Texas A&M broke Auburns 28-game home win streak in that game, the longest streak in the nation at that time. Aggie guard Tyrece Radford tore through the Tigers in that game, scoring 30 points and nabbing nine rebounds in 38 minutes played.

“Every time I’ve played them it’s been a struggle. Freshman year on our senior night, they came in here and beat us. Sophomore year, we lost there at the buzzer. Junior year, I think we split. They beat us in the (2022 SEC) Tournament,” said senior Jaylin Williams. “They’re well coached as a team. They’re always prepared, and we’ve just got to come with it.”

Auburn (17-6, 7-3 SEC) is coming off a tough loss to No. 6 Tennessee, losing 46-43. Junior Wendell Green Jr. almost willed the Tigers to victory, hitting a 3-pointer to make it a one possession game and clanking another shot that would have sent the game to overtime. Despite the loss, Auburn looked strong on defense, holding the Volunteers to a 27% field-goal percentage and a 10% three-point percentage. 

Texas A&M (16-7, 8-2 SEC) is coming off a dominant performance against Georgia, defeating the Bulldogs 82-57. The Aggies are averaging 74.7 points per game, ranking fourth in the SEC and 111th nationally. Texas A&M developed one of the best offenses in the SEC by shooting an efficient 44.8% field-goal percentage, good for fourth in the SEC, and shooting 73.9% from the foul-line, ranking third in the SEC. 

The Aggies are led in scoring by guards Wade Taylor IV and Radford, averaging 14.6 and 13.8 points per game – good for 11th and 13th in the SEC. Taylor IV also leads Texas A&M in assists and steals, averaging four and 1.7 per game, respectively.

“A&M's guards are just so big, strong, physical, athletic. They just physically overpower guards in our league,” Pearl said. “A&M's probably playing as well as anybody, right now, in the league.”

The Aggies give up 66.2 points per game, ranking sixth in the SEC and 84th nationally. Texas A&M is proficient on the glass and pickpocketing, averaging 37.4 rebounds and 7.3 steals per game – good for seventh and sixth in the SEC, respectively. However, the Aggies are the worst shot blocking team in the conference, averaging 2.4 blocks per game.

Auburn and Texas A&M competed against five of the same conference opponents this season: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina. Both of them went 5-1 against those common opponents, with the Tigers dropping one of their two games to Georgia 76-64 and the Aggies losing to Arkansas 81-70.

Auburn and Texas A&M tip off from Reed Arena Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Donavan Weaver | Sports Writer

Donavan Weaver is a senior at Auburn, majoring in journalism. He is from Brewton, Ala. and started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.

Twitter: @donavanweaver21

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