Texas A&M men’s basketball traveled to Columbia to face its third SEC opponent of the season, South Carolina, on Wednesday. The Aggies never managed to take control of the game and ultimately fell to the Gamecocks, 78-54.
“Everyone on this team wants to win, everyone on this team wants to get better,” sophomore forward Emanuel Miller said. “That doesn’t happen overnight, that happens every single day that we practice. We have a lot of room to grow.”
The Aggies gave up a handful of three-pointers to start the game and quickly accumulated several fouls. By the time the maroon and white had eight points on the board, they had also recorded five fouls.
Recurring sloppy offensive possessions allowed South Carolina to take a 10-point lead midway through the first half followed by a 9-0 run by the Aggies. A&M seemed to find their rhythm and were able to shrink the Gamecocks’ lead to one point at 20-19.
Miller led the Aggies offensively by contributing 17 of the team’s 27 points of the half.
One area in which A&M and South Carolina struggled severely in was turnovers. The ball was turned over a total of 23 times in the first half, 12 of those by the Aggies.
“If you don’t have players each possession that are fighting like your life depends on it, then we have no chance of winning in this league,” Miller said. “This is a great league with great teams, great coaching staffs and great players. Each possession matters, each possession is life or death in this league.”
The first half ended with a six-point lead by South Carolina, the score being 33-27 at the break. The scoreboard reflected similar performances by the Aggies and Gamecocks as they shot 39 and 38 field goals, respectively. However, one area in which South Carolina outperformed the Aggies was in three-pointers.
The maroon and white did not return to the court with improved discipline or significant adjustments made. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks cleaned up their game, capitalized on A&M’s offensive struggles and were able to take a 10-point lead to start the second half.
“First half I really think we were competing,” Miller said. “There were a couple possessions where we weren’t disciplined. Going into halftime we had the collective thought that we could come back out and take the lead but the second half felt like there was no fight, no effort.”
South Carolina was able to move the ball swiftly, especially with the help of junior guard AJ Lawson who garnered 30 points, a career high. The Gamecocks demonstrated chemistry despite it only being their fifth game of the season and first conference matchup.
Despite A&M senior guard Quenton Jackson contributing double-digit figures in addition to Miller’s 28 points, the Aggies allowed the Gamecocks to extend their lead throughout the second half while A&M only made it to the bucket five times.
The Aggies recorded more turnovers than points in the second half and ultimately fell to South Carolina with a final score being 78-54.
“Kudos to South Carolina because they showed us that we have much room to grow,” Miller said. “They out-rebounded us, out-toughed us, out-competed us and moving forward, that can’t happen.”
Following the loss, A&M coach Buzz Williams evaluated the team’s performance and looked ahead to the next scheduled opponent.
“We’ll have trouble scoring, we’ll have trouble guarding them,” Williams said. “But we’ll have even more trouble if our turnover rate stays too high and they’re able to get 19 more shots like South Carolina did tonight.”
A&M will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 9, to host No. 7 Tennessee at Reed Arena at 1 p.m.