Texas A&M men’s basketball faced TCU in the Lone Star Showdown in Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena on Saturday and was outclassed in its first Power Five matchup of the season.
The Aggies have not played the Horned Frogs since the days of the Southwest Conference, last meeting in 1996. A&M continued the season’s trend of struggling with turnovers, losing the ball 20 times on the day while shooting a meager 38.3 percent from the field.
“It’s not one person with a high turnover rate, it's a team with a high turnover rate,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “We had six guys that had a minimum of two turnovers… you just give yourself a very negative slash small margin when you’re turning the ball over at the rate you are.”
Through the first half, A&M turned the ball over nine times. These possession issues were expounded by poor first-half shooting, shooting 25 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from beyond the arc.
With four shooting droughts of three-plus minutes in just the first half, points were hard to come by for the Aggies. Going into the half trailing 42-21, eight of A&M’s 21 points were recorded from the free-throw line.
“We weren’t playing our game,” Gordon said. “Our game plan is to get into the charge circle, play off two feet, and make a play for each other. I don’t think we did that very well in the first half and that translated to the second half.”
A&M’s shooting saw an uptick in the second half that was too little and too late, finishing the game with 38.3 percent shooting from the field and 23.5 shooting from deep. Senior guard Jay Jay Chandler, who led the Aggies in scoring with 12 points, went scoreless in the first half on two attempts.
Chandler exemplified A&M’s second half increase in offensive production, shooting 2-of-4 from deep in the second half and being perfect from the free throw line on four attempts. Freshman guard Hassan Diara also shot two for four from three in the game while also recording three steals in the second half. Diarra had nine points, two rebounds, and three assists in 22 minutes.
“What we thought we were as a team, in reality, we have far more space to improve,” sophomore forward Emanuel Miller said. “Our identity, we are known as a team that fights every single possession, every single minute, every single second of the game. Today we did not do that.”
Miller, who is coming off of consecutive 20-point 10-rebound games, was one board shy of his third double- double of the season. Miller had 10 points, two steals and an assist on the day while knocking down four of six free throws.
It took four and a half minutes into the second half for the Aggies to score from the field. Beyond this point, A&M’s issue of lengthy droughts ended for the most part with the exception of one more three and a half minute drought. Because of this and a defense that forced nine second half steals, A&M outscored TCU 34-31 in the second half.
“I hope, honestly, that [losing] is a wake up call to everybody, including myself,” Williams said. “I can’t put all of this on our players, it has to be on our program that, collectively, we’ve got to start trending in the right direction on the things that we know correlate to what we want to be about.”
Contrasting to A&M’s struggles, TCU shot from the field at a 52 percent clip while also shooting a stellar 43.5 percent from deep. TCU also moved the ball well, doubling A&M’s total assists with 22. A&M only led TCU in two statistical categories, steals (10 to 9) and free throw percentage.
A&M will now head back to Reed Arena to host Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The two teams have only met once before where A&M won 100-58 in 2015.
“I want to see a team that's together, a team that's willing to sacrifice [for] one another for the better purpose of the team,” Miller said. “I want to see a team that fights. I want to see a team that talks, that communicates, and that just listens to our coach and executes our game plan… We cannot be that team unless we strive to be that team in practice. Starting tonight, not tomorrow.”