Texas A&M men’s basketball wasn't able to overcome No. 9 Tennessee’s early lead as the Volunteers handed the Aggies a 68-54 loss at Reed Arena on Saturday.
A&M coach Buzz Williams said emotion plays a key factor in the team’s success.
“We don’t play with the emotion that we need from start to finish,” Williams said. “You see glimpses of it, but I think stereotypically speaking the reason we have been successful is based on the emotion; but that emotion is really just a byproduct of how much we care and the ownership we have in what we’re doing. Is it about basketball? Maybe it’s about basketball, but I think basketball is just a microcosm of how much we care about one another and being the best we can be at helping each other.”
While the game started as a back-and-forth contest, at just under seven minutes in, the Volunteers launched a 17-4 scoring run that A&M never recovered from.
Down 14 with six and a half minutes remaining in the game, the Aggies hit four three-pointers to come back within six, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Tennessee’s lead as the Volunteers would lead 37-30 into the halftime break.
Senior guard Savion Flagg contributed three of those baskets, finishing the game 4-of-6 from behind the arc for a team-leading 12 points. Heading into Saturday’s game, Flagg had been shooting just 19-of-58 on the season, including 8-of-38 from three.
Flagg’s improvement was instrumental for the Aggies, whose leading scorer for the season, sophomore forward Emanuel Miller, was having his own scoring troubles. Miller recorded a season-low eight points in Saturday’s game on 3-of-8 shooting.
Flagg said it is pivotal to have confidence going into every shot taken.
“You can’t dwell on the past results,” Flagg said. “If you make the last shot of course you’re going to have confidence to shoot the next one but all of the shots have to have the same mentality going into it.”
Tennessee maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half, only allowing the Aggies within nine.
The top scorer for the Volunteers was sophomore point guard Santiago Vescovi, who put up 23 points.
Another top scorer for the Aggies was senior point guard Quenton Jackson who posted 11 points and three assists in twenty minutes of play.
Williams said moving forward, the Aggies will be focusing on endurance and eliminating inconsistencies.
“We’ve got to get to where our endurance is longer,” Williams said. “Where it’s better and we can execute. But the reason we don’t have the endurance that we need is the inconsistency in what we’re doing each day. And that’s my fault and I’ve got to correct that.”
Next up the maroon and white will take on Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.