Texas A&M guard Quenton Jackson notched 16 points in his Division I debut in an 81-74 edge of Texas A&M-Kingsville Friday night at Reed Arena.
The exhibition match also opened the Buzz Williams era, who said that this is the first time he’s coached in an exhibition in his 12 years at the helm of a program.
“It’s the first exhibition game I’ve played as a head coach,” Williams said. “I’ve never done it. I did this one because of coach [Johnny Estelle] and my relationship with him. In hindsight, it was for sure the right decision, regardless of Coach. We needed to play with the lights on. We needed to play with some people in the stands. I think there’s a lot to learn from it.”
Freshman forward Emanuel Miller also made a splash in his first collegiate game, scoring 14 points and four rebounds while earning the start for the Aggies. Returning starting guard Savion Flagg recorded another 13 of his own on five-of-seven shooting from the field.
In the first 20 minutes of play, the Aggies kept the advantage while fighting off a scrappy Kingsville squad, who utilized two junior college transfers in Tre Flowers and Sammy Brooks from beyond the arc and in the paint.
The two guards posted 38 points for the Javelinas, and kept Kingsville in the contest until the final minutes.
Flowers, a Bryan-College Station native, played at A&M consolidated before spending two years at Seward Community College in Kansas.
“It’s good to come back and see all of the support here,” Flowers said. “This is the first time I’ve played back here in two years … It was surreal. I didn’t even think that I would be in this position to be playing here.”
The Javelinas also took advantage of A&M’s sloppiness with the ball, who gave up 22 points off of 23 turnovers in the game.
“I think what we got to figure out is regardless of who plays, who can play and help us get a shot as opposed to a turnover,” Williams said. “And the issue is that we had six guys out of the 10 that played that had a minimum of three turnovers. Well you have to play five guys, and so we got to figure out the guys that cannot turn the ball over.”
Despite the Aggies’ trouble handling the ball throughout the game, Flagg said he thinks there is a lot of upside with his teammates as the season continues.
“I felt like we were very raw,” Flagg said. “Going into it, everybody’s really hyped to play. We got a little bit away from our system. I feel like that showed on our turnover column. But I feel like we’re learning, and tomorrow when we come in for practice we’re going to get things going the right way.”
A&M found its strength in the fast break - scoring 31 points in transition. Jackson and starting guard Wendell Mitchell recorded a combined seven steals.
The Aggies also utilized its new additions on the court, playing four freshmen throughout the contest. Forward Yavuz Gultekin posted seven points and four rebounds in a reserve role.
A&M will open its regular season with Northwestern State on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at Reed Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network +.