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Pair of SEC leaders clash in Reed

Men's basketball hosts No. 10 Florida

Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 03:01

FLA basketball photo 1

Tanner Garza -- THE BATTALION

Junior guard Fabyon Harris looks to find his rhythm against Florida.

Texas A&M basketball players have taken to Twitter to sound off on a high-profile Aggie who will be in Reed Arena for Thursday’s matchup of Southeastern Conference leaders A&M and No. 10 Florida: “Johnny Basketball.”

Johnny Manziel will be on hand to watch the follow-up to the defining win of second-year head coach Billy Kennedy’s stint with the men’s basketball team — an 83-71 win over defending national champion Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. He’ll look to top it at home against Florida, the top-ranked team in the SEC.

Senior guard Elston Turner hit Kentucky with every facet of his game and — when the final buzzer sounded and his team’s game-ending 11-0 run had sealed the win — he had 40 points and six made three-pointers on 14-19 shooting. The performance garnered him national attention as the National Player of the Week and in-conference respect with an SEC Player of the Week nod.

Florida (12-2, 2-0) and A&M are knotted at the top of the SEC along with three other teams. The Gators feature a balanced offensive approach with four players averaging better than 10 points per game — led by senior guard Kenny Boykin’s 13.8 — and seven players averaging more than 6.5.

Kennedy said Florida shapes up as a team capable of going deep in the NCAA tournament.

“They are very good, experienced and really good defensively,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been really impressed with their defense. Everybody knows Florida can shoot the ball. I think they made 13 three-point shots against us last year and they have all those guys back. This is a team that is capable of getting to the Final Four. They were really good last year and they are an experienced veteran club.”

Beyond Elston’s team-leading 17.1 points per game, senior forward Ray Turner (11.4 points per game) and junior guard Fabyon Harris (10.5) supply a bulk of the remaining Aggie offense.

Florida enters the contest coming off conference blowouts of Georgia (77-44) and LSU (74-52).

Elston said A&M looks to maintain momentum against Florida. He impressed national spectators and advisors with his performance, but it seems he impressed one more: his dad.

“Normally, if I do have a good game, he will still find something bad to say about it,” Elston said. “He said there was something different about that game. He told me that whatever I did in that game needed to happen again. He said I needed to take the same approach to every game that I took to that game."


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