Icy veins and five seconds is all it took for sophomore guard Marcus Williams to secure Texas A&M men’s basketball its first conference win of the season.
A&M advances its record to 12-2 and 1-0 in conference play after an 81-79 victory against Georgia. This win marks the Aggies’ first win of the new year and a confident start to a long journey of Southeastern Conference games.
The Aggies kicked off the first half with a pair of threes from junior guard Andre Gordon and sophomore guard Marcus Williams to give them an early 6-2 lead.
Halfway through the first, freshman guard Wade Taylor IV decided to join in on the fun with a 3-pointer of his own to give the maroon and white a 9-point lead.
A&M coach Buzz Williams’ tough defensive philosophy was put on display in the first half after Marcus Williams picked up the Aggies’ eighth steal of the game that led to sophomore guard Hassan Diarra’s first triple of the game and a 43-28 lead.
With a 12-point lead going into the second half, Georgia was in need of a change of momentum and got exactly that after a monstrous dunk from sophomore guard Kario Oquendo, who led the Bulldogs in scoring with 21 points. Following the dunk was a 13-0 run by the Bulldogs that cut the deficit to four with 15 minutes still remaining.
“I thought we did a lot of great things for the majority of the first half and a portion of the second half,” Buzz Williams said. “The thing that we struggled with in the second half was guarding the bounce.”
After a back-and-forth battle for the remainder of the game, Georgia found itself at a 1-point lead with just 5.5 seconds remaining in the game.
With the help of a screen from sophomore forward Henry Coleman III — chalked up on a play called “Kevin,” which had never been called in its nine years in Buzz’s playbook — Marcus Williams was able to catch the in-bounds pass and hit a pull-up 3-pointer to ice the game in the final seconds.
Coleman finished the game as the leading scorer with 23 points, and Marcus Williams followed right behind him with 18 points. As a team, the Aggies shot 47.8% from behind the arc, forced 12 steals and grabbed 31 rebounds in the 81-79 victory.
This marked the first time A&M has won in a conference opener game on the road since joining the SEC in 2012. The ability to grab 13 offensive rebounds to set up second chance points helped them significantly, Buzz Williams said.
“The value of a possession will never change,” Buzz Williams said. “Their response to being up 17 to being down one was Oregon State like from everyone in the group.”
The Aggies will return home to Reed Arena to face off against Arkansas on Saturday, Jan. 8. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m.