Men's Basketball vs. Wisconsin recap

Junior guard Andre Gordon spoke on the physicality of the Wisconsin basketball team and their early lead in response to the Aggie's 69-58 loss to the Badgers. 

After starting its season with a dominant, four-game undefeated streak, Texas A&M men’s basketball has suffered its first loss.

Played at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, the Aggies’ first matchup of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational did not go as the maroon and white intended. Instead, the Wisconsin Badgers mounted a 17-point comeback in the first half before holding onto their lead in a last-ditch effort, good until time expired, locking the score at 69-58.

A&M started with ferocity, taking a 13-2 lead before four minutes had even ticked off the clock. Not long after, an 8-0 run put the Aggies up by 16 points — Wisconsin’s largest deficit of the game.

The maroon and white continued to surge, draining seven 3-pointers in the first half. This marked the first time A&M had accomplished this feat since facing the Arkansas Razorbacks on March 6, 2020. A pair of guards, sophomore Andre Gordon and graduate student Quenton Jackson, co-led the team in threes by the end of the match, as each player bucketed from beyond the arc on three different occasions.

“I think we were just locked in,” Gordon said of A&M’s early success. “We prepared to start well for the game because in previous games we didn't start well. We were amped up. We were just ready to fight.”

After recovering from being initially caught off guard, Wisconsin surged back. The Badgers outscored the Aggies 25-8 through the remainder of the first half, carrying a slim, 1-point margin to go into the break. This comeback was heavily contrasted by the teams’ field goal shooting success in the first half, as A&M bested Wisconsin in this aspect by 10%, and another 23% on 3-pointers.

“I wouldn't say it caught us off guard, but I don't think we expected it to be that physical,” Jackson said of Wisconsin’s ability to take the lead just before the first half ended. “When it happened, I don't think we responded the way we should. That's one thing that we have to try to figure out.”

Wisconsin went on another run after the half, good for a 15-3 edge. With this, Wisconsin took its biggest lead of the game: 16 points, the same advantage held by the Aggies in the first half. This didn’t last long, however, as the Badgers stalled.

A&M mounted a late comeback of its own, holding Wisconsin to just one field goal in the final nine minutes of the game. Three more 3-pointers brought A&M within seven points, but time stalled before the maroon and white could reclaim the lead and secure their fifth win of the season.

“It's a five-possession game, and those five possessions were kind of right there in the middle of the game,” Williams said of A&M’s mid-game slump, which ultimately gave Wisconsin the lead for the first time. “We ended fine. We started great.”

The two teams split advantages in various statistical facets, falling in line with the matchup’s three lead changes and three times tied. A&M bested Wisconsin in fast breaks, 13-5; points off the bench, 24-6; 3-pointers made, 10-8; and assists, 11-10. The Badgers held an edge in points in the paint, 26-16; second chances, 15-5; time with lead, 19:44-17:44; and longest scoring run, 15-11.

“The thing that we struggled with is we need all five [athletes on the court] to play with great discipline and great execution for a longer stretch, whoever those five are,” Williams said. “We turned the ball over at too high of a rate, then gave them too many extra possessions on the offensive glass. I thought that that was the difference in the game.”

In a more positive aspect of the game, multiple Aggies had standout showings. Freshman forward Javonte Brown matched his career-high of two blocks, and Jackson and sophomore forward Henry Coleman III led the team with two steals apiece. Sophomore guard Marcus Williams recorded five assists for his 16th team-leading performance since joining the maroon and white.

A&M still has two chances to find the win column before the tournament concludes, with the first coming in a matchup against the Butler University Bulldogs, who also lost their first matchup of the invitational. Tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m., and the game can be streamed on ESPN2.

“That's just how the game goes. Win or lose, you have to be thinking what's next,” Jackson said. “You can't be thinking too much about the fact that you lost; it clouds your judgment. We’ve got to have a good mind going to the next game so we can focus on what's coming next.”

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