Aggies Pass Major Road Test, Upset #15 Auburn 79-63

Jan 26, 2023 - 6:30 AM
NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Auburn
Boots was in his bag, scoring 30 points and pulling down 9 boards. | John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a physical, hard fought loss to Kentucky on Saturday, the Aggies went back on the road to take on the #15 Auburn Tigers. Neville Arena had not been a welcoming environment for visitors in the past two plus seasons as the Tigers had built a nation’s best 28-game home winning streak. However, that all came crashing down as the Aggies reclaimed their dominance at Auburn with an authoritative 79-63 victory. The win moves Buzz Williams’s Ags to 14-6 on the season with a 6-1 record in SEC play. Texas A&M is now 6-1 at Auburn since joining the SEC in 2012, with their only loss coming last year.

It was a big night for Boots Radford. After posting 22 points and 4 rebounds in the loss at Kentucky, he followed that up with a 30 point, 9 board performance against the Tigers. Radford was fearless in attacking the rim while also knocking down a pair of three pointers. Wade Taylor returned to form, picking up 15 points and 4 assists while going 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. Julius Marble and Henry Coleman battled on the interior and persevered against Auburn’s big man Johni Broome. While Marble and Coleman only scored 9 points and 7 points, respectively, they each hit clutch buckets at crucial times to neutralize a Tiger run.

The Tigers opened the game on a 10-2 run thanks to some hot shooting in the first two and a half minutes. Texas A&M countered by outscoring Auburn 43-20 over the next 17:30 of the first half. The Ags were on fire in the opening frame, hitting 58.6% of their field goals, including 6 of 11 attempts from deep. Even from the early stages, it was clear that A&M placed a heavy emphasis on winning the battle of the boards while eliminating turnovers. The offensive possessions were very controlled with good ball movement. The Aggies took control of the game with just under nine minutes remaining in the first half, scoring on seven straight possessions to open an 8 point lead. A&M kept up the defensive pressure for the remainder of the half, and the Ags put an exclamation point on the period with an Andersson Garcia steal that led to a breakaway dunk and a foul, extending the lead to 13 with a minute until the intermission.

A&M came out of the break with a 15 point advantage and maintained control throughout the second half. Each Auburn run was met with a swift response by the Aggies to wrestle control of the game back. The Tigers narrowed the gap to 9 points just 5 minutes into the second frame, but a Radford triple slammed the door shut and halted the home team’s momentum. AU would make another small run to cut the lead back to 9 with six minutes raming, but Boots answered again with an athletic hanging jumper from the edge of the pain that also drew a foul on the Tigers. Auburn would make one final charge with three and a half minutes remaining, but A&M’s strong free throw shooting put the game away in over the next three possessions.

All things considered it was an excellent showing for the Aggies. A&M entered the game as a 4.5-point underdog according to Vegas oddsmakers. The Aggies took the fight to the Tigers and showed their ability to control game against a top tier opponent down the stretch. Auburn’s length did disrupt some of the entry passes to the bigs and interior shots, but the Aggie guards did an excellent job at avoiding the Tiger shot blockers on the interior when attacking the paint. Texas A&M shot the ball well, hitting 47.3% from the floor, 36.8% from deep, and 83.3% from the line. The Ags took care of the basketball, limiting themselves to 9 turnovers, while forcing Auburn into 13 turnovers on 8 steals. A&M also won the battle of the boards, 33-28. Doing this on the road against a top 15 opponent is a definite resume builder, and it gives the Aggies their second Quad 1 win of the season as well as their second win over a ranked opponent.

A&M returns home to face Jerry Stackhouse’s Vanderbilt Commodores at 7:30 PM on Saturday at Reed Arena. The Commodores are 10-10 on the year, but they have a 3-4 SEC record with wins over Arkansas and Georgia. This will also be the Aggies’ annual BTHO Breast Cancer game, so find some hot pink to accentuate your white shirt. The last two national broadcasts have both mentioned the home court advantage that the Aggies have created, so PACK REED and bring the energy.

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