The 25th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (20-7, 12-2 SEC) continued to make statement after statement during their incredible run in SEC play, most recently defeating the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks 62-56 Tuesday night, followed by their 69 – 60 road romp against Missouri on Saturday night, reaching 12-2 in conference play, and just one game behind the Alabama Crimson Tide with four regular season games remaining.
Who is on deck this week? Perhaps the toughest opponent the Aggies will face so far this season, as the 11th ranked Tennessee Volunteers (20-7, 9-5 SEC) arrive Tuesday night to what could be a sold out Reed Arena, following his road loss in Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Rick Barnes’ team hasn’t had the best February, losing four of its last six games, but had an impressive home win against Alabama last Wednesday. For the Aggies, a win against Tennesee would mean a sixth Quad 1 win, their 13th conference win, and a virtual NCAA Tournament lockout.
The Volunteers are led by senior guard and sharpshooter Santiago Vescovi, averaging 12.5 points per game, while sophomore guard Zakai Zeigler averaged 10.8 points per game, 5.4 assists and 2.0 steals per game, followed by forward Oliver Nkamhoua at 10.5 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game. Defensively, Tennessee consistently frustrates every offense it comes into contact with, ranking as the third-best scoring defense in the country at 56.7 points per game, limiting sixth-ranked offense Alabama to just 59 points and 35 .4% from the field.
The Aggies are currently ranked as the 68th most respectable scoring defense at 65.9 points per game, so we’re guessing this will be a driving, knockout defensive slugfest, which obviously plays into the hands of Coach Buzz Williams’ offensive scheme , who wants to slow down the game as much as possible to penetrate the playing area, and eventually get to the free throw line, from which 25% of their offensive output comes.
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Against Missouri, second-year scorer Wade Taylor IV shined with his third 20+ point game in his last four, posting 21 points including 4-7 on threes, paired with Wichita State transfer guard Dexter Dennis with 17 points and 10 double rebounds. double, also going 3-7 from deep, showcasing Texas A&M’s marked improvement on the perimeter during their five-game hitting streak.
A key lead in the matchup is Tennesee’s recent performance out of Thompson-Boling Arena, currently 4-4 on the road, the Volunteers have lost 3 of their last six on the road, scoring 54, 65 and 54 points in each loss. So keeping the score low is a must to keep the game close at hand, and if trends can be trusted, the Aggies are in good shape for Tuesday.
Texas A&M vs. Tennessee is scheduled for Tuesday, February 21 at 6:00 PM CT. and will air on ESPN. Oh, and it’s a blackout, y’all.
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The story originally appeared on Aggies Wire