The Texas A&M men’s basketball team survived its first big test of the season. The No. 15 Aggies (2-0) pulled out a 73-66 win over Ohio State (1-1) on the road Friday in the Schottenstein Center.
Guards Wade Taylor IV (21) and Tyrece Radford (21), and power forward Henry Coleman III (20) accounted for most of A&M’s scoring. Two Buckeye players, guard Bruce Thornton (24) and forward Jamison Battle (10), reached double figures as well.
The Aggies will remain on the road and face SMU in Moody Coliseum next Tuesday (7 p.m. on ESPN+). Here are three takeaways from their victory over Ohio State.
Biggest non-conference win of the Buzz Williams Era
Going into this game, A&M had never won a Quadrant I matchup in non-conference play under head coach Buzz Williams.
That reality played a major role in why the Aggies were left out of the NCAA Tournament in 2021 and received a worse-than-expected seventh seed last season. It also explains why, after previously playing weak slates to begin each season under Williams, A&M beefed up its 2023-24 non-conference schedule.
So come Selection Sunday, this victory could be quite meaningful for the Aggies.
For this game to ultimately qualify as a Quad I win for A&M, Ohio State needs to finish the regular season ranked among the top 75 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET). Despite going 16-19 last season, the Buckeyes placed 49th in the NET. So unless their season goes completely off the rails, which seems highly unlikely, they should easily be in the top 75 again.
The Aggies also won this game despite playing far from their best. They shot poorly for much of the game, going 42.9% (27 of 63) from the floor and 16.7% (3 of 18). They had 10 of their shots blocked. Their bench produced only seven points. And star point guard Wade Taylor started the game shooting 1 of 10 from the floor.
Now, Ohio State is probably still not at the level it played when winning 107 games across five years before regressing last season. Not to mention, the preseason Big Ten media poll picked the Buckeyes to place eighth in their vaunted conference.
Still, A&M won a game it probably would have lost in previous seasons. And this win should carry a lot of value four months from now.
Radford, Coleman and second-half Taylor came up huge
When Taylor did not play his best last season, the Aggies usually lost or played down to their competition. It would not be surprising if A&M had a similar problem at times this season. But in this game, Radford and Coleman helped the Aggies overcome a slow start from Taylor.
Radford often overpowered Ohio State with his dominant hand, taking defenders off the dribble to the left and creating favorable opportunities for himself in the paint. He went 8 of 17 from the floor, 1 of 5 from 3-point range and 4 of 6 from the free throw line.
Coleman took advantage of an aggressive Buckeye defense, finding openings in the middle and on rolling actions. He went 8 of 14 from the field and 4 of 4 from the free throw line while grabbing 11 rebounds, including nine in the first half.
Taylor began the game ice cold, recording five points on 1-of-9 shooting in the first half. To start the second half, Taylor badly missed the rim and hit the backboard on a wide open 3-pointer. However, Taylor quickly recovered with back-to-back floaters en route to an impressive 16-point second half.
Backup forward Andersson Garcia deserves credit for his effort on the glass. He grabbed 13 rebounds, including seven offensively. His aggressiveness helped A&M obtain a 45-35 rebounding advantage. The Aggies outscored the Buckeyes in second chance points (19-9) and points in the paint (38-30) as well.
The Aggies have bigger challenges coming up
With hindsight at the end of the season, Ohio State likely will not rank among the top three in terms of A&M’s toughest non-conference games. The Aggies seem to have bigger challenges in the coming weeks.
Their non-conference slate includes home games against Oral Roberts (Nov. 17) and Memphis (Dec. 10), road games at SMU (Nov. 14) and Virginia (Nov. 29), and neutral site games vs. Penn State (Nov. 23 at the ESPN Events Invitational Kissimmee, Fla.) and No. 7 Houston (Dec. 16 at the Toyota Center in Houston).
Following its matchup with Penn State, A&M will have two other games in the ESPN Events Invitational. The other six teams in the tournament are No. 10 Florida Atlantic, Virginia Tech, Butler, Boise State, VCU and Iowa State.
So the Aggies can’t afford to relax after this victory. Their B- performance would not win them some of their games coming up like it did vs. the Buckeyes. Plus, A&M has a prime opportunity to build one of the better resumes in the country going into SEC play.
To play their best, the Aggies will first need more from their wings and overall bench.
Starting wing Hayden Hefner caught fire in the season-opening win over Texas A&M-Commerce, scoring a career-high 19 points. But he did not create many scoring opportunities for himself against Ohio State, totaling four points (1-of-3 shooting) across 27 minutes.
The two primary backup wings, new transfers Eli Lawrence (Middle Tennessee State) and Jace Carter (University of Illinois-Chicago), had a minimal impact, too. Lawrence (two points on 1-of-2 shooting in six minutes) and Carter (zero points on 0-of-1 shooting in 18 minutes) combined to score two points across 24 minutes.
Postgame press conference videos
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann, Williams, Coleman and Radford answered questions from reporters following the game. The videos from those press conferences can be seen below, courtesy of our Ohio State site at 247Sports.
Coleman and Radford video
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