Nationally ranked Texas A&M continues to play its best basketball at the right time of the year.
The No. 25 Aggies enter Saturday’s Southeastern Conference road matchup against Mississippi State seeking their seventh consecutive win. A&M (21-7, 13-2 SEC) stretched its win streak to six Tuesday with a 68-63 victory over No. 11 Tennessee.
The 13 conference wins are tied for the second most in school history. That success, in part, is attributed to the Aggies’ ability to win hard-fought games, as was the case against the Vols. The teams were tied at 31-31 at the half.
“It starts with practice,” junior forward Julius Marble told 12thman.com. “The coaching staff prepares us for situations where we have to get a stop … to win the game. It’s echoed throughout the team and we practice that all the time, so we are always poised in that situation.”
While the Aggies are on a roll, the Bulldogs are coming off a 66-64 overtime loss at Missouri.
Mississippi State had a 34-31 halftime lead and were tied with the Tigers at 57-57 at the end of regulation.
Tolu Smith played well in the loss, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double in the last 12 games and ninth this season. He has scored in double figures in 12 consecutive games.
The Bulldogs (18-10, 6-9) need every win they can get to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
Head coach Chris Jans is confident the fate of his team is in its own hands.
“This isn’t a conference race. We’re not in that,” Jans told The Clarion Ledger. “I’ve been in those situations where you’re going down the stretch and you need help from someone else to win a championship. That’s not the situation we’re in. We control our own destiny.”
Mississippi State is 6-2 in its last eight after enduring a five-game losing streak. Smith leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 14.9 points per outing. He’s the lone Bulldogs player averaging in double figures.
A&M had three players in double figures in its upset of the Vols, with Marble pouring in 21 points and Wade Taylor IV matching his career-high with 25. Tyrece Radford added 10 points, marking his 10th game in a row in double figures.
Taylor, Radford and Marble are the top three scorers on the team, with Taylor leading the way at 15.9 points per game. Radford is putting up 13.3 points per outing and Marble is just under 10 points per game (9.7).
The Aggies are 6-3 on the road, while Bulldogs are 10-4 at home.
–Field Level Media