No. 14 Texas A&M eyes resume-builder at gritty Virginia
No. 14 Texas A&M looks to continue to build on its resume with another game against a big-time opponent when it travels to play talented Virginia on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Virginia, in an ACC/SEC Challenge game.
Both teams are coming off bounce-back games in holiday tournaments.
The Aggies (6-1) head back on the road after returning to the winning track with a 73-69 win over Iowa State on Sunday in the third-place game in the ESPN Events Invitational in Orlando. The victory came after a 96-89 loss to FAU on Friday that handed Texas A&M its first setback of the year.
Solomon Washington, in his first start of the season, led the way Sunday with a career-high 18 points that included a career-high three 3-pointers. Wade Taylor IV added 14 points and the Aggies played without Henry Coleman III and Tyrece "Boots" Radford, who were out with ankle and respiratory issues, respectively.
Texas A&M was down by 21 points with just 2:44 remaining in the first half before cutting its deficit to 10 points at the break. The Aggies tied the game at 41 less than six minutes into the second half, took the lead at the 12:30 mark and never again relinquished the front the rest of the way.
"When you are down 21 with two and half minutes to play in the half, the competitive chemistry, charisma and maturity that we played with on the way to being down was the same when we were up," Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said. "There was a calmness about our fight. We had great strategy adjustments by our staff. It speaks, on so many levels, to the people of our program."
Williams expects the game with Virginia to be a grind. "Playing Virginia is like getting a root canal," he said. "It will be the slowest game we play all year. There is value in every possession. We have a lot of work to do."
The Cavaliers (5-1) head home after a gritty 56-54 win over West Virginia on Nov. 20 in the consolation final of the Fort Myers Tip-Off. Virginia was forced into the loser's bracket after a loss to Wisconsin on Monday in the event's first round.
Ryan Dunn finished with 13 points for Virginia and Reece Beekman added 12 in the win over West Virginia. The Cavaliers were outrebounded 41-28 but grabbed two offensive boards in the final eight seconds -- the first by Leon Bond III and the second by Dunn -- that allowed them to hold on for the victory.
"I'm a leader of the team and I have to choose the right time to be assertive," Dunn said. "Never force it and look to attack."
Virginia coach Tony Bennett credited Dunn for his production and leadership.
"Down the stretch, Ryan scored off the dribble and that's big time," Bennett said. "The game often comes down to making plays at certain times."
The loss to Wisconsin dropped the Cavaliers, who had been ranked 24th, out of the AP poll. In the two games in Fort Myers, Virginia hit just 8 of 42 from beyond the arc and were outrebounded 89-49.
--Field Level Media
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