BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Fueled by Wade Taylor IV's 18 points and Dexter Dennis's double-double, the Texas A&M men's basketball team rallied past the Arkansas Razorbacks for a 62-56 win in front of a raucous crowd of 11,315 on Wednesday at Reed Arena.
The Aggies' fourth-straight victory improved team's season record to 19-7 and extended the fastest SEC start in program history to 11-2 in conference play. It is the best conference start in any league since Billy Gillispie's 2006-07 Sweet 16 team bolted to a 12-2 start in the Big 12 Conference.
Already in second place in the SEC standings, the Aggies inched closer to top-ranked Alabama, which fell to 12-1 after dropping its first league game with a 68-59 loss to Tennessee earlier in the night.
Down nine points at halftime, the Aggies came out blazing in the second half and took their first lead since the first minute of the game at 38-37 with a 14-4 run at the 14:49 mark. The two heavyweights exchanged the lead a couple of times over the next four minutes before Arkansas started to pull away with a five-point advantage at 9:27.
But the resilient Aggies refused to blink and slowly began chipping away at the lead. They took the lead for good at the 3:14 mark and then held the Hogs scoreless for most of the final three minutes except for a 3-point play with :12 seconds left as the Aggies tallied the important six-point victory.
Taylor IV, the sophomore from Dallas, had just two points at halftime, but hit big shot after big shot in the second half, including a perfect 3-of-3 on 3-pointers and 3-of-3 clean sheet on free throws. He also dished out four assists, while suffering only two turnovers.
Dennis, the graduate transfer from Wichita State, tallied his third double-double of the season and eighth of his career with a 14-point, 11-rebound effort while also chipping in a pair of blocks and a steal. Fellow graduate Tyrece Radford hit double-digits in his eighth-straight SEC game with 12 points. Andersson Garcia did the dirty work with 10 rebounds, including four offensive boards, off the bench.
The Aggies overcame a tough shooting night of 35% from the field by hitting 50.0 from the 3-point line with six treys and knocking down 18-of-22 from the free throw line (81.8%). After allowing 33 first-half points, the Aggies limited the Razorbacks to only 23 in the second half, which was the first time the Aggies had allowed fewer than 32 points after halftime in SEC play this season.
Texas A&M Men's Basketball Postgame Quotes/Notes
Texas A&M 62, Arkansas 56
Reed Arena (Bryan-College Station, Texas)
Head Coach Buzz Williams
Thoughts on tonight's game...
"They just don't flinch. They are very accepting of who they are, who we are, what we have to do, why we have to do it. Very low ego. Great humility. Incredible togetherness. They play with the right kind of chip, with zero selfishness. So many things have to transpire to win 11 out of 13 games. So many things have to transpire when you start 6-5. None of it is possible without the elite character of all of the people in the program."
Sophomore Guard Wade Taylor
What was said during halftime to turn the game around...
"We just needed to start being us, instead of the team that played in the first half. Ending the first half, (Hayden) Hefner making that shot gave us a lot of momentum going into the locker room. That kind of showed us that we were still good and that if we could come out during the second half and get stops and make shots then we would be alright."
Graduate Guard Dexter Dennis
Was this one of the most emotional games you have played...
"I feel like every game is like that. We all feel that we are playing for something bigger than ourselves. Every week and every game, we think that this is the biggest game of our careers. Emotionally, physically, and mentally, we are really invested all the time."
RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
- Texas A&M defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks, 62-56, Wednesday night at Reed Arena.
- The Aggies are off to their best conference start in school history, improving to 11-2 and remain undefeated at home in SEC play.
- Three players finished in double figures for the 10th time this season.
- The Aggies tallied their eighth double-double of the season.
- The Maroon & White outrebounded the Razorbacks, 36-33.
- Texas A&M used the starting lineup combination of Henry Coleman III, Dexter Dennis, Julius Marble, Tyrece Radford and Wade Taylor IV for the 17th time this season (14-3).
Henry Coleman III
- Scored seven points and collected five rebounds.
- Registered his third double-double of the season after finishing with 14 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
- Tallied double figures for the 12th time this season and the 62nd of his career.
- Hauled in a career-high 10 rebounds.
- Recorded 12 points and three rebounds, marking the 18th time this season he's scored 10 or more points.
Wade Taylor IV
- Led all players with 18 points.
- Marks the 13th time this season he's made three or more triples.
- Tallied double figures for the 20th time this season and 354th of his career.
- Dished out a team-high four assists to lead the team in assists for the 19th time this season.