COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M men’s basketball team makes the first trip to Rupp Arena of the Buzz Williams era for a 1 p.m. matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.
After five straight games vs. first-year SEC head coaches (all wins), the Aggies face a UK squad led 30-year coaching veteran John Calipari.
Two of Texas A&M’s four total wins over UK have been at Rupp: 73-69 on 1/22/1978 and 83-71 on 1/12/2013.
TRENDS & STREAKS:
Texas A&M has opened SEC play with a 5-0 record for the second time in program history. The only other Aggie squad to start SEC play with five straight wins was the 2015-15 team.
Transfers have been key in the 5-0 SEC start with Dexter Dennis (Wichita State) slashing just shy of a double-double (11.6 pts/9.6 rebs) and Julius Marble (Michigan State) averaging a team-best 15.6/g.
The Aggies have won nine straight SEC regular season matchups dating back to 2021-22, which is the longest since joining elite league. It’s the Aggies’ longest in any conference since an 11-game streak against Southwest Conference foes more than 40 years ago (last two of 1978-79 and first nine of 1979-80).
In the 5-0 SEC start, the Aggies have trailed for a combined 5 minutes and 25 seconds. The Aggies have not trailed in the past 107 minutes and 36 seconds dating back to a 14-13 lead by Missouri at the 12:24 mark of the first half on 1/11.
The Aggies are allowing an average of 20.2 first-half points in SEC play, while limiting opponents to 26.4 FG% / 17.9 3-PT% in the first stanza.
The Aggies’ seven-game winning streak is the team’s longest since closing out the 2021-22 regular season with four victories and winning three games to reach the 2022 SEC tournament final.
Texas A&M and Alabama go into the weekend tied for the longest active winning streak by a SEC team (Nation’s 8th-longest active win streak).
The Aggies have used the same starting lineup (Coleman III, Dennis, Marble, Radford and Taylor IV) for the last seven games.
During the 7-game win streak, Tyrece Radford is team’s leading scorer at 14.3 points while hitting 52.2% of his FGs and 37.5% of his 3-pointers. In the 11 games prior, Radford was slashing 10.8 pts/31.5%/27.5%.
In the ‘straw that stirs the drink’ category, Wade Taylor IV leads the team in points, 3-pointers, free throw %, assists and steals.
FIRST HALF CLAMPS:
Texas A&M has limited its past two opponents to a combined 30 points in the first half -- 18 at South Carolina and 12 vs. Florida.
In research dating back to 1996-97, the combined 30 first-half points allowed vs. SC and UF is the fewest in back to back games. Similarly it’s the first time that the Aggies have allowed fewer than 20 first-half points in consecutive games (since at least 1996-97).
In fact, the Aggies have been consistently stingy in the first half of its five SEC games, allowing just 101 points (20.2 avg) and limiting shooters to 26.4% on FGs and 17.9% on 3-point tries.
First Half Defense vs. SEC Opponents
Team FG/FGA (Pct.) 3FG/3FGA (Pct.) Pts.
at Florida (1/4) 9-24 (.375) 2-10 (.200) 23
LSU (1/7) 8-28 (.286) 4-14 (.286) 23
Missouri (1/11) 7-23 (.304) 1-10 (.100) 25
at S. Carolina (1/14) 7-24 (.292) 2-11 (.182) 18
Florida (1/18) 2-26 (.077) 1-11 (.091) 12
Total 33-125 (.264) 10-56 (.179) 101
IN SEC GAMES ONLY:
Julius Marble ranks No. 9 in scoring at 15.6/g and No. 3 in FG% at 53.4%.
Dennis Dennis ranks No. 2 in rebounding at 9.6/g and No. 2 in defensive rebounds at 7.0/g.
Wade Taylor IV is tied for No. 4 in assists at 4.0/g and ranks No. 7 in assist/turnover ratio at 1.33. He is hitting 93.8% of the FTA (tNo. 2).
Henry Coleman III is tied for No. 3 in offensive rebounds at 3.0/g.
Boosted by a 48-16 rebounding advantage vs. South Carolina, the Aggies lead the SEC with a 12.6 rebounding margin.
The team ranks No. 2 in scoring defense, allowing just 57.6 pts/g. The Aggies are the only team to allow fewer than 300 points in SEC games (288 points).
The Aggies rank No. 3 in scoring margin at +15.4 and tied for No. 4 in scoring offense at 73.0 pts/g.
TOP 10 TAYLOR:
Sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV, the 6-foot do-it-all dynamo from Dallas, Texas, ranks in the top 10 in the SEC in a wide array of statistical categories:
Statistic Average SEC Rank
Points 15.2 No. 8
Assists 3.7 No. 7
Assist/To Ratio 1.57 No. 10
Steals 1.8 No. 8
Free Throws 73 total No. 5
FT Attempts 89 total No. 8
FT% 82.0% No. 4
3-pointers 2.2 No. 8
3-point attempts 109 total No. 7
Little Big Man:
Despite generally being one of the shorter players on the court, the 6-foot-2 Tyrece Radford makes a huge impact in the paint.
NCAA “Major Conferences” Offensive Rebounds Leaders (6’ 2” or shorter)
Rk Player, School Ht. ORebs
1. Tyrece Radford, Texas A&M 6-2 1.9
Posh Alexander, St. John’s 6-0 1.9
3. Erice Reed Jr., Mississippi State 6-2 1.4
4. Deivon Smith, Georgia Tech 6-1 1.4
5. Jahmir Young, Maryland 6-1 1.2
SEC Rebounds Leaders (6’ 2” or shorter)
Rk Player, School Ht. Rebs
1. Tyrece Radford , Texas A&M 6-2 5.3
2. Trae Hannibal, LSU 6-2 4.6
3. Meechie Johnson Jr., South Carolina 6-2 4.1
4. Mark Sears, Alabama 6-1 4.0
5. Wendell Green Jr., Auburn 5-11 3.6
Tyrece Radford is getting to the line and hitting the freebies at a significantly higher rate in his fourth season as a collegian.
After averaging only 2.5 free throw attempts per game for the first three years of his career, Radford is making 5.2 trips to the charity stripe per game in 2022-23.
Radford has already hit 76 free throws in just 18 games. His previous high season total was 56 from his freshman season at Virginia Tech (56-of-81) when he played 32 games.
Radford’s 80.9 FT% is markedly improved from last year when he hit 67.1% from the line. Radford’s three-year FT% entering 2022-23 was 70.6%.
SEC Free Throw Leaders
Rk Player, School FT Made
1. Wendell Green Jr., Auburn 87
2. Rick Council IV, Arkansas 79
3. Tyrece Radford, Texas A&M 76
4. Colin Castlelon, Florida 74
5. Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M 73
Brandon Miller, Alabama 73
80% Free Throw Shooters in the SEC
Rk Player, School FT-FTA FT %
1. Wendell Green Jr., Auburn 87-103 .845
2. Matthew Murrell, Ole Miss 54-64 .844
3. Brandon Miller, Alabama 73-87 .839
4. Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M 73-89 .820
5. Terry Roberts, Georgia 54-66 .818
6. Julian Phillips, Tennessee 65-80 .813
7. Tyrece Radford, Texas A&M 76-94 .809
8. Mark Sears, Alabama 66-82 .805
Since trailing Northwestern State for the first 21:35 of the 12/27 meeting, by as many as 15 points at one point, the Aggies have trailed just 7:43 since over next 257 minutes and 54 seconds.
Dexter Dennis’ 16 rebounds vs. Florida on 1/18 was the most by Aggies vs. a SEC opponents since Robert Williams had 16 vs. Missouri on 2/8/2017. Interestingly, Texas A&M Radio Network analyst John Thornton had 17 rebounds against Baylor on 2/14/1974.
Easily the Aggies’ most prolific shooter from deep, Wade Taylor IV has improved his 3-point % by nearly .10 from last year. Taylor is hitting 36.7% in 2022-23 after making 27.8% as a freshman.
The Aggies’ starting lineup has a definite Pelican State flavor with at least two Louisiana natives in it for every game so far this season - Tyrece Radford (Baton Rouge) and Dexter Dennis (Baker).
The Aggies have used the same starting lineup (Coleman III, Dennis, Marble, Radford and Taylor IV) for the last seven games (all wins). For the season, the fivesome is 8-1 with the lone loss coming to Boise State on Dec. 3.
The defensive-minded duo of Andersson Garcia and Andre Gordon have been the first players off the bench in five of the last six games.
The Aggies’ 2022-23 roster was bolstered by the addition of six newcomers in the offseason -- five transfers and one scholarship freshman. Headlining the group was Dexter Dennis, who was the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year at Wichita State in 2021-22, and Julius Marble, who helped Michigan State advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Both have earned spots in the starting five.
A nugget in the Jan. 12, 2021 Associated Press recap of Virginia Tech’s win over Duke included legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski describing Radford’s 18-point, 12-rebound, 6-assist effort in the victory: “The kid Radford was the best player on the court. Double-double, but his intensity, how hard he played really helps their team immensely.”