NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The No. 18 Texas A&M men’s basketball team punched its ticket to an SEC Tournament Championship game for a second straight year with an 87-75 rout of the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena. It is the second time in program history the Aggies have advanced to a conference tournament final in back-to-back years, joining Shelby Metcalf’s 1985-86 and 1986-87 teams.
The second-seeded Aggies will face top-seeded Alabama at 12 noon on Sunday with the SEC’s automatic bid on the line. Sunday’s title game matchup will be a rematch of both teams’ regular season finale which the Aggies won 67-61 in front of a raucous sellout crowd at Reed Arena. The victory was the Aggies’ fifth straight in the series, and Texas A&M is 3-0 against the Crimson Tide in the Buzz Williams era.
The Aggies, who improved to 25-8 overall, came out smoking in the first half as they streaked to a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into the game. By halftime, the Maroon & White had forged a commanding 49-25 lead. While Vanderbilt continued to battle the Commodore never got closer than 11 points after the break. The 87 points were the most the Aggies have scored in an SEC Tournament game.
Sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV played like the first-team All-SEC selection that he is with a game-high 25 points while hitting four 3-pointers and 6-of-7 from the free throw line while dishing out four assists. He was joined in double figures by graduate Tyrece Radford, who filled the stat sheet with 16 points, five assists and four rebounds. Junior Julius Marble also chipped in 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting and gathered four boards. Graduate Dexter Dennis had a team-high seven rebounds while also scoring nine and posting three assists.
The Aggies started the game fast, garnering a six-point advantage by the first media timeout that bulged into a 14-point lead by the second at 11:25. The first half scoring onslaught came from up and down the lineup with seven players contributing at least three points and Radford and Marble leading the way with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Aggies connected on 69.0% of their field goals in the initial stanza, which was the best shooting first half in six seasons. While the offense was pouring in the points, the defense was stifling the Commodores. The Aggies opened the game with consecutive turkeys and went on to force 12 turnovers and limit VU to just 25 first half points.
For the game, the Aggies hit season highs in field goal percentage at 60.0% on 31-of-52 shooting and 3-point percentage at 53.0% on 10-of-19 shooting from the arc. Texas A&M controlled the boards with a 30-21 advantage in rebounding. The Aggies assisted on 20 of their 31 total field goals.
Texas A&M Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Texas A&M 87, Vanderbilt 75
Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, Tenn.)
RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
• Texas A&M defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores, 87-75, in the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
• The Aggies advance to the SEC Championship game for the second straight year.
• The all-time series against the Commodores moves to 8-10.
• The Aggies improve to 25-8 overall and 2-0 on the season against the Commodores.
• The Maroon & White move to 9-9 in the SEC Tournament with head coach Buzz Williams improving to 5-2.
• Texas A&M scored 49 points in the first half, marking the most points in a first half in an SEC Tournament game.
• The Aggies’ 87 points set a program record in points in an SEC Tournament game.
• Texas A&M swished 10 3-pointers, the second-most this season, while also recording double-digit triples for the third time this season.
• The Maroon & White dished out 20 assists, also the second-most this season.
• A&M finished 10-of-19 from three to finish with a season-high 53% 3-point field goal percentage.
• Texas A&M outrebounded Vanderbilt with a 30-21 rebounding advantage.
• The Aggies shot a season-high 60% from the field.
• Texas A&M used the starting lineup combination of Henry Coleman III, Dexter Dennis, Julius Marble, Tyrece Radford and Wade Taylor IV for the 23rd time this season (19-4).
Henry Coleman III
• Scored six points and collected four rebounds.
• Swiped a team-high three steals.
• Tallied nine points and hauled in seven rebounds.
• Dished out three assists.
• Hauled in five rebounds.
• Drained his third 3-pointer of the season, while finishing with five points.
• Recorded an assist and a steal.
• Scored five points and dished out two assists.
• Drained two 3-pointers to finish with six points.
• Registered two rebounds and two assists.
• Finished with 16 points to tally double digit points for the 16th time this season and the 24th in his career.
• Collected four rebounds and had a steal.
• Registered double figures for the fourth straight game after tallying 16 points.
• Has scored double digit points in 13 of the last 15 games.
• Finished in double figures for the 24th time this season and 82nd of his career.
• Collected four rebounds.
• Dished out a team-high five assists.
Wade Taylor IV
• Led the team with 25 points to lead the team for the 17th time this season and the 21st time of his career.
• Scored 20 or more points for the 11th time this season.
• Registered double figures for the 10th straight game.
• Tallied double digit points for the 26th time this season and the 42nd time of his career.
• Dished out four assists and had a steal.
• Registered two points and two rebounds.
• Also swiped a steal.