Photo Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Preview: No. 18 Texas A&M locks up with No. 4 Alabama in SEC tournament title showdown
No. 18 Texas A&M shoots for its first SEC tournament title on Sunday while trying to deny fourth-ranked Alabama its second tournament crown in three years in Nashville, Tenn.
Top-seeded Alabama (28-5) used a second-half surge to knock off No. 25 and fourth-seeded Missouri 72-61 on Saturday, while second-seeded Texas A&M (25-8) dropped sixth-seeded Vanderbilt 87-75.
Texas A&M dominated Vanderbilt. The Aggies grabbed momentum by jumping out to a 14-point lead in the first eight minutes, then grabbed the 49-25 halftime advantage.
The Aggies forced Vanderbilt into more turnovers (12) than Commodores’ field goals (10) in the first half.
Vandy couldn’t get within 11 of Texas A&M the entire second half.
Wade Taylor IV finished with 25 points and four assists for the Aggies, who are seeking their first tournament title since joining the league prior to the 2012-2013 season.
Tyrece Radford added 16 points and five assists, and Julius Marble chipped in 13 points and four rebounds for Texas A&M, which has won 10 of its past 11 games.
“It’s a blessing,” Taylor said of the Aggies’ return to the tournament final. “We worked very hard to get back to this point. On Dec. 25, being 6-5, nobody thought we would be here. A blessing. We just got to complete the job.”
The Aggies fell 65-50 to Tennessee in last year’s final, costing the Aggies a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Alabama won the event in 2020.
“If we take care of business, we are going to be a No. 1 seed (in the NCAA Tournament),” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “Maybe even the No. 1 overall seed.”
The Crimson Tide outscored the Tigers 41-32 in the second half to roll to their 10th win in the past 12 games and a school-record 28th victory of the season.
Trailing 39-36 with 14:23 left, Alabama went on an 18-5 run to take a 52-42 lead it wouldn’t relinquish following Charles Bediako’s layup with 8:42 remaining.
Brandon Miller, the SEC player and freshman of the year, scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half and finished with 12 rebounds and four assists. Freshman Noah Clowney added 19 points, and Bediako, a sophomore, added 10 points and five assists. Freshman Noah Gurley had five points and five rebounds.
“They are a really mature group of freshmen,” Oats said. “They may be young, they may be freshmen, but they don’t act like it. They’ve got enough minutes under their belt that I don’t consider them freshmen anymore.”
In Alabama and Texas A&M’s lone regular-season meeting on March 4, the Aggies pulled away from the visiting Crimson Tide in the final four-plus minutes for a 67-61 victory.
Taylor had a career-high 28 points, and Radford added 21 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Dexter Dennis chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds for the Aggies.
Alabama was led by Miller’s 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Jahvon Quinerly added 12 points, and Clowney finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
–Field Level Media