Texas A&M didn’t expect to slice through the Southeastern Conference unscathed, despite a nearly perfect run through its nonconference season and its highest ranking ever in the AP poll.
The No. 5 Aggies also didn’t expect to get blown out.
But that’s exactly what happened in the SEC opener, as short-handed Texas A&M was picked apart in a 79-57 loss at Alabama on Saturday. The Aggies definitely had their issues in their second loss this season.
“We’ve got guys playing out of position,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “And we looked like a dysfunctional team and that’s because we were.”
The Aggies (11-2, 0-1) look to get back on track Tuesday night in their first home contest of the conference season, as Florida visits Reed Arena.
Texas A&M was without its leading scorer, D.J. Hogg (suspended), and guard Admon Gilder (knee) against Alabama. Robert Williams and Duane Wilson suffered injuries against the Crimson Tide.
Hogg won’t be back against the Gators. As for the injured players, Kennedy isn’t sure when they’ll return.
Others will need to step up, he said. Tyler Davis and Williams each scored 14 against Alabama.
The Aggies, however, shot only 2 of 21 from 3-point range (9.5 percent), including misses on their first 10 attempts from long range. Overall, A&M shot a season-low 30 percent from the field (21-of-70).
“We’ve really got to clean up some things offensively and figure out who’s going to be able to play for us and who we can count on, because the wheel comes off in the SEC, the league is so good now it makes it tough,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got to be able to get back home, readjust some things, clean up some things so we can give ourselves a chance to beat a good Florida team on Tuesday.”
The Gators (9-4, 1-0) opened SEC play with an 81-74 win over Vanderbilt, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Commodores.
Grad-transfer forward Egor Koulechov scored 22, grabbed eight rebounds and made all 10 of his free throws. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half, as Florida withstood a frantic Vanderbilt rally.
“I thought we played with some really good poise overall in the second half, offensively, while we were trying to fend off their mad run,” Gators coach Mike White said.
The Aggies are shooting 47.5 percent at home this season and are 7-0 on their court. Texas A&M has won 10 of its last 13 home conference openers, but dropped a 73-63 contest to Tennessee inside Reed Arena to begin SEC play a year ago.
Florida’s visit to Reed Arena is the Gators’ first true road game this season and their fourth contest against a ranked opponent. Florida is 2-1 against ranked teams, with wins over Gonzaga and Cincinnati and a loss to Duke.
The two most recent meetings between the Aggies and Gators in College Station have been nail biters as Texas A&M has won both games by a combined four total points. UF leads the all-time series 6-4, with A&M holding a 3-1 edge at Reed Arena.
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