Alabama Basketball set to host tough Texas A&M squad

Alabama v Auburn
Alabama v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Alabama Basketball looks to maintain its spot atop the SEC standings, but will have to conquer a gritty Texas A&M team on Saturday morning to do so. 

A&M was the SEC’s runner-up in 2022-23, and returned several key pieces from that squad. While the Aggies have underachieved relative to expectation this season, they have plenty of talent and always play hard under Buzz Williams.

Texas A&M has amassed a 15-9 record, and falls in the middle of the SEC with a 6-5 league record. The Aggies were riding a three-game win streak, which included a lopsided win over Tennessee, before falling on the road to Vanderbilt on Tuesday night. This stretch was just a microcosm of A&M’s season, as it has notched several impressive wins that it then nullified with baffling losses.

Texas A&M is led by its dynamic veteran backcourt of Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford, though it has struggled to get consistent production outside of this duo. 

Taylor IV has cemented his reputation as one of the SEC’s best, averaging 19.8 points and 3.7 assists per game. His ability to get hot is on par with anybody in the country, and he has hit four or more three-pointers in nine games this season.

Some of his best performances this season include a 35-point outing against Florida Atlantic, 34 against Houston, 31 against Kentucky and 41 against Arkansas in back-to-back games, and 30 in a late-January loss to Ole Miss. Taylor IV has always been a primetime performer who has stepped up on big stages against the best opponents, and went for 28 in the regular season finale against the Crimson Tide last March. While Taylor IV has been special, A&M is only 1-4 this year in games that have seen him eclipse the 30-point mark.

His backcourt running mate Tyrece Radford is one of the most experienced players in college basketball, having started 140 games during his time at A&M and Virginia Tech. Radford is a high-energy guard that is averaging a career-best 15.1 points per game this season. 

Senior forwards Henry Coleman (10 PPG, 6.7 RPG) and Andersson Garcia (6.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG) make up an undersized but extremely tough Aggie frontcourt. Garcia is currently leading the SEC in rebounding at just 6’7”, and Coleman is one of the grittiest players in the conference on both ends of the floor at the same height. 6’11” senior Wildens Leveque gives the Aggies some much needed length, but plays limited minutes. 

In theory, Jace Carter and Hayden Hefner are floor-stretching wings that should boost A&M’s offensive ceiling and give Taylor IV and Radford more room to operate. In practice, however, both have struggled with their shots, which is part of the reason why the A&M offense has stagnated at times. 

Alabama Basketball will have a talent advantage and a significant depth advantage in this game. Texas A&M will play the Tide tough, but will not be able to score enough to keep pace with the nation’s most efficient offense in the familiar confines of Coleman Coliseum.

One of the most fascinating storylines to watch will be the battle between Mark Sears and Wade Taylor IV, two of the top-three leading scorers in the SEC. Sears and Taylor IV are among the best scoring guards in college basketball, and will both be in contention for SEC Player of the Year honors. 

Look for Coach Nate Oats and the Tide, winners of seven straight at home, to keep it rolling in Coleman this weekend.