No. 15 Texas A&M played one game before heading to Columbus to play Ohio State on Friday.
However, after defeating visiting Texas A&M-Commerce 78-46 on Monday, Aggies (1-0) coach Buzz Williams said what happened before the opener will help them in an early test against the Buckeyes (1-0).
“I think we learned a lot in our two scrimmages and exhibitions (vs. Baylor and Texas Tech),” Williams said. “Our staff identified what we need to work on. Our players were very receptive to those lessons. … I thought it was the right and first best step. I think a lot of it comes from what we learned the last two weeks.”
Both the Aggies and Buckeyes got off to slow starts before pulling away for victories. Commerce trailed only 21-20 before Texas A&M went on a 21-7 run to lead 42-27 at the half.
Ohio State was down 35-34 at the half to Oakland on Monday but used 17 points each from Roddy Gayle Jr., Zed Key and Bruce Thornton for a 79-73 victory. Of the trio’s 51 points, 36 came in the second half. The Buckeyes also got 13 points and eight rebounds from freshman Scotty Middleton.
“I give our guys a ton of credit,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “They found a way to get some stops and make some necessary plays down the stretch in a game that could’ve gone either way.”
Key said the Buckeyes did not overlook Oakland.
“They’re a really good team,” Key said of A&M. “We have not talked any about Texas A&M. We didn’t look ahead to that game when we had Oakland. I know the coaching staff will put together a game plan for us with what we need to do. We’re going to follow it and we should be good Friday night. I know we are all looking forward to playing such a big game this early in the season. Be there on Friday.”
The Buckeyes are trying to return to the national rankings after a 1-14 stretch doomed them to a 16-19 record last season.
“You look for those big games,” Thornton said. “That’s one of the reasons we came to Ohio State, to play a top-15 team in the country (at home). I’m ready for Friday.”
The Aggies got a career-high 19 points from Hayden Hefner off his 7-of-10 shooting from the floor, including three 3-pointers as Texas A&M hit 11 of 28 from beyond the arc.
For Hefner, all his hard work in the offseason paid off.
“I play against some pretty good defenders every day, and I have so since about May,” Hefner said. “They’re giving us looks that I see almost every week. It’s just being aggressive and know I can make those plays.”
But it was the Aggies’ play at the other end of the court that impressed Commerce coach Jaret von Rosenberg said.
“They’re good,” he said. “They’re really good defensively. They didn’t allow us one time to come down and get into our stuff.”
–Field Level Media