Road Test at Alabama Awaits Aggies in SEC Opener

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Aggie Basketball Game #13:
#5 Texas A&M (11-1; 0-0 SEC) at Alabama (8-4; 0-0 SEC)
Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 · 5 p.m. (CT)
Coleman Coliseum (15,383) · Tuscaloosa, Ala.

TELEVISION: ESPN2 (For more info – 12thMan.com/TV)
Richard Cross, Play-by-Play
Jimmy Dykes, Commentary

RADIO: WTAW 1620 AM (Bryan-College Station)
Colin Killian, Play-by-Play
Al Pulliam, Commentary

SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius Ch. 119 / XM Ch. 190
LIVE AUDIO/STATS: 12thman.com/live
LIVE MOBILE LIVE STATS: tamustats.com

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After posting an 11-1 record and rising to No. 5 in the national rankings, Texas A&M leaves non-conference play behind and begins its quest for an SEC title as the Aggies travel to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama inside Coleman Coliseum on Saturday at 5 p.m.

The Aggies made final preparations for league competition last week with a pair of home victories during which a trio of Aggies, led by junior Tyler Davis stepped to the forefront. Davis enters SEC competition riding the momentum of three consecutive double-doubles, meanwhile, graduate transfer Duane Wilson is averaging 19.5 points and 7.0 assists in his last two games and freshman Savion Flagg is contribution 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds during the same period.

Flagg became the latest Aggie to make headlines as the Alvin, Texas, native was honored as SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday, giving A&M its second individual accolade from the league office this season. Junior Admon Gilder was named SEC Player of the Week on Nov. 13.

The showdown between the Aggies and Crimson Tide will be televised on ESPN2 with Richard Cross calling the play-by-play action and Jimmy Dykes providing color commentary. Additionally, radio coverage will be available on the Aggie Sports Network, which can be heard locally in the Bryan/College Station area on WTAW (1620 AM).

Alabama (8-4) enters the conference race expecting to take another step forward as a program following an appearance in the 2017 NIT during head coach Avery Johnson’s second season in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide were pegged fourth by the media who cover the league in the SEC’s Preseason Poll, just one spot back of the third-place Aggies.

Freshman guard Collin Sexton, a preseason Second Team All-SEC selection, highlights a talented Alabama roster as the rookie averaged 20.5 points per contest to lead all SEC players in scoring.

Texas A&M will be in search of its first win at Coleman Coliseum since joining the SEC prior to the 2012-13 campaign (0-3).

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SETTING THE SCENE / NOTABLES
• Texas A&M is 8-4 in its last 12 conference-opening contests, including three of five SEC-opening affairs since joining the league prior to the 2011-12 campaign.
• Texas A&M matched its highest-ever ranking the Associated Press Top 25 this week when the Aggies were slotted at No. 5 ... the 2015-16 Aggies also reached No. 5 in the AP poll.
• The Aggies rank No. 8 in the NCAA's daily RPI report (through Dec. 25 games) ... Alabama checks in a No. 28.
• Junior DJ Hogg will miss the Alabama game while he serves the second game of a three-game suspension for a violation of Texas A&M policy ... Hogg is averaging 14.6 points per game while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range this season.

SERIES HISTORY VS. ALABAMA (ALABAMA LEADS 10-5)
• Saturday's contest will be the 16th meeting between the Aggies and the Crimson Tide on the hardwood and the seventh between the schools as SEC competitors.
• Alabama won the first six games in the series, before the Aggies went on a three-game winning streak against the Crimson Tide.
• A&M head coach Billy Kennedy is 2-6 against Alabama.
• The two schools first met on December 19, 1958, when the Bob Rodgers-led Aggies fell to Alabama 66-62 in the Birmingham Classic ... The Aggies had to wait 40 years for their first win against the Tide when they won 65-58 in College Station on Dec. 1, 1998.
• Saturday’s contest will be the sixth time the Aggies and Tide have met in Tuscaloosa, with Bama leading the series 5-1 on its home court.

TEXAS A&M-ALABAMA CONNECTIONS
• A&M's Darby Rich- Texas A&M's strength & conditioning coach played for the Crimson Tide from 1990-92, earning a spot on the All-SEC Academic Honor Roll three times while helping Alabama reach the three NCAA Tournaments, including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances.
• Alabama's Avery Johnson, Jr. - The Alabama junior guard, played in 13 games for the Aggies during the 2014-15 campaign before transferring to Tuscaloosa to play for his father.

A&M RISES IN THE NATIONAL POLLS; MATCHES HIGHEST AP RANKING
The latest batch of national polls were released Monday (Dec. 25) and slot the Aggies at No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 6 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll. Texas A&M began the season at No. 25 in the AP Top 25 and unranked in the USA Today/Coaches before moving into the Top 10 (#9 AP / #10 USAT/Coaches) on Nov. 27.

A&M's most recent appearance in the Top 10 came during the 2015-16 campaign when the Aggies reached as high as No. 5 on Jan. 25. The No. 5 ranking stands out as the highest in program history.

FLAGG HONORED AS SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK (DEC. 26)
After making an impression during a pair of Aggie victories, Texas A&M's Savion Flagg was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Dec. 26.

The rookie from Alvin, Texas, averaged 16.5 points and nine rebounds while shooting 62.5 percent from the field and leading the Aggies to wins over Northern Kentucky and Buffalo. With the Aggies short-handed due to injury and suspension, Flagg stepped up to produce his first career double-double with a 12-point, 10-rebound outing against Northern Kentucky before registering a personal-best 21 points two days later vs. Buffalo.

A&M ELITE ON THE DEFENSIVE END
Through games played on Dec. 25, Texas A&M stands out as one of the country's toughest defensive squads, checking in at fourth nationally in both field goal percentage defense (36.1 percent) and 3-point field goal defense (26.8 percent). Additionally, A&M is fifth in blocked shots per game (6.7).

Kenpom.com ranks the Aggies at No. 3 nationally in its adjusted defensive efficiency (87.7).

AGGIES RANK AMONG NATION'S BEST REBOUNDING TEAMS
Texas A&M enters the Alabama game leading the nation in defensive rebounds per game (32.5) while ranking second nationally in total rebounds per game (45.08) and eighth in rebound margin (+10.2).

DAVIS JOINS 1,000-POINT & 500-REBOUND CLUBS; CLIMBING ALL-TIME REBOUNDING LIST
From the first day he hit the court as a rookie wearing the Maroon & White, Tyler Davis has always prided himself on hitting the boards hard. That dedication garnered Davis spot in Texas A&M's exclusive 500-rebound Club as he hit the milestone against Prairie View A&M on Dec. 9 to become just the 26th Aggie to reach 500.

He currently ranks 21st in school history with 541 career boards.

Davis hit another milestone during the win over Buffalo on Dec. 21 as he became the 36th member of A&M's 1,000 Point Club

UP NEXT AFTER THE ALABAMA GAME
The Aggies host their first SEC contest of the season on Tuesday (Jan. 2) when they welcome Florida to at Reed Arena ... the game is slated for a 8 p.m. (CT) tip off and will be televised on EPSN.

#DOMORE
It started as the theme of a motivational talk by strength & condition coach Darby Rich during summer workouts but "Do More" has become the de facto motto for the Aggie basketball team this season.

Coming off a 16-15 campaign last season that fell short of repeating the success of an SEC Championship and a Sweet 16 showing the year prior, Texas A&M coaches & players have bought into the idea that all of them need to "Do More" this season. It's all encompassing philosophy that includes work in the weight room, practice habits, mental preparation, scouting and vocal leadership as the Aggies put in extra work & focus to achieve their lofty expectations this season.