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Meet Texas A&M, the Providence Friars’ Round of 64 opponent

The Aggies will be facing the Friars on Friday. So, here’s the 411.

Valley Of The Sun Shootout:  Texas A&M v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Providence Friars will start the day off on Friday, the second day of the NCAA Tournament. Like the Butler Bulldogs, Providence’s opponent resides in the Southeastern Conference. And much like the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Friars’ dance partner in the Round of 64 is a 7 seed.

That would be the Texas A&M Aggies. Let’s learn a little bit more about the Aggies and what they bring to the table.

Records 20-12 (9-9 SEC; Finished 8th); Lost in SEC Tournament Second Round
Rankings 29th KenPom
Leading Scorers Tyler Davis (14.5 PPG); Admon Gilder (12.2 PPG); D.J. Hogg (11.3 PPG); Robert Williams (10.3 PPG)
Leading Assist Man D.J. Hogg/Admon Gilder (2.6 APG)
Leading Rebounder Robert Williams (9.0 RPG)
Adj. Efficiencies 111.2 (Off.) | 94.2 (Def.)
Team eFG% 51.1% (Off.) | 46.4% (Def.)
Team 2PT% 52.1% (Off.) | 45.0% (Def.)
Team 3PT% 32.8% (Off.) | 32.4% (Def.)

Under the guidance of Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M went 20-12 this season. They were knocked out of the SEC Tournament by the Alabama Crimson Tide in dramatic fashion, thanks to a Collin Sexton buzzer-beater. The Aggies had rather lofty expectations this season, much of them to do with star sophomore Robert Williams. They were 11-1 at one point, with the lone loss being against Deandre Ayton and the Arizona Wildcats.

Then, league play hit, and a rash of injuries and suspensions led to a bit of a tailspin. They started 0-5 in SEC play and were 2-6 in league play after January 23. They rallied back, however, to finish .500 in conference with a 9-9 record. They racked up wins against Alabama, the Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, and Arkansas on this run, all of whom are Tournament teams.

When you consider that A&M had four players who averaged double figures, it’s kind of mind-bending that this team only has 20 wins. Nevertheless, that’s where we’re at. The lead scorer for the Aggies this year was Tyler Davis. Davis, a 6-foot-10 junior, was efficient while he averaged 14.5 points per game this year. He was also a great rebounder and shot-blocker, proving to be vital in the paint. Elsewhere down low, D.J. Hogg and Robert Williams were each successful this year. Hogg averaged 11.3 points and Williams averaged 10.3 points per game.

Admon Gilder was the only guard to average over 10 points per game this year. Gilder, a 6-foot-4 junior, put up 12.2 points per game this season. He did so while putting up mildly efficient numbers, and was also the team’s best 3-point shooter. Gilder averaged 40 percent from long range, just ahead of Hogg’s mark of 38.5 percent.

Not to be outdone, however, freshman T.J. Starks had a very solid season. Starks, a freshman, averaged 9.6 points on a mark of 39.1 percent from the field. Starks saw his

However, 3-point offense wasn’t exactly the Aggies’ strength. Providence probably won’t have to worry too much, as the Ags averaged 32.8 percent from beyond the arc. That’s nearly three full percentage points lower than the D1 average, and ranked 284th in the country.

Additionally, only 26.4 percent of their points this season have come from the 3-point shot. They can pretty much sag off and let them pull up from deep if they want. Because apart from Gilder and Hogg, they don’t have anybody that’s going to scare them around the perimeter.

Inside, they will certainly present some issues. The fact that the Friars are allowing 51.3 percent of 2-point tries to be converted should probably inflict some fear. Especially since the Aggies are averaging 52.1 percent inside this year. Nate Watson is 6-foot-10 and Kalif Young is 6-foot-9, but against the big bodies of Hogg, Williams and Davis, they may find themselves in some trouble if they really get going. Put simply, Providence is going have to limit attempts to get down low because they could be in for a long night otherwise.

The Ags have a pretty strong profile defensively. They rank in the Top 20 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, eFG% allowed, 2-point and 3-point FG% allowed. Teams are averaging 23.4 3-point attempts per game against them, so it’s not as if they aren’t letting them fly. That they have one of the best 3-point defenses in the nation is certainly worth noting. They’re also swatting away shot attempts at a rate of 15.3 percent, which ranks 11th in the nation. Providence has faced some stingy defenses in the Big East, so they’ll be prepared for what comes on Friday. But the Aggies are arguably the best defense they’ve faced this year.

Texas A&M averages just a shade over what Providence does on the season in points per game. Their 75 points bests Providence’s 73.7, but not by a whole lot. This could prove to be a rock fight in Charlotte, and will be an intriguing test for the Friars right out of the gate.