Texas A&M beats Vanderbilt, clinches No. 1 seed in SEC

Saturday March 5th, 2016

In its fourth season as a member of the SEC, Texas A&M hasn’t just made itself at home—the Aggies are sitting at the head of the table. With a 76–67 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday, No. 20 Texas A&M clinched the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament and a share of the regular season title, along with Kentucky. The Aggies are the first team other than Kentucky or Florida to clinch the No. 1 seed in the SEC since the conference’s realignment.

Texas A&M owns the head-to-head advantage over Kentucky after a 79–77 overtime win over the Wildcats on Feb. 20.

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It was fitting that the Aggies were able to win their first conference title since 1986 on their home floor on Senior Day. Four seniors—Jalen Jones, Anthony Collins, Danuel House and Alex Caruso—are in Texas A&M's starting lineup and two others are reserves.

In Texas A&M’s first season in the SEC, the Aggies finished 11th with a 7–11 conference record. They were ninth (8–10) in 2013–14 and tied for third last season with an 11–7 record. This season, they finally broke through.

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After taking over as head coach of the program in May 2011, Billy Kennedy has rebuilt Texas A&M with in-state prospects and transfers. Eleven of the 15 players on the Aggies’ roster are from Texas, while Jones, Collins and House transferred to Texas A&M and end their college careers as SEC champions. Kennedy signed a top-10 recruiting class in 2015, so Texas A&M has young talent in place to take the reigns from the team’s graduating seniors.

But the Aggies’ senior class isn’t ready to hang up their jerseys just yet. They’ll be the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament and potentially a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament.

Despite losing five straight conference games, the Aggies kept their season afloat by winning their final six games of the regular season. Entering tournament play, Texas A&M has a 13–5 mark in the SEC and 24–7 overall record, including wins over Texas, Gonzaga, Baylor, Iowa State and Kentucky. Texas A&M’s rebuild has included a new head coach and a new conference affiliation, but the Aggies have established College Station as the home to one of the country’s rising college basketball programs.

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