COLLEGE STATION — The roller coaster is going into night mode; care to take a ride?
Roller coasters are much like sports, and the night rides where it's hard to see a clear picture could describe the NCAA. Anything can happen, with twists and turns coming out of nowhere, leading to the final drop.
Texas A&M's season has been a roller coaster at times. All of those practices rides will be a test to show if the team is ready for extra play when they arrive in Nashville, Tenn. for the SEC tournament.
The seventh-seed Aggies will take on No.10 Missouri for a showdown Thursday at 6:00 p.m. The winner will play less than 24 hours later against No.2 Auburn, leading to a change of events of short spurts of rest before a champion is crowned.
Despite a veteran roster and coach, Buzz Williams is new to the tournament life in College Station. The team's turnaround time was put to the test at the Orlando Invitational last November. That round ended on a sour note.
“We’ve only had one rep of trying that. Obviously, in Orlando, and I don’t think we were playing hard then,” Williams said. “We had no success with it.
“This is only the second tournament we’ve played in. As a staff, we’ve tried to figure out what is the best way to handle the preparation leading up to the game.”
A&M would go 0-3 down in the Sunshine State, ultimately playing a factor in the team's postseason plans. A 65-42 loss to Temple was followed up a 62-51 loss to Harvard. And their closet game? A 67-62 defeat by Fairfield, ranked in the 250th range of the recent NET rankings.
Over the past month, the Aggies might be the hottest team in the conference. Going 5-2 to close out the year, the team posted their first double-digit victory season in conference play since 2016 when Billy Kennedy and Alex Caruso led the team to a close loss against Michigan in the Sweet-Sixteen.
This time around, A&M will need to go deep in the tournament to make March's big dance's guest list, The problem will lie on how soon the team's energy can be at full-tempo.
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The week 3 matchup at Kyle Field is the third non-conference game and might be the easiest on the schedule.
“Our bodies have adapted to that," A&M forward Quenton Jackson said on the fast turnaround. "The recovery time is not really needed. We just know what we need to do and what’s expected of us.”
Most teams in the conference will receive three days' rest before suiting up for round two. When the Aggies are given the trifecta of rest, they sit at 7-2 on the year.
But things are playing in favor of the Ags heading into a date with the Music City. Back-to-back quality wins now has Williams' squad thinking of extending their season. The question will be where they will play at the end of the month — if anywhere at all?
"We're never satisfied," Freshman forward Emanuel Miller said. "I think collectively as a group, we have individual goals and collective team goals that we have to accomplish and I think together we can get it done."
Even with a strong showing to close out the SEC, A&M is far from guaranteed anything. A win likely puts them in the conversation of the National Invitational Tournament but only in talks. Each win after gives them better hopes of playing that "last" game on the year.
Anything is possible for A&M now after breaking through barriers. The Aggies were an afterthought for most of the season, expected to finish 12th in conference play during the preseason.
One thing about Williams though; he's always broken expectations in favor of his future.
"It's just the opportunity to be around those guys," Williams said "Another practice or a game. The camaraderie and the chemistry and the symmetry of what's going on is really special.
"Selfishly, I kind of hope it can last a little longer just so we can be around together."