COLLEGE STATION — Texas A&M was expected to struggle under the first season with Buzz Williams. Here's the thing with expectations — they're meant to overachieve.
And if Williams' first-year shows anything for the future, A&M will be a contender in the coming weeks.
The Associated Press named Williams was named the Southeastern Conference’s Coach of the Year on Tuesday after a stellar 2019-20 season. Other candidates that were expected to be in the running included Kentucky's John Calipari, Auburn's Bruce Pearl, Mississippi State's Ben Howland and Alabama's Nate Oats.
Williams guided the Aggies to a 10-8 SEC record and finished in a tie for sixth in the SEC. A double-digit year in conference play would be the program’s best finish since earning a share of the SEC Championship in 2016. The team was projected to finish 12th in the SEC Preseason Poll.
During conference play, the Aggies sported the SEC’s best scoring defense, limiting opponents to 67.4 points per game. Texas A&M closed out the regular season with five wins in its last seven games, which included a 78-75 road victory over No. 17 Auburn, which ended the Tigers’ 19-game home winning streak.
“I don’t anticipate that I’ll win this year,” Williams said Monday when asked about the award. “I don’t participate in that sort of thing.
“I think everybody has a different lens on who should be coach of the year. Everybody is entitled to that. I haven’t spent any time thinking about that.”
The first-year Aggie helped build the programs of Marquette and Virginia Tech to dominance. With a new athletic director in the building, Ross Bjork knew the only way the Aggies would contend around the rim would be by bringing in a name who had been here before.
And despite all the numbers sitting against them, the overachieving 12th Men would defy the planned programming week by week. Finishing last in the SEC in scoring, assists, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and blocked shots, the Aggies found a way to win.
Right place. Right time. Higher seed. After back to back wins against then-No.17 Auburn and Arkansas, the Aggies would finish as the No.7 seed for the upcoming SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. later this week. The team will hold their series opener Thursday against No.10 Missouri.
Here was the list of the AP's final votes for the 2020 season:
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Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama, 6-3, 165, So., Meridianville, Alabama
u-Mason Jones, Arkansas, 6-5, 200, Jr., DeSoto, Texas
u-Reggie Perry, Mississippi State, 6-10, 250, So., Thomasville, Georgia
Nick Richards, Kentucky, 6-11, 247, Jr., Jamaica
Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky, 6-3, 188, So., Harve de Grace, Maryland
Samir Doughty, Auburn, 6-4, 195, Sr., Philadelphia
Anthony Edwards, Georgia, 6-5, 225, Fr., Atlanta
Keyontae Johnson, Florida, 6-5, 231, So., Norfolk, Virginia
Skylar Mays, LSU, 6-4, 205, Sr., Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Breein Tyree, Mississippi, 6-2, 195, Sr., Somerset, New Jersey
Coach of the year — Buzz Williams, Texas A&M
Player of the year — Mason Jones, Arkansas, and Reggie Perry, Mississippi State
Newcomer of the year — Anthony Edwards, Georgia