COLLEGE STATION — Tears might not be the only thing falling Saturday afternoon when Texas A&M takes the court. As the Aggies say goodbye to three seniors, the team could also end Arkansas' chances at a postseason appearance with a victory.
But for Mark French, Wendell Mitchell and Josh Nebo, the trio will look for a win, but look back on the moments that shaped their lives at College Station.
"It's been a great four years," French said to media Friday. "It's been more than I could have ever imagined, so it's just thankfulness.
"I'm just thankful for how I got to come through it all and the people I got to meet."
The Aggies (15-14, 9-8 SEC) will similarly close their SEC season on how it started. A weekend away in Fayetteville sent the Aggies packing to the tune of a Razorbacks (19-11, 7-10) 69-59 victory.
It's come full circle as the first season of the Buzz Williams' era comes to a close. Now, A&M will gladly take the opportunity to return the favor to the red-hot Razorbacks.
"That seems like an eternity ago," Williams said of the first go-around. "What was it? The first Saturday in January?
“This will be the first Saturday in March. That’s a long time relative to the journey we’ve been on. But if I could only say one thing. I think we try a lot harder than we did then.”
A&M will look to build off their highlight 78-75 victory at No. 17 Auburn on Wednesday. It would become the first road victory over a ranked opponent since 2018. Nebo scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half while Mitchell, Savion Flagg and Jay Jay Chandler all scored 14 points each.
Williams highlighted that at first, Nebo was not expected to be a part of his starting plan when arriving on campus. He's sure happy to be wrong about that thought.
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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.
“We had 14 kids at that time in September,” Williams said of Nebo's rise. “He rarely made it through a workout in September. He would have been 12th or 13th if you had to rank them.”
The driving force of A&M's offense, Nebo currently leads the team with 12.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game. Mitchell and Flagg average 11.4 and 10.7, respectively. Freshman Emanuel Miller leads the team in rebounds at 6.4, which ranks second among SEC newcomers this season.
“It’s definitely cool,” Nebo said. “It’s definitely a fun experience to help the team in any way with scoring and rebounding. It’s been a cool experience, especially in my last year, in playing this way.”
The Razorbacks will be playing for better seeding in next week's SEC Tournament in Nashville. The team will come in fresh off a 99-90 win over LSU on Wednesday night. Mason Jones paced the Arkansas offense with 36 points. Jimmy Whitt added a double-double against the Tigers with 26 points and 15 rebounds.
Jones might be making a push for SEC Player of the Year. The sophomore has been on a tear, averaging 33 points over the past three games. For the season, Jones has averaged an SEC-high 21.8 points.
“How good is he?” Williams said. “I’m not sure who’ll guard him. I’m not sure who in our league has done a very good job guarding him. He’s just been phenomenal. And now that (Isaiah Joe) is back, it makes them even more potent.”
Tournament implications will be on the line for both schools. An Aggie victory better suits them for the National Invitation Tournament while a loss for Arkansas could see both SEC schools heading in that direction. All will be decided on the future when tip-off commences at 2:30 p.m. at Reed Arena.
"I want to play as many games as I can. I don’t want the season to end," Nebo said. "What am I going to do when the season is over?
“So, I just want to keep playing whether that’s the NCAA Tournament or whatever tournament we get picked into.”