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Defensive rebounding leads Texas A&M men's basketball team to 57-50 win over Butler
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Defensive rebounding leads Texas A&M men's basketball team to 57-50 win over Butler

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Texas A M Wisconsin Basketball

Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams during an NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin at the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Texas A&M’s second try at the Maui Invitational — played this year in Las Vegas — resembled so many aspects of its first. The time, the Aggie men’s basketball team closed out down the stretch.

A&M made 5 of 8 free throws and used solid defensive rebounding during the final three minutes of the second half to put away Butler 57-50 in consolation bracket play Tuesday at the Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay.

A&M couldn’t finish off Wisconsin on Monday to open tournament play, falling 69-58. Against Butler, however, the Aggies (5-1) pulled down six defensive rebounds in the final three minutes that helped hold off the Bulldogs. During that stretch, A&M forward Henry Coleman III had four of the six boards.

A&M guard Quenton Jackson said rebounding was the key difference between the Aggies’ two Maui Invitational games.

“We did a terrible job rebounding in the first game, so that was a big emphasis coming into this next game,” Jackson said.

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The super senior guard led all scorers with 15 points, hitting 3 of 3 shots from 3-point range. Jackson’s buzzer-beating trey gave the Aggies a 33-21 halftime lead.

The Aggies also forced 19 turnovers and turned them into 21 points — mostly in the first half. By comparison, the Bulldogs scored just seven points on 12 Aggie turnovers.

But much like in Monday’s tournament opener against Wisconsin, A&M had to fight back an opponent trying to creep back into the game in the second half. Butler (3-3) used an 11-3 run to get within three as the game wound to a close. Chuck Harris finished the run with a layup to cut A&M’s lead to 53-50 with 27 seconds left.

A&M’s Marcus Williams hit two free throws with 24 seconds left to push A&M’s lead back to five points, and Jackson later hit 2 of 2 free throws with three seconds left to close out the scoring.

“I thought today there were a lot of the same tests that we had to learn from yesterday,” A&M head coach Buzz Williams said. “I thought we were distinctly better in some of those lessons that we learned. Much better job on the glass. That gave us a chance.”

Coleman had eight points to go with his game-high 10 rebounds. Williams and Tyrece Radford also scored eight points each for the Aggies. Guard Jair Bolden paced the Bulldogs with 10 points.

A&M advances in the consolation bracket to play the winner of Notre Dame (2-1) and Chaminade (2-1) at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. The game will be televised by ESPN2 (Suddenlink Ch. 36).

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