LAS VEGAS — The Texas A&M men’s basketball team was feeling a Las Vegas hot streak to begin its stay at the Maui Invitational while jumping out to a 16-point lead over Wisconsin midway through the first quarter.
However, as the Aggies learned quickly, luck can turn in the blink of an eye in Sin City.
A&M dropped its opening game of the early-season tournament to the Badgers 69-58 inside the Mandalay Bay resort on Monday. Wisconsin (3-1) bridged the early gap thanks to an individual tear by senior guard Brad Davidson, who finished the game with 19 points.
He trailed only sophomore guard Johnny Davis, who posted a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds. A&M senior guard Quenton Jackson paced the Aggies with 15 points and five rebounds.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” head coach Buzz Williams said. “We just didn’t do them for long enough.”
“The thing we struggled with is we needed all five to play with great discipline and great execution for a longer stretch, whoever those five are.”
Six early 3-pointers from the Aggies (4-1) helped build their 16-point lead, including two from guard Andre Gordon.
“I think we were just locked in,” Gordon said. “We prepared well for the game. We prepared to start the game well for this game because in previous games, we didn’t start well.”
However, 12 points – including two three pointers – from Davidson closed the gap and gave the Badgers a one-point lead 35-34 at the break. Tighter defense from the Badgers gave the Aggies less uncontested shots through the remainder of the game, Gordon said.
Wisconsin opened the second half on a 26-11 run to hit its largest lead of the game at 61-45. A&M closed the game on a 13-8 run, including six points from forward Henry Coleman III, who finished the game with eight points and four rebounds.
Twenty-six of Wisconsin’s points came in the paint, compared to A&M’s 16. The Badgers also led the rebounding margin 36-29, including 11 offensive rebounds. Fifteen of their points came off second-chance attempts.
“When you play Wisconsin, there’s not going to be a home-run hit,” Williams said. “There’s not going to be a knock out punch. It’s throw good punches, throw good punches, throw good punches and then body blow, body blow, body blow. I thought we started out great and then we did not close out the half the right way.”
A&M moves into the consolation bracket and will take on Butler (3-2) at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Butler lost to No. 12 Houston 70-52 on Monday.
“It’s kind of like AAU ball,” Gordon said. “We’ve’ been doing this since we were young. We just got to turn around and forget what happened, erase the board and just keep going, just play basketball. We do it every day.”