Texas A&M clamped down on the defensive end and used its size advantage on the interior to hold off No. 10 seed Providence for a 73-69 win on Friday afternoon in the West Region of the NCAA tournament.
The Aggies dominated on the glass (44-26) and had balanced scoring throughout its roster as guard Admon Gilder paced Texas A&M (21-12) with 18 points. Big man Tyler Davis (14 points, 15 rebounds) and forward Robert Williams (13 points, 14 rebounds) both contributed double-doubles while guard T.J. Starks (16 points) also finished in double-figures for the Aggies.
Davis and Williams dominated the glass for Texas A&M as the duo combined for six offensive rebounds. Although Providence had more experience and balance on the perimeter, Davis and Williams made up for that for the Aggies with the way they took care of business inside. Providence had no answer for them on the glass. Williams also punctuated the Texas A&M win with a great windmill to end the game.
Texas A&M put together a string of stops during a five-minute stretch in the second half that saw Providence score only two points as they put together a run for a double-digit lead. The Aggies held on from there as the Friars did everything they could to foul and stay in the game until the end.
Providence (21-14) found itself down 53-52 with 7:11 left as its offense went ice cold over the next several minutes. Forward Rodney Bullock paced the Friars with 22 points. Guard Alpha Diallo (21 points) and point guard Kyron Cartwright (11 points, nine assists) also finished in double-figures for the Friars.
Although Providence had a lot of positive momentum entering the tournament after making the finals in the Big East Tournament, they couldn’t capitalize. The Friars knocked off two tournament teams in Creighton and Xavier to get in but they fell in their opener by shooting only 30 percent (6-for-20) from three-point range.
Texas A&M advances to Sunday’s second round as they will play the winner of No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 15 seed Lipscomb in the West Region. The Aggies are back in the Round of 32 after making the Sweet 16 two years ago with many of the same players.