The Texas A&M men’s basketball team will have to match its season win total away from Reed Arena on if it is to extend its season.
The Aggies travel to Illinois State (Normal, Ill.) for a quarterfinal College Basketball Invitational game on Monday.
A&M is a two-point underdog and it could be because the Aggies are 1-8 in road games and 0-4 at neutral sites. A&M is 18-15 overall after winning its first CBI game 59-43 over Wyoming. The Aggies, who are 17-3 at home, jumped to a 21-4 lead at Reed Arena on Wednesday and were never pressed against the Cowboys, who were without leading scorer Larry Nance Jr.
Illinois State also won on its home court, defeating Morehead State 77-67.
The Aggies will be the first Southeastern Conference team to play at Redbird Arena. Illinois State coach Dan Muller is very familiar with the SEC though, having coached as an assistant for 12 years at Vanderbilt. This is his second season at ISU.
The Redbirds are also somewhat familiar with basketball in Texas with three players having transferred from Texas junior colleges, including starting guard and leading scorer (13.2) Daishon Knight (Odessa College) and one of their top players off the bench, Zach Lofton from San Jacinto. Knight was honorable mention all-Missouri Valley, while freshman Reggie Lynch was on the Missouri Valley newcomer team.
The only meeting between the teams was in 1984, when the Redbirds defeated a Shelby Metcalf-led team 74-66 in overtime at the Pacific Classic in Stockton, Calif.
A&M’s only road win was its first in SEC play, a 57-56 victory over Tennessee, which is in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Antwan Space hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer for the victory. On Wednesday against Wyoming, the 6-8 sophomore had his first double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The three other quarterfinal games are Penn State at Siena, Radford at Old Dominion and Princeton at Fresno State. The winner of the ISU-A&M game will advance to the semifinals. The bracket will be reshuffled and the winners will play on Wednesday.