Home Preview: Buzz Williams brings rugged Texas A&M team to JPJ to face Virginia
Basketball, Sports

Preview: Buzz Williams brings rugged Texas A&M team to JPJ to face Virginia

Chris Graham
tony bennett
Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia could be running into a buzzsaw, and, yes, sorry for the awful pun, but it fits, with Texas A&M, led by former Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams, bringing his rugged team to town Wednesday for the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.

Tipoff at John Paul Jones Arena is set for 7:15 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 with Dave Pasch and Cory Alexander on the call.

Williams’ Aggies (6-1 in 2023-2024) are relentless on the offensive glass, leading the nation in offensive rebounding percentage (46.2%), and they’ve played a tough schedule – with wins over Ohio State, SMU, Penn State and Iowa State, the loss coming to Florida Atlantic, last year’s surprise Final Four team, which just waxed Virginia Tech by 34.

A&M could be a good matchup lineup- and rotation-wise for Virginia just in terms of size. Williams goes with four guards around 6’11” center Wildens Leveque in his starting lineup, but Leveque only averages 11.1 minutes per game.

It seems that Williams prefers going small, with 6’8”, 245-pound senior Henry Coleman (14.2 ppg, 8.3 rebounds/g, 72.1% FG), a Richmond native and one-time UVA recruiting target, getting a lot of minutes as a small-ball five.

The backcourt is quick 6-foot junior Wade Taylor (20.0 ppg, 4.4 assists/g, 40.5% FG, 26.7% 3FG), a volume shooter (16.6 shots per game) who can get to the line (5.9 free-throw attempts per game), and another familiar name to UVA fans, 6’3” guard Tyrece Radford (13.0 ppg, 4.8 rebounds/g, 47.0% FG, 31.2% 3FG), who transferred from Virginia Tech to reunite with Williams.

The best perimeter shooter is 6’6” senior Hayden Hefner (8.9 ppg, 47.9% FG, 41.4% 3FG).

Andersson Garcia (3.6 ppg, 7.6 rebounds/g) is a Dennis Rodman-like statistical anomaly – the 6’7” senior averages more offensive rebounds (4.0 per game) that shot attempts (2.7).

Everybody on this A&M team can rebound the ball, and this Aggies group can score – its 1.204 points per possession rank fourth in the nation, according to KenPom.com data.

It doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well from three – 28.8 percent, 310th nationally.

The efficiency on offense for the Aggies seems to flow from the work on the offensive glass, which happens to be a big weakness right now for Virginia (5-1 in 2023-2024), which ranks 329th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage (64.9%), and allowed two of its three Power 5 opponents (Florida, Wisconsin) to grab 50 percent or better of their misses on the offensive end.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].