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Snap Judgments: 2017 Progressive Legends Classic Consolation & Championship Games

Robert Cole/ALOST

 

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

NEW YORK — You would have very few arguments right now if one said that the most impressive team over the course of the first week and change of the season has been the No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies, and they put an exclamation point on what has been a wonderful start to the season with an emphatic in-season tournament win in the Big Apple.

Forward Robert Williams played big in the bright spotlight of New York, scoring 21 points and hauling in 10 rebounds as the Aggies defeated Penn State 98-87 to claim the championship of the Progressive Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Williams, who had double-doubles in both games of the tournament, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Along with Williams, four other Aggies scored in double figures, led by the 22 points of Marquette graduate transfer Duane Wilson, who also added six assists. Tyler Davis, who combines with Williams, DJ Hogg and Tony Trocha-Morelos to form one of the most intimidating front lines in the country, added 15 points and six rebounds.

But it was Williams, last season’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year, who stole the show in Brooklyn and put everyone on notice in how dominant he can be on the floor. Most of his field goals came on highlight reel dunks, some of the alley-oop variety. Williams hit 10 of his 12 shots on Tuesday as the Aggies followed up shooting 56 percent in the first half (15-of-27) by hitting 67 percent of their shots (18-for-27) in the second half against the Nittany Lions. Texas A&M hit six of its 12 threes and also went 26-of-29 from the charity stripe.

The Aggies started the season with an impressive win across the Atlantic, defeating then No. 11 West Virginia 88-65 in the State Farm Armed Forces Classic at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and wins against two quality opponents – Oklahoma State and Penn State – on a neutral site in New York City already have the Aggies thinking about the potential of this team, possibly winning a conference championship and making a deep run in March.

Penn State’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 now look even more promising after this tournament, even though it did not come away with the trophy. Guard Tony Carr showed why he may be on the short list of the best guards in the Big Ten, scoring 31 points (21 in the first half) tonight against the Aggies. This followed the win against Pittsburgh on Monday when he hit all four of his three-point attempts in a 16-point effort in a 31-point pasting of the Panthers. Against a Final Four-caliber opponent in the Aggies, the Nittany Lions equipped themselves well in a neutral environment, an experience that could go a long way in establishing a winning culture that could lead to their names being called on Selection Sunday.

In the consolation game, it was Oklahoma State defeating Pittsburgh 73-67 behind the 29 points of guard Jeffrey Carroll. After only making two of his 12 shots and missing all five of his three-point attempts last night against Texas A&M, Carroll snapped out of his shooting funk by connecting on 10-of-17 from the field, including hitting a couple of three-pointers. Four players scored in double figures for the Panthers, led by Shamiel Stevenson, who scored 16 points off the bench while making eight of his nine shot attempts from the field.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline and story is the photo gallery from Tuesday night’s games, with all photos taken by our senior photographer, Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 43 pictures in total.

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