Texas A&M will have a fresh look at the start of the 2019-20 season with Buzz Williams manning the sideline. The new head coach made an impact before the opening tip, scheduling some serious competition in his first non-conference slate in Aggieland.
The first game you have to circle is the date with Texas on Dec. 8. The two schools have a rich history of hating one another that bleeds deeper than on the football field, the most publicized battleground for the sides. The Longhorns are the most common opponent for the Aggies, though the teams haven’t played much since Texas A&M bolted from the Big 12 for the SEC earlier in the decade.
The last time they played was in 2015, an 84-73 victory for the Aggies, which was the first meeting since the conference change three years prior. Four years ago, the matchup happened in the Bahamas as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis. This time, fans of the schools will have an easier time seeing it live as the teams are set to meet at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, for the showdown.
“I’ve seen the Texas A&M-Texas rivalry first-hand, so I know how important this game is to our players, coaches and fans,” Williams was quoted in a Texas press release. “We’re also excited about getting the opportunity to play in front of our Metroplex alumni in the new Dickes Arena. This is one of those games that generates passion from both sides and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
While the Texas game might have the most sentimental value, Gonzaga will present an even greater challenge when it comes to College Station on Nov. 15. The Bulldogs have positioned themselves as one of the premier programs in all of college basketball, and although they don’t technically count as a power-conference opponent, they will be one of the most talented and difficult teams Texas A&M plays all year. The juxtaposition of this marquee game with a football weekend has Aggies fans that much more excited for it. A victory would be a very big early statement for Texas A&M.
As part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, Texas A&M will face Oklahoma State, another program the Aggies have history with, at Reed Arena on Jan. 25. The teams have met 49 times, with the Cowboys holding a 31-18 lead, but the Aggies won the most recent game in 2017 at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, New York, 72-55. Both of these programs are coming off of below-.500 campaigns but have some buzz flying around their campuses for the upcoming season. Oklahoma State has higher expectations entering the year, but the Aggies could surprise and leverage themselves into position for a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. If that’s a possibility come late January, the magnitude of this one will skyrocket.
Texas A&M will also participate in the Orlando Invitational at the HP Field House. Its first of three guaranteed games will be against Harvard on Nov. 28, with its second opponent being either Maryland or Temple the following day depending upon game results. The team’s third matchup will be Dec. 1 versus Marquette, Davidson, USC or Fairfield, the rest of the tournament’s field.
The Aggies have chosen to challenge themselves outside of SEC play, and that’s something you have to respect, especially considering the outlook for the program in Williams’s inaugural season after coming over from Virginia Tech. This schedule also provides fans in College Station with a monster lineup coming to town and gives the team a chance to get its legs under itself at home before the gauntlet of the conference schedule. With no true road games and only four neutral site showdowns, the Aggies should be very comfortable at Reed Arena come 2020.