Texas A M Vanderbilt Basketball

Texas A&M guard Andre Gordon (20) and Mark French (12) celebrate as they leave the court after an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Texas A&M won 69-50. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

As Texas A&M entered the first media timeout in its Southeastern Conference men’s basketball matchup with Vanderbilt on Saturday, the Aggies found themselves in new territory. They were leading early on the road.

Williams said he used the timeout as an opportunity to recognize the improvement his team had made through the first three games of SEC play.

“It’s another rep for them to have a comprehension level of the storyline of the game,” he said Monday on his weekly radio show. “Now, can we take the next step, relative to the opportunity, of how we handle that.”

When A&M welcomes LSU (11-4, 3-0) to Reed Arena on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. tip, the Aggies (8-6, 2-1) have a chance to continue on a recent trend of successful starts.

Through A&Ms’ 14 games this season, they’ve only held a lead heading into halftime four times, including Saturday. A 29-25 lead over Fairfield in the Orlando Invitational was the only other first-half lead away from Reed Arena. The Aggies would go on to lose that game 67-62.

“We’re better in the second half because we’re embarrassed of the first half,” Williams said. “How many times do we have to be embarrassed the first half, before we go, ‘Oh, we don’t look very good?’”

Saturday, the Aggies took a 36-20 lead into halftime and never wavered through the second half. Halftime adjustments have been limited this season as Williams has just emphasized continuing to work through the fundamentals that have been taught since Williams arrived in Aggieland in the spring.

“We’re not good enough to make those seismic adjustments,” Williams said. “What we need to do is a continuation of the practice.”

What will help the Aggies on Tuesday and moving forward is if they can shoot 53% from the field, as they did in Vanderbilt. A 56% mark against Northwestern State in the season opener is the Aggies’ only better shooting performance.

On the other hand, LSU enters Tuesday’s contest as the SEC leader in field goal percentage and ranks 13th in the nation. Sophomore forward Emmitt Williams leads the Tigers and is second in the SEC in field goal percentage at 62.6%.

However, if the Aggies could bring its SEC win streak to three games with a win over LSU, the A&M squad who continually struggled from the beginning could find itself in third place in the SEC.

“We’re redoing it, and can we redo it and can we figure out a way to just get a little bit better relative to these things?” Williams said.

NOTES — Texas A&M moved up to 118 in the most recent NET rankings Monday, having previously sat at No. 124. This week is the first this season the Aggies have not been the lowest-ranked Power 5 team in the country, now ranked higher than South Carolina, Washington State, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, UCLA, Cal and Nebraska.

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