Having slipped past the defense, Max Heidegger runs across the court. Dustin Harris / Daily Nexus

A great scoring night from sophomore guard Max Heidegger couldn’t keep the UCSB men’s basketball team from coming up short against the toughest opponent it will face this regular season season.

The Gauchos were blown out by No. 16 Texas A&M 84-65. The Aggies improved to 2-0 with the win on Friday night, while UCSB’s second loss in a row dropped its record to 1-2.

A&M is being touted as one of the top teams in the country for good reason, as the Gauchos got to see firsthand while on the road.

By the end of the first half, the Aggies had a better field goal percentage (51.6%), shot the three ball better (50%), turned the ball over less (5 TO’s compared to 7), snagged more rebounds (16-13), and led in basically every other statistical category.

Forward Tyler Davis got A&M going early, scoring six quick points and notching both an assist and block to help push the Aggies to a 19-7 lead five minutes into the first. The junior was a menace down low, using his quick post moves and athleticism to seemingly get to the basket at will in the first half.

He ended the period with 14 points, and although he didn’t score in the second half, the damage that he did in the first helped keep the game out of reach for the Gauchos.

The Aggies showed just how deep their squad was in the first twenty-minute half with six players scoring five or more points compared to just two for UCSB.

A big part of the space and offense the team produced was set up by the creativity of junior Admon Gilder, who tallied five assists in the first half. The guard is averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists per game this year, and the Gauchos were not defensively ready to handle his versatility.

He got going early from the three point line as well, which forced Heidegger or whoever was guarding him to press up early and open up both cutting and passing lanes for A&M. Gilder leads the team with an 18.8 box plus/minus (BPM), which means that at the moment he is 18.8 points better than the average player per 100 possessions, and his play was a big reason the Aggies went into halftime up by 14 points, 46-32.

Heidegger also played a huge part in making sure that A&M went into halftime up by 14, as he had to play the role of damage control in a first half that could have turned into a twenty point blowout.

The sophomore guard scored 16 points in the half, and even though his outside shots weren’t hitting, finishing 0-2 overall from behind the arc, he maintained an aggressive mindset which led to him going 8-8 at the free throw line.

Even the Texas A&M commentators were impressed with Heidegger, as the SEC stream was full of them praising both his offensive skills and athleticism, and how he’s able to be such a force even as an undersized guard.

There’s only a certain amount of time before a great team hit its stride however, and in the second half the Aggies left no doubt as to why they’re a top 20 team in the nation.

Both Davis and Gilder took a backseat to junior Dj Hogg in the second half. The 6’9 forward was scorching in the last twenty minutes, knocking in five threes and 19 points. Coming back from a one game suspension for violation of team policy, Hogg again showed his immense value to the team as a stretch forward.

He hit tough shot after tough shot over outstretched arms, and he seemed to have an answer for any spark or run by UCSB.

The Gauchos were clearly overmatched in Friday’s game. The Aggies are a strong veteran team that look poised for a big tournament run, and UCSB couldn’t win in any offensive category.

The fact that UCSB was able to tie in both turnovers and rebounds shows just how much effort the Gauchos put in, only to still lose by 19. This game is both a template and learning experience though.

A template in that A&M is where SB wants to be, a top 25 team that leads it’s conference. What the Gauchos learned is that it’s going to take a lot more to get to that point.

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