Monday, January 23, 2006

Biggest & Best Win Of The Season - Iowa State

There was no way the basketball Gods were going to be that cruel.

The Aggies got a much needed split on the road and are now home for KU on Wednesday (7:00 / FSNH) in what will be the biggest game of the season so far.

So many things finally went right for the Aggies, I don't know where to start, but you know it's big when the phone doesn't stop buzzing from all the calls and text messages flying back-and-forth after that game.

Good stuff.

Coach G called timeout with 0:33 after a big shot by AK (see below) to set up the foul and take Walker/Pompey/Bennett out of the game in favor of White/Carter/Jones - FINALLY a shooters lineup with the game on the line.

ISU chose not to account for Red and he made 'em pay and very well may have just saved the season for Old Army. Kenneth "Red" White stepped up in dramatic fashion and knocked down the biggest shot of his career as the clock was winding down in regulation to keep the Aggies alive in Ames. As the point man on top of the ISU zone, Curtis Stinson trailed Acie Law away from the ball leaving Red WAO (wide a*s open) for a game-tying 3 point shot. A clutch basket that finally fell for the good guys with 15 seconds to play.

ISU had a good look at the buzzer, but it just didn't fall.

Why was Red WAO? Because the guy playing the left side in the ISU zone was out on Carter who was also in position to jack up a 3 ball. There is no way they would have accounted for Pompey like they did Carter if he would have been on the floor. Great move by Coach G.

Most everyone will remember Red's tying shot or he and Carter going "bucket-stop-bucket" with a pair of 3's in overtime that helped seal the deal, but the biggest shot of the game in my opinion was when Kavaliauskas threw in the baseline jumper from about 10 feet with 33 seconds left to get the Aggies within 2 at 70-72.

They then fouled Rahshon Clark who only made one of two free throws to set up Red's big shot that tied it at 73. (Red also grabbed the rebound after the Clark miss...)

Speaking of Kavaliauskas, he easily had his best game as an Aggie going 7 for 10 and 15 points in 29 quality minutes. Hopefully this was a coming out party and not a flash in the pan game for the big guy. Having someone else inside to make defenses account for and to take pressure off of Joe could go a long way from here on out.

It was becoming pretty clear that the gameplan against the Aggies was to throw a zone at them, shut down Jones and let Law get his.

The rotations on Saturday were so much better than in the past couple of games. A&M went on a 15-5 run (including 9-0) early in the second half with Jones and Kavaliauskas inside and Smith/Carter/Law playing outside. The 10 minute stretch with those 5 on the court was the best 10 minutes of ball they have played in some time. That was a ton of fun to watch as those guys are easily amongst the most athletic guys on the team.

More AK and Bennett - Less Walker and Pompey!!!!

Welcome back Eddie Smith - it was good to see you.

Josh Carter struggled with his shot again by going 3 of 8 on the day, but he had two 3's that were big. One in the middle of the 15-5 run to get back in the game and one in overtime that tied the game. From that basket on, they never looked back and took the lead for good when Red hit a 3 on the back end of the before mentioned "B-S-B".

Carter has struggled with his shot through 4 games in a row now, but it's good to see the coaches not lose faith in him. It's pretty clear I'm a big homer when it comes to this kid, but I was glad to see him keep on shooting. Possible man-crush?

Acie and Joe both had good days, very quietly - Acie had 17 on 6 of 9 shooting and chipped in 6 assists. Joe 17 points and 10 boards. He also shot the ball better going 6 of 11. Acie didn't shot the ball as much, but then again, he didn't need to.

As a team, they finally broke out of their shooting slump by shooting 58% on the day - 32 makes on 55 shots. They continued to struggle from the charity stripe however, only making 13 out of 23 (56.5%). The biggest thing was that they made them when they needed them, including 4 in a row over the last 0:24 of overtime.

We said we needed a split last week and we got just that - this sets the table for a HUGE game at Reed against the surging Jayhawks on Wednesday.

KU is coming off of a 96-54 beatdown of Nebraska in Lawrence on Saturday. KU shot 72% in the first half and 60% on the game including 11 of 18 from behind the arc.

One of the toughest things in hoops is to shoot the ball well in back-to-back games.

Advantage Aggies?

Let's hope so.

If you can find a way to take down one of the best programs in the country on Wednesday you set yourself up for a stretch that could see you win 6 out of 8.

Wins over ISU and Kansas leads the way for games vs. Baylor (W), @ OU (L?) and @Texas (L), then back home for Colorado (W?) and OSU (W?) and finally @ Baylor (W?).

The two games at OU and at Texas are easily two of their three toughest games left, the other being UT in College Station. If you can go on a little run here and protect your home court - you could be 7-5 going into your final 4 games.

I don't want to get too far ahead of myself here and get too excited about what happened last Saturday, but it sure does set up nicely for the Aggies.

We need to remind ourselves that this is A&M sports we're dealing with here. We are all used to tons of promise and tons of disappointment.

I hope Reed is packed on Wednesday - the students are organizing a "white out" at Reed by encouraging everyone to wear white to the game - should look cool on TV if they pull it off.

I hope the students roll out and make it as tough as possible on KU.

Thanks for stopping by.

As you were.


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