Sunday, February 26, 2006

And so it comes to this (long)

OK - I think it has become as simple as this - beat Texas on national TV Wednesday night (7:00 ESPN2) and you in all likelihood will have just punched your ticket for an invitation to the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

The Aggies used 40 minutes of suffocating defense to get a big win over another Big XII North opponent at Reed on Saturday. They held Nebraska to a terrible day shooting the basketball in forcing the Huskers to go 16 of 51 (31%) on the afternoon. A&M was less than perfect shooting the ball from the outside, but did manage to post their most lopsided conference win of the season in beating Nebraska 66-55 in front of nearly 11,000 fans.

What did this win mean for Coach G. and the Aggies?

Besides guaranteeing them no worse than a .500 finish in the league? - It was their 5th league win in a row, their longest streak since joining the Big XII 10 years ago. It also puts them squarely on the bubble in hopes of garnering an invite to The Big Dance. It means that CBS listed them as one of 5 "teams on the rise" Sunday during the nationwide broadcast of the Michigan State / Indiana game. It means that Dick Vitale mentioned how big the UT game is for the Aggies on two different occasions during Saturday night's Texas/Kansas game (more on that below). It means that Coach G was interviewed on ESPN Radio's College Gamenight on Saturday.

In a nutshell, Saturday's win has people on a national level talking about Texas A&M basketball for all of the right reasons - wins over losses.

Besides the awesome defensive effort by the whole group, Saturday's win was helped tremendously by the efforts of two guys - Chris Walker and Antanas Kavaliauskas.

My feelings should be pretty obvious by now, but that being said, Chris Walker had his best all-around game as an Aggie on Saturday. He had 12 points, 8 boards, 2 steals, and a block, all while only committing 2 turnovers. One good game a good player does not make, but if Chris would produce at this level day in and day out, you would not have anyone questioning the fact that he starts and the number of minutes he plays each night. I will give credit where credit is due and the kid had a great game on Saturday.

The other guy that continues to get better game after game is The Big Lithuanian, Antanas Kavaliauskas. AK was forced into 20+ minutes of action on Saturday as Joseph Jones spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble. AK answered the call by putting up 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting with 6 boards and 2 blocks. Earlier in the season, Joe getting in foul trouble would spell doom for this team. That is no longer the case as AK has established himself as a more than serviceable backup and is easily the teams most improved player over the course of this season.

Saturday's game was also the first game in some time that didn't feature the Aggies typical pattern of; come out hot - go completely dead - fall behind big - rally - make it close or win.

The Aggies led by as many as 13 and by 11 on 4 different occasions before the intermission. This included an 11-1 lead more than 7 minutes into the game.

Nebraska rallied all the way back to get within 33-30 just after halftime before the Aggies turned on the gas and pulled away for good never leading by no fewer than 7 after the 10 minute mark.

The importance of this win can not be understated as the 8-6 Aggies are two games over .500 for the first time ever in Big XII play. They are also now all alone (technically) in the 4th spot of the league (Colorado is also 8-6) and the boys in Maroon and White own the head-to-head tiebreakers with the next two closest teams - Colorado and Nebraska.

Some quick hits:

- A&M was better from the charity stripe going 11-17. You would still like to see them make 13 or 14 of those 17, but hey, we'll take 11 for now.

- Acie's turn to go full throttle this time as he played all 40 minutes.

- Joseph Jones had 11 points and 4 boards in only 21 minutes. As we said up top, he was in foul trouble most of the game.

- Carter (11) and Kavaliauskas (23) have clearly established themselves as Gillispie's guys on the bench. The 5 starters and these 2 guys will likely play 90%+ of the minutes from here on out.

- A&M set a school record for most blocks in conference play with 10 on Saturday.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Status unchanged - Eddie Smith did not play again. I do not know what the story is - perhaps that ankle is worse than was reported.

Bizarre Stat(s) of the Game - Nebraska shot 4 of 23 (17%) from the field in the first half.

Looking Ahead

I can't go back to the days of Shelby Metcalf, but I can say this with all certainty - Wednesday's game against Texas is the biggest game in the last 20 years at Texas A&M. The Aggies are on the cusp of going to the big dance for the first time since 1987. All it will take is a win over your arch-rival who is coming off a HUGE win over one of the hottest teams in the country.

UT beat the absolute dog snot out of Kansas 80-55 on Saturday night in probably the biggest conference matchup of the season. The game in Austin was never close and was not even that fun to watch. UT looked downright bad over their two previous games in losing to OSU in Stillwater and escaping Manhattan with a one point win on Wednesday last week over KSU.

They apparently got the kinks worked out and simply stomped all over a red-hot KU team that came to Austin with a 10 game winning streak.

As good as they have looked at times this season - UT only goes 5 guys deep and really has no bench to speak of. Their starting 5 of Buckman/Tucker/Aldredge/Gibson/Paulino are as good as anyone in the country and can kill you if they get rolling. But, as Beau and I discussed this afternoon they are however a different team on the road and A&M does present some nice match-up problems for them.

Law and Kirk can hang with Gibson and Paulino and the trio of Jones/Kavaliauskas/Pompey can bang inside with Buckman and Aldredge. This leaves a big question mark on who will guard the likely big XII player of the year - PJ Tucker. The guy is awesome and even tougher to guard, he's too big for 3's to shut him down and too small and quick for 4's to guard.

The Aggies answer to the problem? My vote would rest with Martellus Bennett. Martellus is almost the exact same size as Tucker and is certainly just as athletic. My guess is that Coach G will throw Walker at Tucker and Chris will find himself over-matched pretty quickly, just as he did in their first matchup earlier this year. This isn't a knock on Walker's effort, just a testament to how good Tucker is.

Here's to hoping we see Martellus for more than 4 or 5 minutes. If nothing else, he has 5 fouls to use and beat on the guy for a while. This is the formula they used in Austin earlier in the season and let's hope we see it again on Wednesday.

Again, the game is on ESPN2 at 7:00 - be sure to tune in.

By the way - The students have already started camping out at Reed. Who would have thought we'd see the day were students were camping out to guarantee themselves the best seats in the house for Aggie Basketball!

Big 12 Standings
Texas 12-2
Kansas 11-3
Oklahoma 10-4
Texas A&M 8-6
Colorado 8-6
Nebraska 7-7
Texas Tech 6-8
Kansas State 5-9
Iowa State 5-9
Oklahoma State 5-9
Missouri 4-10
Baylor 3-11

Big XII games this week.

Monday, Feb. 27
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma - 8:00 ESPN

Tuesday, Feb. 28
Missouri at Iowa State - 7:00

Wednesday, Mar. 1
Colorado at Kansas - 7:00
Texas at Texas A&M - 7:00 ESPN2
Kansas State at Nebraska - 7:00
Texas Tech at Baylor - 7:00 ESPN+ (KTBU Ch. 55 in Houston)

Saturday, Mar. 4
Texas A&M at Texas Tech - 12:30 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)
Kansas at Kansas State - 3:00 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)
Baylor at Oklahoma State - 6:00
Iowa State at Colorado - 7:00

Sunday, Mar. 5
Nebraska at Missouri - 1:00 ESPN+
Oklahoma at Texas - 3:00 CBS

As you were.

(Oh yeah, go get some maroon kool-aid, it's tasty right now!)


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How in the world.... - Missouri

There is not one reason outside of the fact that A&M had more points than Missouri when the clock read 00:00 that the Aggies should have won that game last night. In-fact, I am still not sure how they escaped Columbia with a the win 54-51.

As has become the norm with this bunch, they came out of the gates red-hot, went completely brain dead for a long stretch, rallied, found a way to win, and kept us all tuned in.

The Aggies jumped all over the Tigers early taking a 13-7 lead on a Josh Carter 3 from the corner. The teams then traded buckets for a few minutes and A&M still held a 5 point lead (16-11) at the 11:42 mark of the first half when Acie drilled a 3 from the top of the key. This of course is when they went brain dead and missed their next 11 consecutive shots.

They did not score again until Joe knocked down a free throw with 4:18 left in the half (a stretch of over 7 minutes). Before Joe's free throw, they they had allowed Missouri to build a comfortable 26-16 lead. Dominique Kirk however drilled a 3 with 25 seconds left in the half to cut the Tiger lead to 33-28 going into the break and giving the Aggies a little momentum.

Chris Walker hit a 3 right out of the half that cut the Missouri lead to 2 and it looked like the Aggies were going to set up shop. This of course was not the case and would have been too anti-climatic for this group of guys. They instead allowed Missouri to stretch the lead to 10 points again at 47-37 with 11:40 left in the game.

Yes, you are reading that correctly, Missouri had 47 points with 11:40 left in the game and yes, they finished with 51 in total.

A solid combination of good Aggie defense and poor Missouri shooting let the good guys go on a 17-4 run to close out the game and secure the win.

In-fact, Missouri went ahead 51-46 at the 6:02 mark of the game and did not score a single point from then on out. Their last 11 possessions (10 shots) looked like this:

MISSED LAYUP by Brown, Marshall 5:07
MISSED JUMPER by Watkins, Marcus 5:02
MISSED 3 PTR by Horton, Jason 4:16
MISSED 3 PTR by Gardner, Thomas 3:28
TURNOVR by Horton, Jason 02:33
MISSED FT SHOT by Young, Kevin 1:45
MISSED 3 PTR by Gardner, Thomas 0:50
MISSED LAYUP by McKinney, Jimmy 0:41
MISSED 3 PTR by Brown, Marshall 0:12
MISSED 3 PTR by Watkins, Marcus 0:04
MISSED 3 PTR by Gardner, Thomas 0:00

I don't know what else to say, other than WOW!

A win is a win and we'll take them any way we can get them!

Some quick hits:

- A&M was terrible from the free throw line again going 6 of 11. That is 22-46 in the past three games.

- Dominique Kirk played all 40 minutes last night.

- Joseph Jones only had 8 points and 5 boards last night on 3 of 7 shooting in 33 minutes. He fouled out and was a non-factor all night long.

- The 5 starters Kirk/Law/Jones/Pompey/Walker played 169 of the 200 minutes. Carter (16) and Kavaliauskas (10) were the only guys getting significant minutes off the bench.

- One of the funniest moments of the evening last night came when Pompey tried to lob an entry pass into Kavaliauskas that somehow clanked off the rim before AK could get to it. The pass was so bad it spawned this text message from Bryan Brown - "Pompey with what will later be awarded 'worst pass of the season'". It was classic Pompey. The announcers even pondered, "Will that be a missed shot or a turnover?"

Pompey Foul Update - Marlon only had 2 fouls in his 33 minutes of action - perhaps this stat is played out at this point. Come on Marlon, help me out.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Eddie Smith did not play again. I do not know if he made the trip with the team. Martellus also only played 3 minutes.

Bizarre Stat(s) of the Game - Missouri in the second half - shot 27% from the field in going 8 of 29. This also included 0 for 9 from behind the arc.

Looking Ahead:

The Aggies face Nebraska on Saturday at Reed Arena (3:00 ESPN+ / Ch. 51 in Houston).

With every one of these late season games the Aggies are winning, the next game becomes that much bigger and Saturday's game is no exception. Nebraska is a solid ball club this year and will give Old Army all they can handle.

If they can find a way to knock off the huskers on Saturday and guarantee themselves no worse than a .500 finish in the league for the second straight season, you can not be disappointed, no matter the outcome from that point forward.

I just hope they can take care of business on Saturday and not get caught looking ahead to the Longhorns who come to town right after Nebraska.

Despite all of the optimism I spew in these notes, I didn't think we'd be sitting here talking about a 4 game winning streak and the guys in maroon and white sitting at 7-6 in the league with 3 left to play.


Big 12 Standings
Kansas 11-2
Texas 10-2
Oklahoma 9-4
Colorado 7-5
Texas A&M 7-6
Nebraska 6-6
Texas Tech 6-7
Kansas State 5-7
Iowa State 4-8
Oklahoma State 4-8
Missouri 4-9
Baylor 2-11

If Nebraska knocks off Colorado tonight in Lincoln, the Aggies will be tied for 4th place in the league with both Colorado and Nebraska. That will make Saturday's game in College Station that much bigger.

You already own the tiebreaker with CU and you would obviously want to own it with Nebraska as well.

Big XII games this week.


Colorado at Nebraska - 7:00
Texas at Kansas State - 7:00 ESPN2
Oklahoma State at Iowa State - 8:00 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)

Saturday, Feb. 25

Missouri at Colorado - 11:30 ESPN+
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State - 12:00 ABC
Iowa State at Baylor - 12:30 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)
Kansas State at Oklahoma - 3:00 ESPN+
Nebraska at Texas A&M - 3:00 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)
Kansas at Texas - 8:00 ESPN - BIG 12 GAME OF THE YEAR!

As you were.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Out of Waco With a Win - Baylor (2)

Chris Walker was a walk-on?

I don't know if many of you caught Reid Gettys' (Big XII ESPN+ announcer) rendition of The Chris Walker Story on Saturday, a touching tale about a REC league superstar from Dallas that walked on to the Aggie Basketball team. It's a good story if you have not heard about it.

Chris and Marlon Pompey were instrumental in a late first half collapse that nearly cost the Aggies the game on Saturday.

The Aggies took a 31-20 lead with 2:34 to go in the first half with Law, Jones, and Carter on the bench. This left Walker, Pompey, Bennett, White, and Kirk on the floor. The last 5 Aggie possessions of the half led to 5 turnovers and 0 shot attempts. All the while Baylor hit three 3's, had two dunks and two free throws to take a 34-31 halftime lead.

Baylor came out of the half and scored the first 4 points to go ahead 38-31, making it an 18-0 run at that point in the game.

Enter Josh Carter.

The kid from Dallas very well may have saved the day for The Good Guys in knocking down back-to-back 3's to cut the Baylor lead to 38-37.

Enter Antanas Kavaliauskas.

The next seven or eight minutes of the game were dominated by AK, a span which saw him have three buckets, 6 rebounds (4 offensive), an assist and a block. By the time the big Lithuanian was done the Aggies were up 55-51 and were well on their way.

Baylor hung around, as they always seem to do against A&M, but the game was put on ice when Acie Law hit a tough floater with his right hand (he is left handed) from about 6 feet away that put the boys in Maroon up 57-51. The Aggies were terrible from the line again, but managed to knock down 5 of their last 6 to finish off the Bears and net their third win in a row by knocking off Baylor 64-60.

Any road win in the Big XII is big, even if only in Waco, and this was a big one for the Aggies.

Some quick hits:
- A&M was 7 of 15 from the free throw line - bad again. That is 16-35 in the past two games. It's going to come back to hurt them at some point.

- Walker played only 15 minutes and Pompey only 14. Carter and AK made up most of their minutes. That has to be a good thing, right?

- Martellus played 5 minutes vs. Baylor. Again, he looked pretty good when he was in there. Strange.

- Walker and Pompey combined to go 2 for 8. That's 4-15 in their past two games. Bad Bad Bad.

Pompey Foul Update - Marlon only had 1 foul in his 15 minutes of action - something is still very wrong.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Eddie Smith, finally healthy, missed the game to attend to a family emergency. Hopefully he'll be ready to go tomorrow at Missouri. Watching White and Kirk handle the rock was painful.

Bizarre Stat(s) of the Game - Not much stood out again - A&M was 5 of 18 (28%) from behind the arc, that's two games in a row below 30%.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies head to Columbia to take on Missouri tomorrow (7:00 FSN - The Chronicle says FSN in Houston will carry the game - keep your fingers crossed).

Missouri, by all accounts does not seem to have much in the tank. They were blasted at Kansas on Saturday 79-46. There is no doubt that A&M can go into Columbia and win this game. Their best two players are Thomas Gardner and Jimmy McKinney. If Kirk and Law can lock down those two, I think Old Army should come out of Columbia with a 4 game winning streak.

Big 12 Standings
Texas 10-2
Kansas 10-2
Oklahoma 8-4
Colorado 7-5
Texas A&M 6-6
Nebraska 6-6
Texas Tech 6-6
Kansas State 5-7
Iowa State 4-8
Oklahoma State 4-8
Missouri 4-8
Baylor 2-10

As you were.

Monday, February 13, 2006

.....You Ain't Got No Alibi - OSU (2)

Goodness gracious was that UGLY! 46 to 44, seriously?

17 to 19 in the second half, really?

All the while, the two teams combined to shoot 9 of 36 in the 2nd half.


The Humble High School girls beat Beaumont West Brook on Friday 65-49. That game was probably more.....

OK - You get the point by now, I am certain.

Listen, at the end of the day the good news is that a win is a win, bottom line. The boys in white and maroon are now in 6th place in the league and still poised to continue their big February run.

Coming out of Austin last week, we said they had two MUST WIN games this week and the good guys managed to do just that in scratching out ugly wins against CU and OSU and protecting home court.

I don't want to spend too much time on last Saturday's game as there isn't much to say other than it was just tough to watch. Those of you there or watching on TV know what I am talking about.

I was so happy for Joe to see him hit the game winner. Especially after missing two free throws that would have put the onus on OSU to hit the big shot late while playing from behind.

With the clock winding down Joe and Acie ran a great pick-and-roll from the right elbow extended just inside the 3 point line. When the 3 OSU defenders went with Acie off the pick, it left The Pride of Normangee with a great look from about 12 feet that hit nothing but the bottom of the net.

I thought it was a great move by Gillispie to not call a timeout after the OSU miss. There was enough time on the clock to get set and run your play without having to draw it up on the sideline. I n not calling the timeout he also didn't let Sean Sutton get a defensive set in place to shut down A&M.

You had OSU back on their heels in transition with Kirk pushing the ball and A&M took full advantage of it. Kirk found Acie, Acie called the play and he and Joe ran it to perfection.

I don't think there is any way all 3 OSU guys would have followed Acie off the pick if they would have had the time to get into a defensive set. One of the OSU defenders certainly would have stayed with Joe. That being said, I was not surprised to see Acie draw that kind of attention, especially after what he did to them in Stillwater (35 points back on 01-11-06).

One other thing I want to point out:
Josh Carter hit a 3 with 13:03 left in the game that put A&M up 39-29. The only other FG's from that point on were a layup by Acie at 8:01 and the game winner by Joe at 0:01.1.

Two field goals in the final 13:03.

That's not good and they as a collective group are going to need to shoot the ball better down the stretch.

Hopefully coach won't kill them this week (heaven forbid give them a day off) and let them get their legs back underneath them.

Also - Just as an FYI - Eddie Sutton has been charged with DUI after what happened in Stillwater on Friday - That truly makes me very sad. He was a guy that had a very public and highly documented drinking problem in the past and had battled back and won. He is one of the best basketball coaches to ever work the sideline and it's too bad that this will be the way he is going out. He will take a leave of absence for the remainder of the season.

Some quick hits:

- A&M was 9 of 20 from the free throw line - bad. OSU was 17 of 18 - good.

- Antanas played his best game since the ISU win. He had 5 and 5 in only 14 minutes of action. He also looked good on the defensive end keeping OSU's big guys off balance.

- The regular starters (Kirk/Law/Jones/Walker/Pompey) played 162 of the 200 minutes or 81% of the game.

- Joe managed to play 35 minutes and only commit 1 foul.

- Martellus played 4 minutes again on Saturday and for the most part looked really good. Not sure why he's not getting some of Walker's and Pompey's time. He had one great entry pass into Joe (something Walker and Pompey can't do to save their lives - ever) and was also moving bodies around inside. This kid has got to start seeing the floor for longer periods of time.

- Walker and Pompey combined to go 2 for 7.

- Acie was 3 for 11 with only one 3 point attempt (he missed). He did make-up for a poor shooting day by pitching in 7 assists - tying his second highest total of the season (8 vs. PSU on 12-03-05 and 7 vs. Baylor a couple weeks back).

Pompey Foul Update - Marlon only had 3 fouls again in 28 minutes of action - something is clearly wrong.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Welcome back Eddie Smith, you played 1 minute, in at the 8:24 mark of the 1st half and back out at 7:21.

Bizarre Stat(s) of the Game - Not much stood out - A&M was 3 of 11 (27%) from behind the arc again, that's not going to get it done down the stretch.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies now head into their bye week (no mid-week game this week) before heading to Waco on Saturday (12:30 ESPN+) and Columbia on Tuesday the 21st (7:00 FSN - I hope - may be sports bar necessary - see ya there!).

You can afford to drop one of the games this week if you plan on beating Texas at home on March 1, good luck with that.

I'm going to keep them in the "must win" category for now.

From here on out the goal has to be 9 and 7 in league play, plain and simple. It does not matter how you get there as long as you win 4 of these last 5.

No team has ever finished Big 12 play with a winning record and not made the tournament - keep that in mind knowing full well that the conference has also never seen this much parody from top to bottom.

Big 12 Standings
Texas 9-1
Kansas 8-2
Oklahoma 7-3
Colorado 6-4
Nebraska 5-5
Texas A&M 5-6
Kansas State 4-6
Iowa State 4-6
Texas Tech 4-6
Missouri 4-7
Oklahoma State 3-7
Baylor 2-8

Carry on.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Huge Win!! - Colorado

The theme of last nights game most probably can be best described as "DESPITE".

The boys in white & maroon found a way to win DESPITE a tiny crowd of only 6,876.

They found a way to get a win DESPITE Joseph Jones only having 8 points and making only 2 field goals (both in the first 2:12 of the game).

They secured a huge win DESPITE "Stitches" (Chris Walker) being their best 3 point shooter (including hitting 2 crucial 3's late in the game - he had 3 total).

They won DESPITE giving up a 40-17 run to CU (up 13-0 to down 40-30).

The good guys won DESPITE missing the front end of 4 one-and-ones.

Protecting the home court DESPITE getting outrebounded 32-25 by CU.

Getting a win DESPITE going 8:03 without a point in the first half.

All-in-all this was a huge win for A&M and it got this crucial week off to a great start. In-fact, this is probably their biggest (not best, and probably ugliest) win of the year and sets up a big momentum game vs. OSU on Saturday at Reed (2:30 - ABC Regional - White Out).

In addition to what we mentioned above, the Aggies played much better on the defensive end against a pretty good Colorado team. They forced CU into 24 turnovers, easily the highest number yet for the Aggies in Big XII play.

Furthermore, they were able to convert those 24 turnovers into 31 points. In my opinion, the turnovers and their aggressive defense are the only reason they were able to hang around and ultimately get the W.

The end of the game was very bizarre.

A&M was up 59-58 and CU had the ball with 8 seconds left. Richard Roby (more on him in a second) was fouled by Dominique Kirk with 1.6 seconds left (a weak bump call you expect to not be called at home). They called it on the floor and not the shot, which was questionable at best, and Roby went to the line to shoot one-and-one. He missed the free throw and Martellus grabbed the rebound (great sub coach! -#2 was brought in for that reason) and the buzzer sounded.

The dance team was out on the floor doing their thing, the teams were shaking hands, media guys were out snapping pictures, fans were leaving, then the announcer starts yelling "Leave the floor immediately! Clear the floor! Leave the floor immediately!".

Apparently they called a foul on CU with 0.5 seconds left when Martellus grabbed the board.

Martellus went to the line for 2 shots. He made the first and tried to miss the second intentionally. In trying to miss the second, he banked it in pretty hard off the glass putting the final margin at 61-58.

CU missed a half court shot at the buzzer and people that had A&M -2.5 celebrated!!!

Richard Roby is REALLY good. He is the 2nd best player I've seen this year at Reed behind Kansas' Brandon Rush. Roby will for sure be a guy you will see in "the league" one day (hopefully next year).

Speaking of, why do they call it "the league" when American professional basketball is played under the National Basketball Association?

Very well then, Roby is a guy you will see playing in "the association" one day.

Some quick hits:
- Richard Roby is Kenyon Martin's half brother - not sure if they share a mom or a dad, but someone has some great hoops genetics in them.

- Acie Law played a solid game yesterday netting 19 points. He didn't shoot it all that well going 7 of 17, but played pretty well on both ends.

- The regular starters (Kirk/Law/Jones/Walker/Pompey) played 171 of the 200 minutes, all 30+ minutes.

- Dominique Kirk led the Aggies in rebounds with 8.

- Martellus played 4 minutes last night. Coach Gillispie said after the game "Martellus is really coming on right now, he's becoming a force on this team, he is easily playing his best basketball right now." Martellus played 4 minutes last night.

Pompey Foul Update - The streak is over! Marlon only had 3 fouls last night DESPITE playing a robust 34 minutes.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Eddie Smith, hello, Eddie, are you home? Are you there Eddie? Mr. Smith played 0 minutes last night.

Bizarre Stat(s) of the Game - The Aggies were 2-11 (18.2%) from behind the arc in the 1st half. 12 of Colorado's 19 FG's were threes.

Looking Ahead

OK - We said they had two MUST WIN games at home this week. They are half way there.

The good guys welcome the Cowboys from Stillwater to Reed on Saturday in a huge payback game (I still can't believe they lost that game in Stillwater).

OSU lost to OU in Stillwater last night by a score of 73-65 despite trailing by as many as 15 with 5 minutes left to play.

Eddie Sutton was none too pleased with his team last night:
- "We are not as tough as the teams in the past that I have had here. I'm talking about not only physical toughness, I'm talking about mentally tough. I've told these guys all year long, this is the softest team in 16 years that I have ever coached. I just don't think this team has the same passion for the game as teams I've coached before."

Personally, I don't like hearing that crap right before they come to College Station. Coach, please don't set this up as a rally game for your guys, just let them continue to suck for one more game.


Hopefully Reed will be packed on Saturday and the Aggies can get the 2nd of their "must win" games at home this week. Next week they have their mid-week bye before traveling to Baylor on Saturday the 18th.

Big 12 Standings
Texas 8-1
Kansas 7-2
Oklahoma 6-3
Colorado 5-4
Nebraska 5-4
Kansas State 4-5
Iowa State 4-5
Texas Tech 4-5
Texas A&M 4-6
Oklahoma State 3-6
Missouri 3-7
Baylor 2-7

As you were.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Important February Stretch - Texas (1)

The toughest part of the schedule is now over as Old Army heads into a big February stretch run that features 4 of their next 6 at home.

I thought the Aggies played great in the 2nd half on Saturday in Austin, unfortunately it just wasn't enough to overcome their marginal 1st half effort and poor 1st half shooting.

Hopefully they can carry their 2nd half momentum into this week's big games.

They laid down some nasty (literally) numbers in the first half going 1 of 7 (14%) from behind the arc and 4 of 11 (36%) from the charity stripe. They came out looking a little tentative and it showed in their effort.

Texas, as big and physical as they are, took it straight at A&M and methodically built up a 18 point lead with 5 minutes to go before halftime.

The Aggies were able to cut it to 13 at the half, but UT came right back out of halftime and pushed it to 18 on two different occasions. That's when the big fella went to work.

Joe was awesome again on Saturday pouring in a hard earned 31 points on 11 of 16 shooting against one of the best front court lines in the nation.

Buckman/Aldredge/Tucker didn't have an answer for #30 all day long. Joe was also great as usual from the line going 9 of 11.

He netted points 30 and 31 on a little jumper just outside of the lane at about the 4 minute mark to cut the Texas lead to 6.

Joe fouled out on the next trip down the floor and that was all she wrote.

(I could go on and on about the Buckman flop, but it won't change anything - Buckman is a pasty-white piece of crap that gets away with that stuff all the time. It should be pretty obvious at this point that I don't care for him much.)

Some quick hits:
- This game was a heck of alot closer than the 13 point final margin indicated.

- Martellus played some quality minutes and was OUTSTANDING on the defensive end of the floor in helping to neutralize (or at least slow down) PJ Tucker.

- Pompey was more-or-less horrible again. With the exception of the 2nd OU game he has not been a factor in Big XII play.

- Walker took a nasty elbow from Martellus late in the game and was bleeding all over the floor. Looked like he got it right above the eye. He was a non-factor in playing only 16 minutes. His minutes have come off significantly over the last two games, 15 and 16 respectively, this after averaging almost 24 in league play.

- Carter played 34 minutes on Saturday, easily his most of the season. He struggled shooting the ball in going 2 for 10 (0-5 from deep).

- Beau Muhlbach and Edjuan Green both made late appearances, that was strange.

Pompey Foul Update - Marlon keeps finding new and creative ways to foul out.

This time he did it in 20 minutes with 0 points and 0 rebounds. The streak is now at 4.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Antanas Kavaliauskus played 2 minutes going 1 for 1 and 2 points.

Bizarre Stat of the Game - A&M had 32 fouls to UT's 19.

OK - We always had this one at Texas chalked up as a loss, time to move on.

I will, however, say that I am much less pessimistic about the March 1st rematch now than I was before Saturday. We'll see what happens between now and then.

Looking Ahead

The boys in maroon have two MUST WIN games at home this week if they have any shot of making the tournament. Colorado on Wednesday (6:00 FSN) and OSU on Saturday (2:30 ABC regional).

Colorado beat K-State in Boulder mid-week before getting blasted in Ames last night trailing by ~20 for nearly the entire game.

OSU lost to Nebraska in Stillwater mid-week and then turned around and won in Manhattan by 2 on Saturday after a 9-0 run to close out the game.

Carry on.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Kansas / Baylor (1) / OU (2)

It's been a couple of games since our last update.....

The KU game was a tough loss, especially as well as the good guys played in the first half.

KU came out of the locker room at halftime and went on a 16-0 run that blew the game wide open and Old Army never recovered. I'm too conservative, but I did find it curious that Gillispie did not call a timeout to stop the big run.

As Bryan Brown pointed out, perhaps a little tough love from the coach? Who knows?

This game proved that the Aggies, while vastly improved over two years ago, just aren't quite ready to go toe-to-toe with the big boys of the Big XII.

After losing back-to-back games in Mid-January, the Jayhawks have rattled off
4 wins in a row to the tune of a combined 360 to 264 (or an average margin of victory of 24 points). Needless to say they are playing some pretty good ball right now.

Brandon Rush is probably the best Freshman in the league and may very well go on to be better than his big brother when it's all said and done.

OU visits KU on Sunday afternoon (noon / CBS) in what may be one of the Big XII's best games of the year.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Red White hit back-to-back shots (a layup and a 3) in a 34 second span and was immediately pulled.

Bizarre Stat of the Game - KU shot 44 free throws on 31 A&M fouls.

This was the most lopsided 2 point game that I may have ever seen.

A&M was in control the entire game and Baylor never threatened until Aaron Bruce tossed in the Bear's 16th 3-pointer of the game well after the buzzer sounded at the end of the game.

Bruce's last 3 brought the final to 72-70 in favor of the Aggies. Joe Jones was a beast against the overmatched Bears - the big fella played his best game in some time in scoring 29 points and pulling down 10 boards.

In the second half, the Aggies matched their biggest lead of the day at 12 points with 8 minutes left. They had a great opportunity to put the Bears away for good and failed to do so. You can afford to let teams like Baylor hang around like that, but there is no doubt that in order to get to the next level, this group of guys will need to learn to put people away.

This was a good (and much needed) win sandwiched in-between two tough games. Baylor finally put up a W last night in beating KSU in Waco - good job Bears.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Martellus Bennett didn't touch the floor.

Bizarre Stat of the Game - Baylor made 24 field goals - 16 three's and 8 two's.

Much like the KU game a week ago, last night just proved that the boys in maroon and white aren't quite ready to start taking down the conference heavyweights.

They looked pretty good at times, especially in the first half, but their poor shooting and lack of perimeter defense eventually caught up with them. Jones/Pompey/White combined to go 7 of 27 (26%) on the night - ouch! All the while Law/Kirk/Carter (11 of 18 (61%) including 8 of 10 behind the arc) kept them in the game by all shooting the ball very well.

The biggest positive that I can find coming out of the game last night was that OU went up by 14 with 6 minutes left and the Aggies didn't quit. They battled all the way back to get it within 3 at the 3:10 mark.

At the end of the day, the better team won the game, plain and simple. Jeff pointed out on the phone that this like a microcosm of their season. They fall behind, rally back to make it close, and come up a little short.

Just enough to keep us interested and frustrated at the same time.

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Edjuan Green played 3 minutes last night. Edjuan had logged a total of 3 minutes (playing only once) over the last 7 games.

Bizarre Stat of the Game - Aggies shot 30% in the second half on 9 of 30 shooting. This included 5 of 9 from behind the arc. Take away the 3 pointers and they were 4 of 21 (19%) from the field.

Looking Ahead

I'm still not ready to write them off just yet. After Saturday's game at Texas (1:00 ESPN national) they are done with the meat of the schedule.

In-fact, the only two remaining games in which I feel they don't have a reasonable chance of winning are both against The Evil Empire.

If (When) they lose on Saturday they will fall to 3 and 6 in the league, but 6 of their remaining 7 are winnable games.

If they can pull off a huge run to close out February, they will finish 9-7 in the conference and 19-8 overall heading into the Big XII tournament in Dallas.

If all of this plays out and you win 1 in Dallas I think you are a solid bubble team at 20-9. If you can win one on Thursday and then somehow upset one of the top 4 teams on Friday, I think you will earn a spot in the Big Dance at 21-9. This is a huge task considering that A&M is the only team to have never won a Big XII tournament game.

The most likely scenario is that we are looking at another NIT team this year, which is still a major step forward for a team that was 0-16 in the league only two seasons ago.

OSU Game on February 11th

There is a group of at least 15 people (so far) going to the OSU game on the 11th (2:30 - ABC). If you don't have tickets yet, I would highly encourage you to get a few and head up. We'll be setting up a small tailgate before the game with some food and adult beverages. You know you all have a standing invite to join us.

As you were.