Monday, March 20, 2006

LSU Review

Sorry for the delay in getting out the LSU recap.

I tried to start typing a couple of times today and either something came up at work or I still just wasn't quite sure what to say.

Most of what I want to say right now we ll cover in the 2005-2006 season recap.

For now let s go back to last Saturday night when arguably the best season in Texas A&M basketball history came to what many of us feel was a premature end.

LSU Recap

The first half got off to a very shaky start for the Aggies as they managed to only put 3 points on
the board in the first six and a half minutes. In that time LSU had managed to put up 15.

Nevermind the fact that in that same timespan, both Acie Law and Joseph Jones each picked up
not 1, but 2 quick fouls.

Down 12, having both superstars in quick foul trouble, and staring down the barrel of an outright disaster, the Aggies dug in deep and let LSU know they were in for a long night of basketball.

Rallying behind stifling defensive pressure led by Dominique Kirk, Martellus Bennett, and Antanas Kavaliaksuas, over the next 8 minutes the Aggies held LSU without a single point for 17 straight possessions. During that span, the Tigers missed 12 shots and committed 5 turnovers.
While LSU was coming up empty, the Aggies were fighting to not only get back in the game, but to take control of the first half.

The boys in Maroon and White made 6 of their next 9 field goal attempts. Throw in a couple of Acie Law free throws for good measure and before you knew it, the Aggies were on a 17-0 run and leading 20-15 with 6:23 to play before the break.

As the first half developed into a series of runs, the next go at it belonged to LSU. They scored the next 9 points to take back the lead at the 4:41 mark ahead 24-20.

Not to be outdone by their friends from across the border to the East, The Aggies scored the next 7 points to go back ahead 27-24. I think it was at this point that most everyone watching the game knew we were in for a nervous evening.

Heading into the break, LSU managed to knock down a few free throws to put together another
mini-run of 5-0 before AK tipped in a missed 3 by Acie Law.

At 29-29, the teams headed to the break right back where they started the evening, all tied up.

A few numbers that stood out from the first half:
Fouls FG (%) 3-pointers (%)
A&M 14 A&M - 11-23 (48%) A&M - 4-9 (44%)
LSU 6 LSU 8-25 (32%) LSU 1-6 (17%)

The second half did not feature the Aggies shooting the ball as well as they did in the first half, but it did feature the Tigers continuing to shoot it rather poorly.

The first ten minutes of the final frame featured the teams trading misses and makes with neither team posting anything larger than a 4 point lead.

At the 8:58 mark of the game, the 7th tie of the night came about when the score was all knotted up at 41.

The evening was taking the form of what we have all become accustomed to with this bunch of
Aggies, low scoring, good defense, forcing the tempo, hustle, and determination. (This is also
known as "Billy Ball").

The next 5+ minutes of the game saw LSU claw their way to a 7 point lead ahead 53-46. At the
3:16 mark, Josh Carter missed a 3 that was rebounded and put-back by AK to cut the lead to 53-48.

AK s put -back was the beginning of a 9-0 run over a nearly 3 minute stretch.

With 1:09 to play the Aggies were tied with LSU at 53 before Joe Jones hit a soft floater in the lane to give them a 55-53 edge.

LSU came right back when Glen Davis hit a little jumper of his own to tie it up again at 55 all.

The Aggies got the ball back with about a 7 second difference between the game clock (0:42) and the shot clock (0:35) with a chance to put themselves ahead.

None other than Acie Law showed us again what makes him such a special player and reproved his mettle as a clutch late game go-to guy. Acie knocked down a tough fadeaway jumper from about 17 feet over the outstretched hands of an LSU defender to put the Aggies up 2 at 57-55.

LSU called timeout with 18 seconds left to set up the final play of the game.

You knew it was going to either Davis or Mitchell. Sure enough they set up a screen and roll with
those two guys. Dominique Kirk and Antanas Kavaliauskas switched off in a move that left AK
guarding Mitchell on the perimeter.

AK did everything you would have expected him to do defensively. He got his butt low, he had his feet active, he got wide, and he had his hands in the air. Mitchell took about two dribbles
backwards to create separation and he let a bomb go from about 23 feet that hit nothing but the
bottom of the net.

The Tigers were up 58-57 with 0:03.9 left to play.

The inbounds pass to Josh Carter was mishandled and the clock rolled to 0:00.0.

(I will not get on my soapbox about Acie getting pushed down on the inbounds play.) (See below.)

At the end of the day, the bottom line is that the Aggies did everything they needed to do to win
this game except make one more score, or one more stop.

It was a tough pill to swallow for the Aggie faithful, no doubt.

One tricky thing about college basketball is that unless you win the NCAA tournament or the NIT you end your season on a losing note. It's tough not to be shortsighted and let this put a damper on what was otherwise a magical season. (We'get into this more in the season recap).

Acie Law vs. Gerry McNamara

Remember what a classless jerk Gerry McNamara was after the loss to A&M?
"I feel great. I feel great about it. My last game, we lost, probably because of me. It's fantastic. It's a great feeling." Gerry McNamara when asked about his final game.

Compare that to what Acie Law had to say when asked about what many of us viewed as a blatant foul on the final play of the game:
"I wasn't fouled. It was incidental contact," Law said. "I wouldn't expect the referee to make that call in the NCAA Tournament second round with a chance to go to the Sweet 16. I wouldn't expect him to make that call to bail us out and I wouldn't expect him to make that call if they were in that situation. With the game on the line, let the players make a play to win it. I got tripped up and was unable to make a play to win it."

Class. Grace. Dignity.

Good job kid!

A couple of good articles worth reading:

I hope to have out the season recap sometime by the middle of next week and the look ahead
shortly after that.

Carry on.



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