The 2005-2006 Texas Aggie Mens basketball team continued their improbable late season
run on Thursday night by taking down the nations media darling and the hot test team in
the nation , the Syracuse Orange.
Next up for the Aggies? They will face a long-time rival, the LSU Tigers. The game is on Saturday at 4:45 (approx) on CBS with a trip to the sweet 16 on the line.
Old Army came charging out of the gate attacking two key areas that were going to be necessary to stay in the game with Syracuse, stifling defensive pressure and knocking down
a handful of 3-point shots.
The boys in maroon jumped out to a 13-5 lead behind two Chris Walker three pointers. Not only were they big on the scoreboard, they were also big because it meant that Syracuse was going to have to account for Chris for the remainder of the game.
The two quick, yet untypical, Chris Walker threes also prompted Mike Olsen at our watch party to declare, America is so confused right now.
It was highly comical.
Syracuse rallied to take a 17-16 lead before Acie Law and Josh Carter got the good guys headed back in the right direction. They did it again by knocking down a pair of threes to put the Aggies up 5 and they never looked back.
As the first half was coming to a close, Josh Carter hit one of the biggest shots of the night. Acie, using dribble-drive penetration found Josh camped out in the corner, hit him with a perfect pass and Carter buried the Aggies 6th three-point bucket of the half. The bucket also gave them some much-needed additional momentum going into the break.
The basket capped a 17-7 Aggie run that put the halftime margin at 9 points, 33-24.
Throughout the entire first half, Gillispie had his guys using great balance on the offensive end centered around the inside-out game. They were working the high-low post game with Jones, Pompey, and Kavaliauskas. They were also fortunate enough to knock down a handful of big baskets early, allowing them to seize control of the game.
The Aggies were so good at times they may have appeared to be running a clinic on how to
beat the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone
On the other end of the court, the Aggies defensive pressure played a major role from the opening tip. Syracuse, on the offensive end, appeared out of sync and confused on multiple occasions. The Orange were 7 of 20 overall from the field and 1 of 8 from deep in the first half.
Coming out of the break, both teams appeared to be settled in and played some decent basketball for the first ten minutes. The teams were rather evenly matched and continued to trade buckets for multiple possessions.
At the ten-minute mark of the game, the Aggies still maintained an 8 point lead at 45-37.
Over the next two minutes, The Orange put together a mini-run of 6-0 to cut the Aggie lead to 4 points at the 8:15 mark. Needless to say, this is when Aggie fans watching nationwide began to feel a little stressed.
ENTER ACIE LAW
To say that Acie was clutch down the stretch would be a massive understatement. He scored 16 of his team high 23 points in the final 8 minutes. These points also accounted for 16 of the Aggies final 21 points.
Furthermore, he was a key player in one of Gillispie s best coaching moves of the night . Jim Boeheim moved his guys into a full-court trapping press that rattled the Aggies and allowed Syracuse to cut the lead to 4 for a second time at 49-45 with 5:59 to play.
During the under 4:00 media timeout, Gillispie made a switch as to who would receive the inbounds pass, and it was no longer Acie Law. He set it up where Josh Carter, Joe Jones, or Dominique Kirk would catch the inbounds pass.
The player receiving the ball inbounds would then make a pass out of the Syracuse trap and at the same time Acie would break toward the A&M basket. The person receiving the pass out of the trap would immediately hit Acie as he was on his way to the hoop slipping behind the Syracuse press.
The move worked on three consecutive possessions and netted Acie two breakaway layups
and two free throws as he was fouled on his way to the hoop.
When you hear people say that Gillispie out-coached Boeheim last night, there is a perfect
example of what they are referring to.
Some Quick Hits
- The Aggies hit 19 of 22 free throws on the night in a game where every one of them
mattered. This also included making 11 of 12 down the stretch.
- Chris Walker played a great all-around game notching 9 points (all 3 s) and 6 rebounds.
The best stat for Walker is that 4 of his 6 rebounds came on the offensive end.
- Joe Jones had an off night shooting the ball in going 3 for 13. The big guy was getting
some good looks, they just were not dropping for him.
- Syracuse as a team finished 4 of 19 from behind the arc - their two starting guards
finished the evening 5 of 19 overall, which included 1 of 11 from deep.
- Gillispie used his 7 usual suspects and they were the only guys that played. Joe led the
way playing all 40 minutes.
Gerry McNamara Fan Club
- This was the only time in Gerry McNamara s career he was held without a field goal.
After having the worst game of his career, statistically speaking anyhow, he had this to say
when asked to analyze his performance:
"I feel great . I feel great about it . My last game, we lost , probably because of me. It s
fantastic. Its a great feeling."
Needless to say, he was being curt and sarcastic with the guys in the media room.
I guess he must have still been frustrated from the pressure Dominique Kirk put on him all
John Lopez of the Houston Chronicle also had this great line in his column this morning.
could you really recognize either Kirk or Walker at the mall?
"Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara surely would. They'd be the ones inside his shirt. They'd be the inexplicable itch on the back of his neck. They'd be the ones walking uncomfortably close and dancing inside his head."
You can read his full column here:
If you want to hear how gracious Jim Boeheim and Gerry McNamara were after the game,
you can listen to the audio of their press conference here:
I am hopeful to have an LSU preview out tonight. Stay tuned.