Thursday, January 25, 2007

Texas Tech Recap

Game Recap

Well – These are always the toughest ones to type up.

Nobody likes losing, but at least in college basketball it is very different from most other sports. A loss here and a loss there actually can do a little bit of good. At a minimum it gives you that much more to work on and gives you an opportunity to regroup and refocus. It makes for a great opportunity for a good old fashioned reality check.

I am not trying to pump sunshine; it is just the reality of the situation.

Last night the Aggies found out the hard way that going into Lubbock is indeed still a very difficult task. The Red Raiders knocked off their 2nd consecutive top 10 opponent at home by defeating the good guys 70-68. Four days earlier, Tech defeated then #5 Kansas 69-64.

From the opening tip, the Raiders came out on a furious pace in knocking down 7 of their first 9 shots in jumping out to a 17-9 lead through the first 6 minutes of the game. In fact, if it were not for Dominique Kirk, this game could have been over before it even started. DK came out and hit two huge threes early on that allowed the Aggies to hang around.

Gillispie also took notice in saying, "If he (Dominique) hadn't played like he did, we would have had no chance because they were really giving it to us in the first half, and he basically kept us in the game by himself."

More on Dominique in a moment.

The Aggies were able to claw their way back over the later part of the first half supported by a late 17-8 run to close out the first 20 minutes.

The reason the Aggies were able to hang around in the first half was due in large part to the support from their bench. A&M’s bench outscored the Tech bech 13-3 in the first half led by the always energetic Marlon Pompey who added 6 huge & very necessary points.

Way to go Marlon.

The second half saw the Aggies lead for most of the way, but never by more than 5 points (56-51 at the 11:30 mark). The thing that stood out to me more than anything about the 2nd half was the play of senior point guard Acie Law.

Acie made play-after-play-after-play in the second half trying to pull out a win for the good guys. Acie finished with 26 points on 9-of-15 (60%) shooting. The biggest shot from Acie came at the 2:22 mark when he hit a cool-as-ice three to put the Aggies up 66-63.

It was at that point that I thought to myself, “I’ll be darned; he may actually be able to win this game for the Aggies.” But that was all for naught as the Aggies only scored 2 points after Acie’s big shot.

The Aggies had a chance to win the game as Kavaliauskas grabbed a defensive rebound when Martin Zeno missed the second of two free throws that left Tech ahead 68-67 with 0:22 left.

As the Aggies came down the floor, Acie appeared to be setting up the offense when Gillispie called timeout from the bench. It is always easy to second guess decisions when they do not work out, but conventional wisdom is that you should not call a timeout in that situation and continue in the flow of the game.
By calling a timeout, yes, you get to set up your play, but just as importantly if not more importantly, you give the defense a chance to set up as well. I have always preferred to see coaches let the flow of the game continue and create a situation where you run a called play from the sideline and force the defense to react.

They pay Gillispie a ton of money to make those decisions, and I am just a hack sitting behind my computer, but it is these kind of situations and scenarios that make watching and debating sports so much fun.

The play they ran called for Joe to seal his man from the backside in the lane and have Dominique Kirk lob the ball to him.

The play was the right call and Joe had his man in perfect position, but unfortunately DK threw a horrible pass that came up way short and was easily intercepted by Martin Zeno. I guarantee you that nobody felt worse about the outcome of the play than Dominique did. Gillispie said that if Joe was not wide open (which he was) that DK was supposed to call a 2nd timeout to set up an alternative play.

"If Joe was not open, we were going to call timeout," Gillispie said "The old antagonist muscles took over, and Dominique threw it a little short. Joe was open."

As I told Jerry last night – “Perfect play, terrible execution.”

(More sunshine pump)

While no loss is a good loss, I will say this - there are a lot worse games this group cold have lost or may lose this season. Getting beat by a very solid Tech team on the road is not going to make or break this group of guys.

The other thing that is fun about league play (particularly when it involves teams in the Big 12 south) is that you always get your shot when they come to your place. I guarantee you that one of the first things the guys did when they got back last night was to circle February 13th on their calendars – the payback game with Tech.

I also think that 13-3 will at a minimum win a share of the conference title. If the Aggies protect home court, that means they can go 3-2 in their final 5 road games to reach that 13-3 mark. Their final 5 road games are at Kansas, at Nebraska, at Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, and at Texas. Make no mistake about it; going 3-2 in those games will certainly be a tough task.

Quick Hits

- After being very good from the free throw line most of the season, the Aggies were just a tad bit better than terrible last night in only converting 13 of their 21 attempts (including 5 misses in the last 8:30 of the game of which one was the front end of a one-and-one).

- Tech only made 7 field goals in the 2nd half - - of those seven makes, five were three pointers.

- The Aggies dominated Tech in the paint outscoring them 34-8

- I thought Bryan Davis and Martellus Bennett made the most of their combined 5 minutes. It is still strange to me that these guys do not play more.

- Jon Plefka, an oft-used forward from the Red Raiders who came into the game averaging 4.6 points per game single handedly killed the Aggies with 17 points last night on 6-of-8 shooting.

- Did you guys all enjoy the ORileyAutoPartsNewAT&TPlainsNationalBank-
PattersonUTIDrillingSargentsPetProducts television broadcast last night? I think Bryan Brown summed it up best when he said - - “I feel like I am watching this game underwater.” Oh well, it sure beat listening on the radio.

- Josh Carter, where are you? Do you not know that this team has to have you produce on a nightly basis in order to compete? Josh was 0-for-4 for zero points last night.

- Antanas Kavaliauskas, where are you? Do you not know that this team has to have your production on a nightly basis as well? AK only put up 5 shots last night making two for 4 points.

- The Aggies have been selected to appear on two episodes of the ABC program “Free Ticket – Inside College Basketball”.
Further information including dates and times can be found here:

I watched the program last weekend when K-State was featured (including their trip to College Station) and it was a pretty good program – be sure to set your DVR.

- It’s not A&M related, but it is Big 12 related; can someone explain to me why Kansas was only a 9 point favorite at Baylor last night? Kansas won by 26. I hope all of you that enjoy making a friendly wager on a game every now and again took advantage of that last night.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies host the Oklahoma Sooners at Reed Arnea on Saturday at 1:00. The game will be broadcast on ESPN (non-HD).

Oklahoma is a team that is not great but just good enough that you have to keep an eye on them. They can easily sneak up on you, and if you are not careful they can certainly beat you on any given night.

They are lead by Longar Longar who is averaging 11.3 points and 7.1 boards per game. I would expect Joe and AK to present quite a challenge for Longar on the inside.

The two major role players for the Sooners are Michael Neal and Nate Carter. Neal, a 6’3” senior, has been playing much better as of late and has scored in double digits in his last 4 games. The 6’6” Carter is coming off his best game of the season against Oklahoma State where he scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

I would look for a big bounce back game from the Aggies on Saturday. The game is sold out and the 4,200 student tickets sold out in only 70 minutes.

After hosting OU on Saturday, the Aggies host Iowa State on Wednesday the 31st before starting a 6 game February stretch, including 4 of 6 on the road, that will define the 2006-2007 season.

That 6 game stretch is as follows:

Feb. 3 at Kansas
Feb. 5 vs. Texas
Feb. 10 at Nebraska
Feb. 13 vs. Texas Tech
Feb. 17 at Oklahoma
Feb. 21 at Oklahoma State

That is a tough 18 day stretch - - no doubt about it.

These next two games at home are a great chance for the Aggies to regoup and find a way to get AK and Josh Carter back on the right side of things.


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