Oklahoma Recap - 2
Well, I told a couple of you guys that I was going to simply send the same recap we wrote after the last time the Aggies and Sooners hooked up.
The reason was that Saturday’s game in Norman was eerily reminiscent of the game the two teams played back on January 27th, a game in which the Aggies came from behind after trailing at the half to win 70-61.Flash back to that Saturday in January.
- The Aggies had just lost a heartbreaking game to Texas Tech by two points.
- Up next on the schedule was long-time nemesis, the Oklahoma Sooners.
- In that game, OU jumped out to a small halftime lead in what was an ugly first half.
- The Aggies found renewed energy at halftime and came out and pulled away for the victory.
- The Aggies were led in the second half behind strong play from senior guard Acie Law.
Alright - - Now look at these quotes from the last OU recap - - it is pretty funny looking back on it.
- “The Aggies and Sooners battled in the ‘tale of two halves’ on Saturday afternoon with the Aggies prevailing in the end.”
- “The first half of the game was, in a nutshell, horrible. Neither team could find a rhythm nor get any momentum established on either end of the floor.”
- “In fact, A&M came out so sluggish at the beginning……”
- “…… we all welcomed the halftime break hoping that the 2nd half would provide more highlights than the first.”
- “You could immediately tell that Gillispie got to his guys at the half – they came out and looked like an entirely different group – the difference in their energy level was night-and-day.”
- “Personally, I’m just glad the good guys were able to shake the funk from the Tech game and a lethargic first half to play MUCH better in the second frame.”
Flash back to Saturday.
You could easily have made the exact same statements this time around, the games were that similar.This time around, when it was all said and done, the Aggies were able to come out of Norman with their first ever victory at the Lloyd Noble Center. The low scoring affair saw the Aggies win 56-49.
The Aggies might have looked as bad in the first half as they have all season long. They only managed to make 8 of their 22 field goal attempts for 36%. This included a horrendous 1 for 6 from behind the arc (17%) and 5 turnovers.
The 19 first-half points was easily a season low for Gillispie’s group. Fortunately, the Sooners were not able to do more damage on the offensive end.
In the first frame, OU managed to knock down 11 baskets (3 from downtown) and had a whopping 26 points at the break.
Joseph Jones had 9 of the Aggies’ 19 points in the first half, and Acie Law only had 4.
The second half began with starters Josh Carter and Dominique Kirk on the bench in favor of Marlon Pompey and Donald Sloan. Furthermore, 22 seconds into the second frame Kavaliauskas also found himself on the bench, he in favor of Bryan Davis.
It was very clear that if you were not going to play with the energy that Gillispie and his staff were going to demand then you were not going to see the floor after halftime.
In fact, defensive stalwart Dominique Kirk did not see the floor for the first 12 minutes of the second half. I thought that when he did come back he had great energy and really made a difference.
The Aggies’ biggest deficit of the day came with 3:20 left in the first frame when the Sooners had a 10 point lead at 26-16.
From that point through the first 5 minutes of the second half, the reenergized Aggies went on a 17-4 run to take a three point lead at 33-30.
The run in the first 5 minutes of the second frame was sparked by a dominating Joe Jones who scored 7 of the Aggies’ first 8 points out of the break.
When asked about the locker room at halftime, Acie said, “We knew we weren’t taking care of business. Coach got on us, but he didn’t really have to because we knew we weren’t really playing ‘Texas A&M’ basketball. We knew we were capable of playing much better.”
Gillispie leaned into the microphone after Acie’s statement and asked, “Did I raise my voice Acie?” The very wise Acie Law simply said, “Nope.”
The Sooners did, however, weather the storm and battled back to take a one point lead 38-37 with 9:48 left in the game.
After falling behind by 1, and before Nate Carter hit a three pointer with 7 seconds left, the Aggies then went on a 19-8 run fueled by none other than late-game-hero Acie Law.
In the final 15 minutes of the game, the Aggies scored 25 points and Acie himself had 16 of those. It was just another example of how Acie is not going to let other teams beat the Aggies on his account.
Joe finished the afternoon with 21 points and 9 rebounds, and Acie put up a VERY impressive 21 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.
Gillispie was also impressed in saying, “I think Acie's pretty good. It's obvious we want to get it to him as much as possible.”
I agree coach; he is “pretty good”.
Simply put, Acie and Joe were humongous on Saturday afternoon as they combined to score 42 of the Aggies’ 56 points. Aside from accounting for 75% of the team’s scoring production, the duo also combined to shoot 56% from the floor on 15-of-27 shooting.
The only negative thing you can say about Acie’s night was that he was 7-of-11 from the free throw line, which included missing the front end of two one-and-one opportunities. On free throws alone, Acie left 6 potential points on the floor, and fortunately it did not matter when things were all said and done.
- Antanas Kavaliauskas continued to struggle a little bit. The senior big man only scored 5 points in 26 minutes of action; he did however manage to pull down 8 rebounds.
- Josh Carter again struggled to find opportunities to shoot the basketball. Carter hit his first shot from the floor (a three pointer) and then missed his next 4 shots. Josh finished with 3 points.
- I know Fran Fraschilla made a huge deal out of it on the TV broadcast, but the Aggies showed some different defensive looks in the second half on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies’ primary alternate set was a triangle-in-two which is a look that has two guys matched up man-on-man on the perimeter and the other three guys playing a “triangle zone” in the middle of the floor. The switch really confused the Sooners and allowed the Aggies to get back into the game.
- I thought the officiating was much better again on Saturday. The Aggies were called for 13 fouls and only put OU on the free throw line 9 times.
- OU guard David Godbold had a career day against the Aggies in scoring 20 points behind the strength of 5-of-7 from the three point line.
- Marlon Pompey did a pretty good job defensively on Saturday, but as is usually the case with Pompey he was terrible on the offensive end in missing three wide open looks.
- Freshman Donald Sloan continues to gain confidence game-over-game as the season wears on. Sloan did not light up the box score on Saturday, but the energy he brings to the floor is always well received. Sloan was again on the receiving end of a great ally-oop feed, this time from Acie Law.
- The defensive intensity A&M showed in the 2nd half was never more evident than when you look at the box score and see that the Sooners were 7-for-30 from the floor in the second half for 23%.
OK – Well, we have been talking about this big 6-game stretch as one that would define the Aggies’ season and through the first 5 games of that stretch you are now 4-1. (How in the heck did they lose to Tech at home? No really, I’m over it, I promise.)
You wrap up this oft-mentioned stretch in Stillwater on Wednesday night in a nationally televised game against Oklahoma State on ESPN2-HD at 8:00.
OSU has really been struggling as of late and has lost 4 of their last 5 games including an 11 point loss to Missouri in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon. (I am sure the Tigers’ win made Melvin Watkins happy).
That being said, the Cowboys still have two of the best players in the league on their roster in Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry. Either or both of those guys are good enough to put the Pokes in a position where they can beat anyone on any given night, especially at home.
OSU has gone from one of the hottest teams in the country to finding themselves squarely on the tournament bubble. A win over the Aggies will certainly boost their resume and in all likelihood put them back on the “in” side of that debate.
With their backs against the wall, do not for one second think that you are not going to get the Cowboys’ best effort on Wednesday night.
Going into Gallagher-Iba arena is one of the toughest tasks in all of college basketball, and the Aggies will certainly have their hands full on Wednesday night.