OSU Recap - 2
Well, I think it would be fair to say that the outcome of last night’s game was certainly not what any of us expected.
Sure, we all probably thought the Aggies had a reasonable chance of winning, but nobody would have thought that the good guys would go into storied Gallagher-Iba Arena and hand the Cowboys their worst home loss in the history of the Big 12.
The 66-46 win pulled the Aggies back into a tie with Kansas for first place in the Big 12 with only 3 games remaining in the regular season.
The game had a streaky feel to it as both teams came out of the box shooting the ball about as poorly as you could have imagined. The Aggies opened up the game only making 2 of their first 11 attempts, while the Cowboys came out and only managed to knock down 2 of their first 14 shots.
The combined 16% shooting over the first 8 minutes was not just attributable to poor shooting; I think some great energy by both teams on the defensive end also had quite a bit to do with it.
When the clock rolled past 12:00 in the first half, the score was a rather lackluster 7-4 in favor of the Aggies.
On the Aggies’ next possession, Acie Law pushed the ball the length of the floor and found his way to the rim untouched for a layup that kick-started a great offensive stretch for the Aggies.
Beginning with Acie’s lay-up, the Aggies went on a tear where they made 10 of their next 12 shots and pushed a 3 point lead to 13 points when they led 28-15 at the 4:02 mark.
Behind the strength of Donald Sloan (more on him in a moment) and Bryan Davis off the bench, the Aggies were actually able to extend their lead all the way to 17 points (36-19) before JamesOn Curry hit a long three pointer at the buzzer to make the halftime score 36-22.
The Aggies scored 22 of their 36 first half points in the paint, and while you might immediately think “in the paint” means that Joe and AK were tearing it up, that was not at all the case.
Only 3 of the Aggies’ 11 baskets in the paint were scored by their post players (Davis, Pompey & Jones with one each).
The other 8 baskets were all scored by A&M guards who continuously made their way to the rim against the lackluster defensive performance from the OSU guards on the perimeter. Whether Sloan or Law had the ball it did not matter, both guys were able to convert lay-up after lay-up.
The Aggies actually rallied after their 2-for-11 start to make 13 of their next 19 shots (68%) and finish the half 15-for-30 (50%).
Staying with the streaky theme, both teams came out and started the second half about as poorly as they started the first. OSU only scored 7 points in the first 8+ minutes of the second frame while the Aggies only scored 8.
This included a stretch where the Aggies went nearly 5 minutes without scoring a single point.
Fortunately they were able to finally settle in again and actually managed to push the lead to 23 points on three different occasions in the second half.
The Aggies’ plan-of-attack in the second half was not far different from that of the first as they scored 20 of their 30 second half points “in the paint”. This time the guards only managed to make 6 of those while the “big nasties” inside scored the other 4 buckets.
When asked about getting to the rim so frequently, Donald Sloan said, “I thought, 'Why not do it the rest of the time and see how they are going to react to it,' they kept reacting the same, and we just kept doing it."
The short story for OSU was simply that they could not buy a bucket last night.
The Cowboys finished the game a dismal 16-for-53 (30%) and if not for Curry’s halftime heave and two garbage time three-pointers (one each by Adarius Bowman and Tyler Hatch) the Cowboys would have only made 13 field goals and shot 26%.
Gillispie was quick to not take anything away from OSU in saying, "They are a good team, they just missed a bunch of shots tonight."
Personally I think an old quote from NAIA coaching legend Bob Chipman sums up the Cowboys best when he said, “They're doing some good things at times. But it's not the knock-down, drag-out stuff that they've had in the past that you need to do to get ready to win games in this league."
The Cowboys are now 5-7 in the league, and unless they can pull something together very quickly, they are most likely going to be on the outside looking in when Selection Sunday rolls around.
OK – About Donald Sloan.
Sloan was simply outstanding on Wednesday night. The true-freshman had a season-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting while adding 4 rebounds.
This morning people are singing his praises and talking about his “coming out party”. We have seen flashes of Sloan’s ability over the last couple of weeks, and he has certainly proven himself to be the most productive guy off the bench for the Aggies.
Personally, I would temper the excitement a little bit by adding that OSU’s inability to guard the perimeter had quite a bit to do with Sloan’s success last night.
Yes, Sloan is a very talented freshman.
No, last night’s game should not be an indicator of what to expect from this point forward on a nightly basis from Sloan.
Sloan still has a long way to go on the defensive end of the floor, but at a minimum the Aggies now have a guy that can come off the bench and certainly provide a spark when one is needed.
Sloan is undoubtedly going to be a key guy for the Aggies over the next 3 or 4 weeks.
Alright – There you have it.
Wednesday night was a great win for the Aggies, and they have now won 7 of their last 8 games away from Reed Arena.
- Acie Law was, well, Acie Law on Wednesday night. The senior guard had 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
- Kavaliauskas did not blow the box score away last night with his 7 points, but his 13 rebounds sure did stand out. AK also did a great job on Mario Boggan in limiting the Big 12 player-of-the-year candidate to a season-low 7 points on 3-of-13 shooting.
- Dominique Kirk left the game midway through the first half with a back injury. The sideline reporter for ESPN2 said it was a “back bruise” and that the injury was not serious. Kirk has started all 88 games in his career and unless he can’t walk, I would look for him to be in the starting lineup against Baylor on Saturday.
- Joe Jones was saddled by foul trouble again and scored 8 points and pulled down 8 boards in only 24 minutes of action.
- Everyone’s favorite guy Marlon Pompey was 1-for-1 from the free-throw line last night. Unfortunately Marlon’s make was banked in OFF THE GLASS. I wonder if he called it.
- Josh Carter (10 points) really struggled shooting the ball again last night in going 3-for-11. Josh is shooting a combined 5-of-19 (26%) in his last three games.
- When do we become worried that the Aggies may have a free-throw problem? 10-for-18 (55%), which included 7-for-14 in the second half, is not going to get it done as we get into March. This has to get better and get better very soon.
- JamesOn Curry did not have very much fun last night either in also going 3-for-11 while scoring a season low 8 points.
- The 11 league wins for the Aggies in the Big 12 are a new school record.
- The 23 wins overall are also a new school record.
- In not quite three full seasons, Gillispie has won 29 Big 12 games. In the first 8 years of Big 12 play the previous coaches won a combined 25 games.
The mighty Baylor Bears come calling on Reed Arena on Saturday afternoon (12:30 ESPN+ Regional Coverage).
Baylor is, of course, Baylor…… but they have been playing better as of late and anytime these two get together you usually are going to get a game that is a little bit closer than any of us ever like to see.
Baylor is coming in off of a 63-59 win over Nebraska in Waco last night, and the Bears have only one win in their last five games.
The three most recent losses for Baylor have only come by a combined 12 points, which included only a one point loss to UT in Waco.
It would be a major upset if the Bears were able to knock off A&M at home.