In having a conversation with a couple of you guys today, I found it a great luxury to be able to complain about how the Aggies were not very sharp in a couple of aspects of their game in route to a win in the NCAA tournament.
Have we really progressed to the point where we can harp on negatives after winning a game in the 1st round of the tournament?
That is a good thing, right?
I know this much, when you are a #3 seed in the Big Dance I think that comes with a few certain expectations, first and foremost amongst those is the expectation of a win (usually an uncontested win) in the first round.
It was not a masterpiece, and it certainly was not an awe-inspiring performance, but the Aggies were able to gain control late in the game to pull away for a 68-52 win over Penn.
The Aggies advance to the 2nd round and will take on Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday afternoon at 2:40.
The game got off to an amazingly slow pace as there were only 18 total points scored in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Aggies were able to seize control early on and were able to sustain a double digit lead for most of the balance of the first half.
They actually pushed their lead to 15 points (31-16) right before halftime on a dunk by Bryan Davis.
As the two teams headed to the break, the Aggies were ahead 31-18 and appeared to be in complete control of the game.
Over the course of the first half, it looked as if the good guys were battling a few nerves and showed a little bit of rust, which could have been partially due to the fact that they had only played one game (the loss to OSU) in the last 12 days.
The Aggies had 7 turnovers in the first half, and there were long stretches where they went without making a single basket.
Dominique Kirk hit a three pointer at the 13:59 mark of the opening frame, and the Aggies did not make another basket until Acie hit a three at the 8:09 mark.
I know this much, if they go nearly 6 minutes without a field goal on Saturday afternoon against Louisville, they will find themselves having to rally from behind.
The only other thing that stood out from the first half was how many shots (many of them uncontested) Penn missed.
The Quakers are one of the most accurate shooting teams in the country but were only able to make 8 of their 27 attempts in the first half on Thursday.
Dominique Kirk paced the Aggies in the first half with 10 points and 2 assists.
As the second half opened, the Aggies came out of the locker room flat, and Penn came out swinging as if they were fighting for their lives.
This unpleasant combination led to a surprising 21-6 run for the Quakers that actually saw them take a 2-point lead at 39-37 with 13:06 remaining in the game.
The next two baskets in the game came on massive dunks by Joe Jones where both times he put-back missed lay-ups by Acie Law.
These two plays seemed to spark the Aggies as those baskets started a 31-13 run to close out the game and seal the victory for the Aggies.
Acie also had two highlight reel plays in the second half, one where he took his man off the dribble from the left side with a behind-the-back move where he hit a floater from just inside the free throw line. The second play was on the right wing where he put a nasty hesitation move on his defender and then beat 3 other Penn defenders to the rim for an uncontested lay-up.
Overall, Acie was not very sharp on Thursday as he only hit 6 of the 15 shots he put up, but he did knock down 7 of his 8 free throw attempts. Acie finished the day with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
Dominique Kirk was outstanding for the Aggies, and the junior guard finished the day with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting which included 3-of-5 from downtown. Dominique’s production was absolutely the key to the game for the Aggies, and without his strong effort this game would have been much closer than the final margin of 16 points.
- Joe Jones finished the game with a double-double in scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
- Paging Antanas Kavaliauskas. Antanas Kavaliauskas please report to Rupp Arena immediately. AK struggled again on Thursday only scoring 5 points in 22 minutes. The most alarming thing from AK was his 1-for-5 performance from the free-throw line.
- Marlon Pompey did some great things on the defensive end on Thursday in helping to limit Ibrahim Jaaber to only 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Pompey also struggled mightily from the free-throw line in going 1-for-4 from the line.
- While Pompey and Kavaliauskas combined to go 2-for 9 from the free-throw line, the Aggies continue to struggle from the line as they went 15-of-27 (55.6%) overall. This is a huge problem that can not be fixed soon enough.
- Penn struggled shooting the ball all-day long as they finished the game shooting 36.2% (21-of-58) from the field.
- The Aggies out-rebounded the Quakers 40-27.
- After committing 7 turnovers in the first half, the Aggies only committed one turnover in the 2nd half.
- Josh Carter also struggled on Thursday in only making one of his seven attempts.