NIT Season Tip-Off Champions!!
On Friday night your Texas Aggie basketball team absolutely dismantled a pretty good Ohio State team by a final score of 70-47 in route to winning the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Unfortunately, the third biggest story on Friday to come out of Aggieland was what the Aggie basketball team accomplished in NYC. There is no doubt their performance on Friday was overshadowed by the football team’s win over Texas and the news of Coach Fran’s resignation. It is too bad that most casual Aggie sports fans missed seeing their basketball team likely catapult themselves into the top 10.
By winning one of the top 2 or 3 “pre-season” tournaments played each year, the Aggies showed the entire country that they are again going to be a major player on the college basketball landscape during the 2007-2008 season.
On Thursday we talked about how we did not know much about Ohio State. Well Jim Boeheim, the head coach of the #21 ranked Syracuse Orange, thought enough about the Buckeyes to say, “Ohio State is without any question a top-25 team.” Boeheim made that statement after Ohio State beat his Syracuse team 79-65 in the other semi-final game on Wednesday night.
On Friday night, the Aggies came out and played hands down their most complete game of the season on both ends of the floor. They used suffocating man-to-man pressure defense to help slow down Ohio State’s inside-out attack and used great offensive balance to build two different leads over 30 points in the second half.
Coach Turgeon threw his entire suite of big men at Ohio State’s Kosta Koufus and they held him to only 10 points and 5 rebounds, both well below his season averages of 20.5 and 8.
On the perimeter the Aggies put suffocating pressure on the Ohio State guards and held the three starters to a miserable 6-for-28 night shooting the basketball. In fact, all 6 baskets by the Ohio State guards were made by Jamar Butler as both David Lighty and Jon Diebler put up 0-fers.
Ohio State shot the ball about as poorly as you could imagine in the second half when they only made 5 field goals on 29 attempts (17.2%). In fact, Ohio State only made one field goal in the first 11 ½ minutes of the second half, a stretch that saw them go 1-for-17 from the field.
When Ohio State finally hit their 2nd FG of the second half the Aggies turned a 31-25 halftime lead into a commanding 54-30 lead. The Aggies would stretch that lead to 31 points at 66-35 and 32 points at 70-38.
From the 32 point lead at 70-38, Ohio State would score the final 9 points of the game to make the final score 70-47.
Offensively the Aggies showed great balance and patience against the zone defense that Ohio State coach Thad Matta threw at A&M for most of the game. The Aggies saw 4 players score in double digits and 9 guys scored overall.
The two biggest surprises to come out of this game were the breakout performances by two reserve guards, sophomore Derrick Roland and freshman Nathan Walkup.
Both kids posted career highs on Friday night when Roland scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and Walkup added 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Both Roland and Walkup each made 3 three-pointers adding to their strong performances.
Dominique Kirk had a tough night shooting the basketball (1-for-6), but he did keep the offense moving by adding 7 assists and grabbing 7 rebounds.
DeAndre Jordan and Joe Jones again proved why they are going to be one of the toughest frontcourt combinations in the nation as they combined to score 21 points and grab 15 rebounds (Joe - 10 and 7 / DeAndre 11 and 8).
Turgeon again used a primary rotation of 8 guys, except the biggest difference in this game was that Nathan Walkup’s 14 minutes came at the expense of Beau Mulbach who was averaging 9 minutes per game. If this move is going to be more permanent going forward, that is fine by me.
I am sure Beau Mulbach is a heck of a nice guy, but he is a senior and his upside and value to this team is limited and short-lived. On the other hand, Nathan Walkup is a true-freshman, has more upside, and the more valuable minutes he can get right now, the better off he will be as he continues to develop over the next 4 years.
Do not misinterpret that as me saying Beau Mulbach has no value to this team, he certainly has value as a guy who Turge can call on to come off the bench to relieve one of the starters for a few minutes. I just think that if Walkup is going to be a guy you are going to rely on for the next few years you need to be getting him as many minutes as possible.
Joseph Jones was named the tournament MVP as he averaged nearly 14 points and 7 rebounds in the 4 tournament games.
As we said after the Good Guys’ win over Washington on Wednesday, the experiences that this group of guys got while in NYC for this tournament will be invaluable come March. It was as close of an NCAA tournament type experience as you can find. 2 games in 3 days. Big Arena. National TV audience. BCS Conference opponents.
When I mentioned above that we thought the Aggies now deserved to be ranked in the top 10 when the new polls are released on Monday, if you look at the teams ranked ahead of them that lost last week (Louisville, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan State, Marquette, Oregon, and Gonzaga) coupled with what A&M did in the DSGNITSTO, I don’t think there is any reason why they should not move into the top 10.
We will be going to the game against Alabama on Wednesday (8:00 on ESPNU) and after that I think we will be ready to go ahead and issue our annual “player-by-player” review of this year’s squad.
The Aggies are smack-dab into the meat of their non-conference schedule, a stretch that will see them play 4 games in a row against BCS Conference opponents. After disposing of Washington & Ohio State they next play Alabama on Wednesday and then travel to Arizona to take on the Wildcats on Sunday, December 2nd (5:00 on FSN) as part of the inaugural Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge.
Turgeon keeps the program going at Texas A&M
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Texas A&M hasn't missed a beat
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A&M men hammer Ohio State, win NIT Season Tip-Off
No. 15 Texas A&M shuts down Buckeyes' offense in second half