Well – That was not nearly as close as most everyone could have expected. That being said, hopefully you guys had as much fun watching the team as the team appeared to be having in beating LSU at Reed on Saturday night.
Heading into conference play, Mark Turgeon’s Aggie bunch absolutely thrashed LSU 79-53 en-route to posting their best start to a season (14-1) since the Aggies went 16-1 to start the 1921-1922 season.
In front of the largest crowd to ever see a regular-season non-conference home game in the history of the school (12,255), the Aggies jumped out to a 9-0 lead over the first four minutes of the game and they never looked back. In-fact, the Aggies quickly pushed their lead to 15 points at the 12:08 mark of the first half when they led 24-9.
Two minutes later, the Aggies were on pace to score 120 points when they put their 29th and 30th points up on the board on a Donald Sloan jumper as the 10 minute mark rolled by. This game was starting to look eerily similar to their fast start when they lost at Arizona earlier in the year. During the loss in Tucson, the Aggies jumped out to a 20 point lead in the first half and eventually got outscored by a margin of 66-35 to close out the game from that point.
Saturday night might have gotten off to a similar start when compared to the Arizona game, but what transpired at Reed Arena was nearly the exact opposite. From jumping out to their quick lead, the Aggies stepped up their defensive pressure and kept LSU’s back against the wall the entire night.
Over the course of the first half, the Aggies used their inside strength against the undermanned Tigers (John Brady only had 8 guys to suit up) and more-or-less bludgeoned them to death inside. In the first frame, the Aggies outscored the Tigers 22-to-12 in the paint as well as outscored them 12-to-0 on second-chance points behind the strength of 6 offensive rebounds.
Turgeon used a heavy dose of DeAndre Jordan, Joseph Jones, Bryan Davis and Junior Elonu inside, and the Tigers simply did not have an answer for the bigger and stronger Aggies. When asked about his big men after the game, Turgeon said, “It's nice because Bryan Davis got into foul trouble, and then Junior gave us good minutes. It is a nice luxury to have. It's not fun for the posts sometimes because they want to play more.”
We have said it before and I will say it again, you are going to be challenged to find too many teams that have as much strength, depth and talent across the frontcourt as the Aggies have this season.
As the two teams came out of the break, the Aggies continued to put unrelenting pressure on the Tigers. Behind the strength of an 18-to-4 run to open the second half, the Aggies pushed their 15 point halftime lead to 29 points as they took command of the scoreboard at 61-32 with 11 minutes left in the game.
Three minutes later (at about the 8 minute mark) and ahead 68-38, Turgeon started cycling out his starters and guys like BJ Holmes, Junior Elonu and Nathan Walkup all got to play what probably turned out to be a heck of a lot more minutes than they would have expected.
Nice problem to have, right?
OK, let’s take a look at some of the guys that stood out from Saturday night.
You have to start off with Donald Sloan. The sophomore from Dallas had what was his best all-around game of his young career when he put up 17 points (on 7-of-9 shooting), grabbed 5 rebounds and added 2 assists. Twice this year Sloan has put up more points in a game (18 points on two different occasions), but never before was he in complete control of the game like he was on Saturday night.
What stood out most about Sloan’s night was that he was flying by guys all night long on fast break opportunities. Turgeon added, “He is great on the break. His eyes light up. Some of those shots, I don't know how he got them to the basket, but he did.”
I also feel like Junior Elonu needs some special recognition for his performance against LSU. The big sophomore put up 8 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in only 14 minutes off the bench. Elonu is so big, strong and athletic that we all keep waiting for him to have a break-out game at some point. Hopefully Saturday night was the start of seeing a little more production out of him.
We also need to mention Josh Carter. #23 seemed to have regained a little bit of his touch from behind-the-arc in knocking down 3 of his 5 attempts from downtown. Carter finished the night with 13 points and 5 rebounds.
Finally, Joe Jones also had a very good night at the cage scoring 12 points (5-of-11 from the field) and pulling down 4 rebounds.
From the LSU side of the court, I told a couple of you guys on Saturday night that I was now ready to declare Tigers’ freshman Anthony Randolph as the best player that I have seen come to Reed so far this season (behind Hendrix-Alabama and Fells-UC-Irvine). Randolph, a skinny-as-a-rail freshman from Dallas led the tigers with 16 points and 7 rebounds on Saturday night. I am not sure if last year’s #5 rated national recruit according to Rivals is a one-and-done kid or not, but I know his stay-over in Baton Rogue is not going to be a very long one.
- The Aggies held the Tigers to 27.8% shooting from the field in the second half (10-for-36) and 20% from behind the arc over the course of the entire game (3-for-15).
- A&M held LSU to only 9 assists on their 23 makes, again, a good indicator of A&M not letting LSU get comfortable in their offensive sets.
- The Aggies out-rebounded the Tigers by a margin of 40-to-31. The Aggies have out-rebounded all 15 opponents this year.
- Free-throw shooting was better again, but still not great. They made 67% of their attempts going 18-of-27 on the night.
- Josh Carter (a junior) needs three more three-pointers this season to move past Antoine Wright into 2nd place on the all-time list at A&M. Carter has knocked down 179 career three pointers.
OK, that’s going to do it for now. The Aggies open up the 2008 Big 12 season on Saturday when they host Colorado at 3:00.
We are going to have our annual Big 12 Preview out at some point this week.
Hope you guys have a great week.