Well, I’m not sure which was more surprising on Saturday afternoon. The thousands of empty seats on either end of famed Gallagher-Iba Arena, or the unusually quiet hush that remained in the building after the clock rolled to 00:00.
I do not know how many of you guys have had the opportunity to attend a game in person in Stillwater, but GIA can be one of the most hostile environments in all of college basketball.
That building is almost always packed with 12,000+ of the noisiest, rowdiest and most unrelenting crowds you will ever find. Cowboy fans are typically filing out after another win as Toby Keith’s “Should have been a Cowboy” blazes over the loud speakers.
The scene on Saturday afternoon was quite different as the Aggies won back-to-back games in Stillwater since 1923-1924.
The game itself was quite odd as neither team played well at all, but the action was actually pretty exciting as the game featured 5 ties and 10 lead changes.
The Aggies came out showing more than enough wear from Wednesday night’s quintuple overtime loss to Baylor as they turned the ball over on 8 of their first 13 possessions. They also could not get the ball into the basket as they did not put their 10th point on the board until the 9 minute mark of the first half.
While the Aggies struggled early, the Cowboys had a disastrous end to the game that gave the win a little bit of a gifted feel to it. OSU failed to score a point in the final 2:49 of the game and did not have a field goal over the final 9:34.
The crazy thing about the end of the game is that it was not as if A&M was playing suffocating defense. The Cowboys just simply could not throw it in the ocean to save their lives. They were missing wide open looks.
Here is where I am coming from as we sit here today.
I do not think any of us are in a position to complain about wins, no matter how you get them, and for darn sure not with the way this group has been playing as of late. Nobody can appreciate it more than Coach Turgeon who after the game said, “We kind of snuck in the backdoor on this one, but you'll take it any way you can get it. I'm really proud of the guys. We needed that. We needed it badly.”
When Donald Sloan stole the final inbounds pass for the Cowboys, the Aggies celebrated after the end of the game as if they just had the weight of the world lifted off their shoulders, and after their recent three game skid, who can blame them?
The boxscore had a very odd look to it after the win. Here are a few things that stood out:
- The Aggies only shot the ball 43 times (a season low), but made a decent percentage of them (22 makes for 51.2%).
- Of the Aggies 22 makes, they only were credited with assists on 9 of them against 16 turnovers. The 9 assists were not a season low, but they have been averaging 14.8 per game.
- The Aggies outrebounded the Cowboys 32-23, but both teams had 9 offensive rebounds.
- A&M was better at the free-throw line as they made 76.9% of their attempts on Saturday (10-of-13).
Speaking of free-throws, there was another big scare for the Aggies when Donald Sloan missed (again) the front end of a 1-and-1 with 15 seconds remaining with the Aggies ahead by one. Sloan’s miss put OSU in a great position to get a look to take a late lead.
That being said, even bigger than Sloan’s miss was Dominique Kirk and Bryan Davis each hitting two free-throws within the last minute of the game to help seal the win for the Aggies. It was great to see these guys step up and make some for a change.
Josh Carter led the Aggies with 13 points on Saturday afternoon, but #23 really struggled from behind-the-arc again, only making 1 of his 5 attempts. Carter is now 9-of-31 (29%) in conference play from behind the three-point line. Over the last two games Carter is 2-for-14 (14%), but we all know that Josh is way too good of a shooter to continue on this kind of slide. It will certainly be a welcome change when he gets it going again.
Joe Jones had another very workman like effort in scoring 11 points and 8 rebounds.
The Aggies return to the friendly confines on Wednesday night (8:00 ESPN2) when they host Texas.
Texas has one of the best 1-2 backcourt combinations in the entire nation in DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams, and these two outstanding guards rank 2 and 3 in the Big 12 in scoring. Augustin is also the best thief in the league as he leads all players with nearly 6 steals per game.
Needless to say it is going to be a VERY tall task, but if the good guys can find a way to beat Texas they can put themselves right back on track.
The win at Stillwater, even if gifted, was a big win and should give the Aggies a little boost of much needed confidence. After opening league play with 3 of their first 5 games on the road, they have back-to-back games at home. The next stretch of 5 and 8 games is going to decide the fate of this year’s team as they have 3 of next 5 and 5 of next 8 all at Reed Arena.
The boys in Maroon and White are currently 2-3 in Big 12 play, and if they can dig down and find a way to win 6 of those next 8 games (a tall order indeed) they will be in the thick of the race for a respectable NCAA spot sitting at 8-5 and heading into the home stretch.
OK – Enough looking ahead, let’s just hope they come out and keep the 13,000+ at Reed Arena interested in the game on Wednesday night. When Reed is packed and rockin’ it is a heck of an environment!