Friday, February 08, 2008

OU & ISU Recap / Mizzou Preview

Hey guys – sorry it has taken me so long to put this note together. Better late than never I guess.

Today we’ll take a look back at Saturday’s slug-fest between the Aggies and the Oklahoma Sooners, as well as take a quick look back at their first convincing road win of the season in Ames against Iowa State on Tuesday night.

We’ll also take a quick look at Saturday’s game at Missouri.

Oklahoma Recap

On Saturday afternoon at Reed Arena, the Aggies and Sooners hooked up in what can only be described as a brutal, ugly battle that lasted nearly 40 minutes. The two teams both looked pretty out of sync, and there were plenty of errors and missed shots to go around.

The game quickly took on a “first one to 50 wins” feel to it as neither team could get going in the first half.

Over the first 8 minutes of the game the Aggies had a stuck-in-the-sand 11-to-8 lead. The scoreboard would stay stuck on 11-8 over the next three minutes as neither team could find a way to put any points on the board. Six missed baskets and two turnovers later the Sooners finally broke the drought when Longar Longar put the biscuit in the basket to pull the Sooners back to within one.

By the time the first half came to an end, the Sooners were heading to the break ahead by six at 23-29. The only reason the Aggies were not down by more than six was that they happened to make 7 of their 10 free throw attempts in the first half. They also had their worst shooting half of the season when they only made 7 of their 26 attempts (26.9%).

The Aggies appeared to be suffering from a bit of a UT hangover in the first half as they lacked any real passion or fire and sort of seemed to be sleepwalking through the first frame.

Coming out of the break Turgeon clearly got their attention as the Aggies went on a quick 14-to-4 run to seize control of the game and turned the 6 point halftime deficit into a 4 point lead at 37-33.

Everyone watching the game knew that Oklahoma was not going away quietly and that the game was far from over. Sure enough, OU came back with a little run of their own and actually held a small lead for nearly a 10 minute stretch in the middle of the second half.

Late in the game, OU’s interior guys began to get into foul trouble with Taylor Griffin and Longar Longar both fouling out, and the Aggies were finally able to put the Sooners away.

Over the final 3:23 of the game the Aggies actually went on a closing 10-to-1 run to put the final score at 60-52. The late run was sparked by the brute force of Bryan Davis and a couple of great hustle plays from Donald Sloan.

Bryan Davis was simply outstanding down the stretch, and the big guy made a handful of hard-nosed plays that helped seal the deal for the Aggies. The biggest highlight play for Davis came when the Aggies were nursing a precarious 3 point lead with 21 seconds left to play. As the shot-clock ticked below 2 seconds, big #0 grabbed a loose ball on the baseline, put the ball up, made a layup, drew a foul and made his free throw.

The play basically sealed the deal for the Aggies and sent the 13,158 fans home happy.

I can not express to you guys enough how good Bryan Davis played down the stretch. He was involved in a handful of critical loose ball and hustle plays, all of which he seemed to win.

Joe Jones led the Aggies with 18 points and 6 rebounds behind the strength of 7-for-10 shooting from the free throw line. Bryan Davis finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds while Sloan added 10. Rounding out the highlights for the Aggies was Dominique Kirk who had 9 points, 4 assists and 0 turnovers.

Other interesting notes from the OU game:

- A&M has beaten Oklahoma three straight times after OU won the previous 14 meetings.
- A&M had a season-high 9 steals.
- The Aggies had only one turnover versus 6 assists in the second half.
- A&M made 23-of-30 (76.7%) from the free throw line, the best percentage of the season when the team had at least 15 attempts.

Iowa State Recap

OK – Let’s now take a quick look back at the Iowa State game from Tuesday night.

The Aggies traveled to the freezing cold plains of the midwest and came away with their most resounding road win of the season when they dismantled Iowa State by a final score of 69-51.

Outside of some early drama, the game itself was not terribly entertaining, but it was nice to just have a “cruise control” game on the road, that is for sure.

A&M jumped out to two different early 7 point leads before Iowa State made a nice rally, and behind the strength of a 10-0 run, the Cyclones actually took a 3 point lead at 22-19 with just under 5 minutes to play in the first half.

It was from that point that the Aggies absolutely took control of the game.

The Aggies closed the game on an 11-2 run capped by a DeAndre Jordan dunk that sent the Aggies to the locker room with a 30-24 lead and a good dose of some much needed momentum on the road.

As the Aggies came out of the break, the momentum carried over to the second half as they were absolutely blazing hot. The good guys hit 11 of their first 14 shots in the second half and capped off a 31-9 run to put the game out of reach at 50-31 with just under 13 minutes to go.

The 31-9 run included the 11-2 run that the Aggies used to close out the first half.

The two guys that were key to the big run for the Aggies were Bryan Davis and Josh Carter. Over the first 8 minutes of the 2nd half, Davis had 10 points while Carter knocked down a pair of big 3 pointers.

For the 2nd game in a row, I can not stress to you guys enough how important Bryan Davis has become for this basketball team.

Davis led the Aggies on Tuesday night in points (16), rebounds (7), blocks (2) and steals (3).

Oh yeah, his 16 points also came on 8-of-11 shooting (72.7%).

Since being inserted into the starting lineup after the Tech debacle, Bryan Davis has absolutely been the reason the Aggies are playing so much better on their current 4 game winning streak.

Over his last 5 games Davis is averaging 14.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting an absurd 70.7% from the floor in making 29 of his last 41 attempts.

Not bad for a guy that most people outside of those that follow A&M could not pick out of a crowd of one. If Davis has another big game on Saturday at Missouri, I would not be surprised to see him as a candidate for the Big 12 player of the week award.

I also think we should point out two things that Coach Turgeon has done to really help get this team back on the right track. (If I am going to be critical when it’s bad I should be positive when it’s good.)

1.) Bringing Bryan Davis into the fold. I do not think anyone thought the big forward from Grand Prairie would be putting forth the production he has been showing on a nightly basis since being inserted into the starting lineup for DeAndre Jordan .
2.) Reducing the complexity of the offense. Turgeon has stripped the offense back to basics using an effective dose of high pick-and-roll ball screens, baseline off-ball screens and re-establishing the high-low game with his big men on the inside.

Since the three game slide against Tech, K-State and Baylor, the Aggies and Turgeon seem to be getting better and better with each game. I think part of what we have seen so far this season is a bit of a roller coaster ride with a new coach growing into the roster he inherited and a group of guys growing into a new coach and a new system. I am cautiously optimistic that the team and the coaches are finally getting on the same page, and I am hopeful that we will see a nice finishing kick over these last 8 games.

Missouri Preview

The Aggies will try to keep the ball rolling against Missouri on Saturday afternoon in Columbia . The game tips off at 12:45 and will be carried on ESPN+. A complete list of stations carrying the game can be found here:

Missouri is a bit of a tough team to figure out.

They have Big 12 wins over conference powers Texas and Kansas State, but they also have losses to Iowa State and Nebraska .

Their roster has also been decimated by a rash of suspensions that came about after a big group of players got into a nasty fight at a night club.

The fight put team leader Stefhon Hannah in intensive care with a broken jaw and needless to say, he is likely done for the season. Starting point guard Jason Horton was also suspended, and he was formally arrested last Friday on the 1st of February.

Leo Lyons, Marshall Brown and Darryl Butterfield were also suspended. All have since returned to action, but it was not enough as Missouri still lost 71-90 to Kansas on Monday night.

As Mike Anderson’s team heads into the game vs. A&M he will have nearly a full complement of players at his disposal, as the only guy scheduled to miss the game is Hannah.

Missouri is always tough at Mizzou Arena, and they are actually 2-1 this season when playing ranked teams on Norm Stewart Court .

Missouri is 11-2 at home this year, and in 10 of those 11 wins they have won by 10 or more points including 6 wins of 30+.

I think you get the idea by now. Yes, the Aggies are going to have their hands full on Saturday afternoon.

Guys to keep an eye on for Missouri include:

DeMarre Carroll 6’8” Junior Forward 13.7 points / 7.4 rebounds

Leo Lyons 6’9” Junior Forward 11.8 points / 4.2 rebounds

Keon Lawwrence 6’2” Sophomore Guard 10.5 points / 3.7 rebounds

J.T. Tiller 6’3” Sophomore Guard 6.9 points / 2.5 assists

Vegas has the Aggies as 1.5 point favorites tomorrow.

I actually think the Aggies drop a close game in entertaining fashion. Mizzou Arena is just such a hard place to win and I can not help but think that the Aggies are due for a bit of a letdown.

The Aggie Hoops Report’s Final Score Prediction:

Texas A&M Aggies 77
Missouri Tigers 78


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