Well, well, well. Welcome back Josh Carter. I guess that telephone conversation you had with Coach Gillispie worked. I do not know what the two of you talked about, but I am certainly glad you and the former Aggie coach had the conversation.
The 9th seeded Aggies took down the 8th seeded BYU Cougars by a final score of 67-62 on Thursday evening at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Josh Carter tied his career high with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including an awesome 6-of-10 from downtown. Carter also did a great job tonight of both slashing to the basket and posting guys up with his back to the basket.
I think it goes without saying that Carter was simply awesome on Thursday night, and it could not have come at a better time.
I don’t know if Josh is going to be able to have that kind of night again on Saturday evening when they play UCLA, but I know this much, I am going to enjoy what we all saw tonight for at least the next couple of days.
The Aggies also got great performances from big men Joe Jones (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Bryan Davis (11 points, 7 rebounds).
The two-headed Aggie point guard was also very efficient tonight. Sloan and Kirk combined for 16 points and 11 assists while going a combined 6-for-13 from the field.
Kirk hit a HUGE shot for the Aggies when he knocked down a three-pointer with 26 seconds left to push the Aggies’ lead back to 6 points at 66-60. The shot from Kirk was big because only 33 seconds earlier the Cougars had cut the Aggie lead to only three points when Jimmer Fredette knocked down his own three-pointer for BYU.
The bucket by Kirk came on a great assist by Beau Mulbach who drove to the lane, drew the defense in and kicked the ball back out to the wing finding a wide open Kirk.
The Aggies’ starting five (Kirk, Sloan, Carter, Davis, Jones) were huge on Thursday and accounted for 63 of the Aggies’ 67 points. Kirk, Carter and Sloan each played 35+ minutes in the game and had great energy over the course of the entire game.
I thought BYU played ok, but the game had a feel to it that for some reason it should not have been nearly as close as it was. The Aggies seemed to do a great job rotating and helping tonight on the defensive end of the floor, and the Cougars did not get very many wide open looks.
Leading the BYU effort was swingman Jonathan Tavernari. The big Brazilian played 32 frustrating minutes and scored 15 points on 6-of-15 from the field. The guy who struggled the most tonight was guard Jimmer “don’t call me James” Fredette. Fredette only scored 10 points on 4-of-11 from the field including 2-of-8 from the three point line.
The Aggies jumped out to an 11-0 lead over the first 6 minutes of the game before BYU began to chip away. The Aggies went through one of their spells where they went 5+ minutes without scoring a point, but the good news was that they had enough in the bank that it did not hurt them too badly.
BYU closed out the first half on an 11-3 run that tied the game at 29 as the two teams headed to the break.
The second half was wildly entertaining as the two teams went back and forth for the full 20 minutes, and until Dominique Kirk hit the before mentioned three-pointer with 26 seconds left, neither team held more than a four point lead.
In the end, there was just too much Josh Carter and too much Dominique Kirk for the Cougars to handle. I thought the Aggies showed great balance on the night and did a great job of keeping the game in front of them and at a tempo where they are more comfortable playing.
Turgeon has done a great job with these guys as of late, and this new wrinkle where they are slowing down the game seems to be paying great dividends. When I talk about slowing the game down, I am talking about the Aggies running through multiple sets on the offensive end, not forcing things, making sure the big men touch the ball. They are also not putting up a shot until there is less than 10 seconds on the shot clock.
It might not be the prettiest thing to watch, but you can not deny that it has really allowed this team to play some very effective basketball over their last four games.
Up next for the Aggies will be the #1 seed UCLA Bruins, a team many people across the country have picked to win it all this year.
We will have much more for you guys tomorrow when we take a closer look at the Bruins and how they will match up with the Aggies.
I hope you guys enjoyed the game tonight. There are not but a small group of teams that can say they have won 3 straight first round NCAA tournament games. There are 9 teams that have a chance to do so this year:
Georgetown / Indiana / Memphis / North Carolina / Pittsburgh / Tennessee / Texas / Texas A&M / UCLA
Of those 9 teams, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and UCLA have already accomplished that feat.
OK – That’s it for tonight. What a game for the Aggies!!!!
We’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.