Thursday, January 08, 2009

......Heading Into Big 12 Play

We'll have 2 notes for you guys tonight/tomorrow as the Aggies finally hit the trail in the Big 12.

In this note I want to pass along a couple of thoughts on the Aggies' final 3 games of the pre-conference slate.

Rice Recap
The Aggies played their best 20 minutes of basketball all year long in the 2nd half at Rice. It was the first time this season that I thought to myself that Turgeon may have a group on his hands that could make a little noise as we move into 2009. I don't know what was said at halftime, but the Aggies came out and quickly erased the 5 point lead (34-29) that the Owls held at the break.

Over the final 20 minutes, the Aggies played with defensive intensity that just made you shake your head. The Owls were held to 6-of-21 from the field, a paltry 28% over that time span, and even one of those buckets was a free gift from the refs.

I could spend hours talking about a crazy play that resulted in a free basket for Rice and then two technical free throws. The short story is that Turgeon and the Aggies never broke their huddle following a 30 second timeout called by Rice. The refs kind of looked around and then handed the ball to the Rice player on the sideline, and he threw it to his guy under the basket who then dunked the ball as the Aggies had no players on the court. When Turgeon looked up and saw what was going on, he went bonkers. I'm amazed he didn't get kicked out of the game.

Back out those 4 points, and the Aggies held Rice to only 22 points and 5 field goals in the 2nd period.

Anyhow, the Aggies played so well in the second half I actually allowed myself to start thinking that they may be starting to play some of their best ball as we headed into league play.

That fun lasted 4 days until the Good Guys returned home to play McNeese State on Saturday the 3rd......

Game leaders:
Bryan Davis (18 points / 10 rebounds)
Junior Elonu (14 points / 8 rebounds)

McNeese Recap
Well. I'm not sure what to say here. The Aggies followed up their outstanding 2nd half at Rice with what was likely their worst 40 minutes of the season (yes, worse than the Tulsa abomination). In the proces the Aggies were on the verge of losing any credibility they had built and nearly lost to the McNeese State Cowboys.


This game featured another patented Aggie-Scoreless-Streak as they went nearly 6 minutes without scoring a point, and the game stood tied at 52 each with 3:20 left to play.


Anyhow, they did manage to hold TMSC scoreless for the final 3:20 and held on for the 57-52 win.

Book the win and move on - Yawn. Same song, different dance.

Game leaders:
Junior Elonu (15 points / 7 rebounds)
Josh Carter (13 points / 6 rebounds)


North Dakota Recap
As they closed out the non-confernce portion of the schedule, the Aggies hosted the Fighting Sioux from North Dakota. This game was also a bit of a mystery as the Aggies looked bored and disinterested (see Turgeon comments below) and again just acted like they were sleepwalking. Sound familiar?

North Dakota hung around and was within striking distance at 37-33 with 17 minutes left to play before the Aggies pulled away.

Led by two huge 3's from BJ Holmes, they finally started to widen the gap and put the hammer down as they built an 18 point lead at 56-38. The 19-to-5 run put the game on ice and the Aggies cruised to the 76-62 win.

Turgeon added after the game, "I do know our guys think they're good. Maybe they are bored with the schedule, I don't know."

Turgeon's candor is great but can also be confusing at times. I'm never sure I've ever heard a coach wonder out loud to the media if his team is bored with the schedule he put together for them. I do know this though, their non-conference slate this year (ranked 316th out of 344 in the nation by was somewhere between awful and terrible. If the kids did get bored playing horrible teams, I can not say that I blame them. I hope Turgeon realizes this and puts together a better schedule next season.


Book the win and move on - Yawn. Same song, different dance.

Game leaders:
Josh Carter (18 points / 4 rebounds)
Junior Elonu (13 points / 11 rebounds)

Random Thoughts

Alright, what does all of this add up to?

Well. I think the Aggies are going to be okay this year. I don't think they are going to be great, or even good, but I think they certainly have the guys on the roster to win 8 or 9 league games and be able to get into the NCAA Tournament as a 7 to 10 seed.

We will touch on it more in the Big 12 preview, but I will add this, they did pick a heck of a year to not have their strongest squad relative to the rest of the Big 12. When you look at the league this year relative to A&M, I would say it shakes out kind of like this:

-- Better Than A&M:
Baylor (somehow)
and probably Kansas (especially when the Aggies have to go to Lawrence)

-- About The Same As A&M:
Kansas State
Oklahoma State

-- Worse Than A&M:
Texas Tech
Iowa State

I will also add this. I think you will be hard pressed to find a tougher opening 5 game stretch than what faces the Aggies in the next two weeks.

They have to play the following kick-in-the-pants schedule to open league play:
- at Oklahoma State
- vs Baylor
- vs Oklahoma
- at Kansas
- at Texas

YIKES! If the Aggies can go 2-3 through that stretch, take it! I won't much care how you add it up, but you have to win 1 of 3 on the road and split those home games. Anything on top of that is just gravy, and who doesn't love gravy?

OK - That should take up enough of your time for today - plus I need to get started on that Big 12 preview.

Carry on.


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