Friday, February 27, 2009

Josh Carter Goes Boom! & Iowa State Up Next

"Carter. Rises and fires.....OHHHHH.......A buzzer beater for A&M!!!"

Well - For those of you that went to bed early on Tuesday night, shame on...... ah, who am I kidding, it was a horrible game and the Aggies were down 18 - I can't blame you one bit. The Aggies' game vs. Nebraska may have been a season-changing win and one of the most dramatic wins in recent history, but my goodness, what a horribly painful game to watch for 39 minutes and 57.4 seconds.

Josh Carter's buzzer beater put the Aggies over the top by a final score of 57-55 and kept their faint NCAA tournament hopes alive for a few more days. The Aggies scored 11 of the game's final 10 points, but in my opinion, the crazy night was summarized in the last 19.5 seconds. Over that course of time, Nebraska's Cookie Miller missed 2 free throws, the Aggies turned the ball over, Nebraska turned the ball over, A&M turned it over again, Nebraska turned it over again, the Aggies got fouled, then Josh Carter hit the game winner. YES, THE GAME WAS THAT BAD ALL NIGHT!!!!

All of that being said, at the end of the day - a win is a win - take it, especially when you are fighting for your post-season life each and every night. It was pretty awesome to see the A&M bench empty and dogpile on Carter near midcourt - it was all part of what makes college basketball so awesome this time of year.

If you missed any of the highlights from Tuesday night, including one of the best dunks of the year (Dash Harris), you can see them here:

Dash Harris Dunk
Nate Walkup Dunk
Josh Carter Game Winner

OK - The most popular question this week has been some variant of what the Aggies need to do in order to get in. In my opinion, they obviously need to just keep winning games, but beyond that, I think everything still keys on that season finale when you host Missouri. Without that win, I am not sure the Aggies will get in unless they get the Big 12's automatic bid by winning the tournament in OKC. I will go so far as to say that I think you can still get in even if you drop that game at Colorado, as long as you then turn around and beat Missouri, and then win two games in OKC (which would mean beating one of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri or Texas). If you run the table and take care of business in your first game in OKC, I think you are in at that point. The Aggies' RPI according to ESPN's InsideRPI Daily is all the way up to 35, which again is primarily on the strength of their non-conference wins over LSU and Arizona (you guys need to keep on rooting like heck for both of them....)

I have been saying it for a couple of weeks now, don't give up on these guys just yet, keep hanging in there with them.......

Up next for Turgeon's guys are the Iowa State Cyclones who come to TBBOTB (The Brown Barn on the Brazos) fresh off a 71-62 whoopin' of Baylor in Ames. Iowa State is not great, but they do feature a guy that can flat out get after it in Craig Brackins. The 6'10" Sophomore is averaging 19.9 points (2nd best in the Big 12) and 9.3 rebounds (3rd best in the Big 12) on the year and has put up some stupid numbers:
- 32 points/16 reboudns (N.Iowa)
- 28 points/17 rebounds (Jacksonville St.)
- 38 points/14 rebounds (Houston)
- 42 points/14 rebounds (Kansas)
- 26 points/10 reboudns (Colorado)

Needless to say, Brackins will be priority number 1 for Turgeon and the Aggies. Even though the big fella checks in at 6'`0", he's not afraid to step out and put up the rock from behind the arc. There have been a handful of games this year where he has shot 4 or 5 threes in a game. I would look for the Aggies to be very aggressive switching to and doubling up Brackins in an effort to make the rest of Greg McDermott's guys beat you.

The Aggies have won 5 straight vs. Iowa State, and I see no reason why that trend shouldn't continue on Saturday.

Tipoff is scheduled for 12:45, and the game can be seen on the Big 12 Network (formerly ESPN+) - In Houston the game will be on bootleg 51 (KNWS), and in Dallas it will be on KTXA-21.

Hang in there!!!!

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Iowa State 59
Texas A&M 68

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stayin' Alive!!

The fat lady remains warmed up - but she ain't singing just yet.

The Aggies kept their faint NCAA Tournament chances alive with a big win in Lubbock on Saturday night. The Aggies improved to 5-7 in league play with the 79-73 win over Pat Knight's Raiders. The game was marred by some HORRIBLE officiating in which the men in stripes called a combined 56 fouls. The Aggies were the benefactor of the refs' horrible night, moreso than the Raiders, as the Aggies shot 51 free throws vs. 22 for Tech. Nevermind the fact that the Aggies were simply atrocious from the line in only making 30 of their 51 attempts.

Pat Knight let the league have it after the game - vintage Coach Knight - his dad taught him well. You can read the whole story here:

OK - The biggest thing for me from the game Saturday night was the continued domination of Big Chin. Junior Elonu was simply awesome as he scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while going 8-of-12 from the floor. Josh Carter was also awesome in scoring 20 points while knocking down 4-of-6 three point attempts.

Alright - The Aggies' fight to the finish contines with a pretty tough road game against the smallest team in college basketball - the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The 'Huskers don't play a single guy taller than 6'6", but they will get after you on the defensive end. They lead the Big 12 in scoring defense (58.7 points per game). In addition, the 'Huskers rank second in the league in steals (8.8 per game) and turnover margin (+5.8). They force their opponents into an average of 17.5 turnovers per game.

I would look for the Aggies to pound the ball inside and try to force their will on Nebraska with a huge dose of Elonu, Davis and Loubeau. The Huskers are led by Ade Dagunduro (12.1 ppg / 4.2 rpg) and Steve Harley (10.7 ppg / 3.4 rpg). Lincoln is a tough place to play, and Nebraska has already notched home wins this year against Texas, Missouri and K-State.

The game agaisnt Nebraska can be seen on ESPN2 Tuesday Night at 8:30 with Bob Wischusen and Doug Gottlieb calling the action.

I said it last week and I'll say it again - don't give up on this group of guys just yet - their RPI is all the way up to 38 and they have a chance to keep their name in the hat with this closing stretch of games. I put a quick note out on TexAgs about it, but I think it's great that the Aggies have Gottlieb calling the game tomorrow night. With his national radio show and his presence on most all of ESPN's national basketball coverage - having him see a good performance by the Aggies tomorrow night could go a long way in helping to drum up some positive publicity.

One final note - I was asked this week to say a firm "yes" or "no" with regards to whether or not I think the Aggies get into the tournament. I will tell you that I can't be fully objective about it, but yeah, right now I think they get in. I think their RPI is shaping up quite nicely, and I think they can do one of two things to get in:
1.) Finish with a sweep (9-7 league record) + 1 win in OKC
2.) Finish with 3-1 record over these last 4 games including a win over Missouri + 2 wins in OKC. Said another way, I think 8-8 (with win over Missouri) + two wins in OKC will be enough.

It just seems to me that they are finally playing with some determination like there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

What do you guys think - are they going to be able to sneak in?

Tomorrow night, Vegas has the Aggies as 3.5 point underdogs.

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Texas A&M 62
Nebraska 55

Carry on.

Feb. 23 Poll Submission

1 Pittsburgh 3
2 Connecticut 1
3 Memphis 3
4 North Carolina 1
5 Louisville 2
6 Oklahoma 4
7 Missouri 1
8 Arizona St. 1
9 Kansas 4
10 Michigan St. 5
11 Marquette 1
12 Purdue
13 Villanova 3
14 Duke 8
15 Gonzaga 4
16 Clemson 1
17 Louisiana St. 3
18 UCLA 3
19 Wake Forest 1
20 Utah
21 Illinois 7
22 West Virginia
23 Washington 2
24 Florida St.
25 Xavier 1
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Syracuse (#19), Butler (#23), Dayton (#25).

Saturday, February 21, 2009 this thing on???

Howdy friends - Sorry it has been so long since our last update - been a wickedly busy two weeks at the ol' homestead.

Anyhow, let's get you guys caught up and then I'll give you a thought or two on what I think the Aggies have to do in order to keep their very-very slim NCAA tournament hopes alive.

Since we've been sleeping, the Aggies managed to put together a disastrous 3-game losing streak against Oklahoma, K-State and Baylor before bouncing back to put another whippin' on Texas at Reed Arena.

71-77 loss at Oklahoma
The loss at Oklahoma may very well be the one that sends the Aggies to the NIT this year as opposed to the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies were ahead by 9 (68-59) with 6:25 left on the road, against the #2 team in the nation, before being outscored 18-3 from that point. The Aggies were awesome for 34 minutes, and it's a darn shame they could not hold on. In the middle of this game, the Aggies turned a 12-24 deficit into a 68-59 lead - a stretch that saw them outscore the Sooners 56-35. Do not for one second tell me that when this team is focused and playing on the same page that they can't compete with anyone in this league. The biggest criticism I had after the loss in Norman is that I think that Turgeon may have gone to a "burn clock" offensive mindset too early. When you were going as good as the Ags were, you don't change a thing. With about 5 minutes left, Turge started having his guys run sets that were designed to burn the clock. This would be the equivalent of a football coach starting to give it to his fullback up the middle on every play with about 7:30 left in the 4th quarter when you are playing against a prolific passing attack. Um, generally not a good idea.

60-65 loss vs. Kansas State
After dropping the heart-breaker in Norman, the Aggies hosted the red-hot K-State Wildcats and again failed to answer the bell and let a game get away from them that they had no business losing. They looked unprepared, disinterested and at times bored - it was horrible to watch. What made it worse was that they did put together a little rally to get back into the game and took a 1 point lead with 6:48 left. But alas, it was more of the same - they were outscored 16-10 down the stretch. The loss at Reed was another improbable and frustrating one as there is nothing more important than protecting your home court in league play.

68-72 loss at Baylor
The Aggies took their bye-week to regroup before heading to Waco to take on the Baylor Bears. The Baylor fans that relentlessly booed Donald Sloan (retaliation for his showboat dunk at the end of last year's game in Waco) all night. Despite the hostile environment, Sloan actually played fairly well and scored 13 points. However, the bye-week did not prove to do much for the Aggies as they again fell short and dropped a not-as-close-as-it-looks game to Baylor 72-68. Baylor more or less had their way with the Aggies and managed to hold on at the end for the win.

81-66 win vs. Texas
The Aggies quickly bounced back from the Baylor loss and put together their most complete outing of the year when they put yet another beat-down on the UT Longhorns at Reed Arena. The Aggies have won 5-straight home games vs. Texas and it's kind of fun to see yet another Senior class roll through without having lost to the 'Horns in their home building. The Aggies were simply awesome on Monday night as they had 5 guys score in double digits and shot a very impressive 49% from the field (28-for-57). The win over Texas left the Aggies' NCAA tournament door slightly cracked and has left us all with a slight glimmer of hope.

Where to go from here ?
OK - What does this mean for the Aggies? Well, they are currently 4-and-7 in the league with 5 games left. Let me make one thing very clear - all you can do from this point is to just simply keep winning basketball games. The Aggies' next 5 games are all certainly winnable, but the fact that 3 of them are on the road makes it a very daunting task. They have basically zero margin for error and need to get as many W's as they can as we wrap up the 2008-2009 season.

Who do they have left?
21-Feb @ Texas Tech
24-Feb @ Nebraska
28-Feb vs. Iowa State
4-Mar @ Colorado
7-Mar vs. Missouri

I think they can certainly win all of those games. Of course the key one in the whole stretch is the season finale vs. what will most likely be a top-10 Missouri team. If they can somehow win all 5 of these games + 1 in OKC during the conference tournament, I think it will undoubtedly be enough to get them in.

If the Aggies manage to go 4-1 over the final 5 games and then win 2 games in OKC - I still think their resume may still be enough to get them into the Big Dance.

If they go 3-2 or anything less over these final 5 games, they will have to win the Big 12 tournament and get the automatic bid in order to make it.

The biggest thing from my perspective is that we have seen just how good this group of guys can play - in wins over LSU, Arizona, Texas and Baylor they have looked like they can play with or beat just about anyone in the nation. When you go back and look how they played vs. Tulsa, K-State and Kansas - they look like a below average NIT team. Let's hope we see more of the former and not the latter as they wind down here in the home stretch.

Speaking of LSU and Arizona - the fact that these two teams are playing VERY well right now has really been a boost to the Aggies RPI numbers. ESPN's InsideRPI currently has their RPI at 43, which for a team that has lost 7 of their last 11 games is pretty darn impressive. It really makes you wonder what a win in Norman and/or vs. K-State would have done for the Aggies?!?!?!?!?

Aggies at Texas Tech - Saturday - Fox Sports Net - 5:00
As everyone knows all-too-well, bad things happen when the sun goes down in Lubbock, and I fully suspect Saturday night will be no exception. Lately, it does not seem to matter much which sport it is, Aggie sports teams traveling to Lubbock across the board have had a VERY hard time winning games. With regards to this contest, Tech is just not a very good basketball team, but as is usually the case, the Red Raiders get a little extra juice in their game when the Aggies come to town. If both teams come out and play their games, the Aggies should win this game by ~10 points.

The homer in me really wants to say that I HOPE the good guys will come out with a little extra motivation and know that every game from here on out is a must-win game.

As has become standard, I think Saturday night will hinge on Bryan Davis - he has been the catalyst for the Aggies, and if BD can come out and have a good game I think the Aggies will take down the Raiders.

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction
Texas A&M 73
Texas Tech 64

We'll talk to you guys along the way - don't give up on this group just yet!!!!! Hang with them for another game or two and let's take it from there.

Carry on.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Feb. 16 Poll Submission

1 Connecticut
2 Oklahoma
3 North Carolina
4 Pittsburgh
5 Michigan St. 1
6 Memphis 1
7 Louisville 2
8 Missouri 15
9 Arizona St. 8
10 Marquette 2
11 Gonzaga 8
12 Purdue 6
13 Kansas 1
14 Illinois 7
15 UCLA 6
16 Villanova 6
17 Clemson 6
18 Wake Forest 5
19 Syracuse 1
20 Louisiana St.
21 Washington
22 Duke 8
23 Butler 7
24 Xavier 9
25 Dayton
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Utah St. (#22), Kansas St. (#24), Florida St. (#25).

Monday, February 09, 2009

Feb. 9 Poll Submission

1 Connecticut
2 Oklahoma
3 North Carolina
4 Pittsburgh
5 Louisville
6 Michigan St.
7 Memphis
8 Marquette
10 Villanova
11 Clemson
12 Kansas
13 Wake Forest
14 Duke
15 Xavier
16 Butler
17 Arizona St.
18 Purdue
19 Gonzaga
20 Syracuse
21 Illinois
22 Utah St.
23 Missouri
24 Kansas St.
25 Florida St.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Aggies Take On K-State Today - 3:00 - Big 12 Network

The Aggies take on Frank Martin and his bunch from K-State today at 3:00.

The game can be seen on the Big 12 Network (formerly ESPN +) and a list of stations carrying the game can be found here:

After today's game the Aggies have their bye-week and are not in action again until a week from today when they are at Baylor.

In the first part of this week we'll take a comprehensive look at where the Aggies stand and what they need to do in order to get into the Big Dance. We'll also take a look at the general state of the Big 12 and also catch you guys up on "Aggies in the NBA....."

Today's game vs. KSU is not necessarily a "must win", but it is certainly one you do not want to drop. K-State has been pretty Jekyll and Hyde this year and their signature win came over Texas in Austin last weekend. They are currently riding a 4-game winning streak as they come into Reed today.

Their best player is a cool cat named Denis Clemente who dropped 44 on UT last weekend.

I think the Aggies bounce back after Wednesday's heartbreak in Norman and take care of business today.

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Kansas State 61

Texas A&M 74

Carry on.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

OSU Part II Recap / OU Part II Preview

We'll take a quick look back at the Aggies' much needed win vs. OSU last Saturday and their upcoming game against the #2 ranked OU Sooners on Wednesday night (8:00 Big 12 Network).

OSU Part II Recap
The Aggies were able to exact some revenge on Saturday afternoon and took down the OSU Cowboys by a final score of 76-64. One of the biggest things you have to do in league play is to protect your home court, and the Aggies have now done so in "up" games against both Baylor and Oklahoma State, as well as the to-be-expected win over Tech.

On Saturday afternoon the Aggies were much better on both ends of the floor, playing some aggressive switching man-to-man defense as well as establishing Davis, Loubeau and Elonu on the offensive interior. Davis led all scorers for the Aggies with 18 points while Carter (17), Sloan (15) and Loubeau (10) rounded out 4 Aggies that scored in double digits. The biggest two guys for the Aggies in this go-round with the Pokes were Carter and Davis who combined for 35 points on Saturday after scoring a combined 3 points in Stillwater almost 3 weeks ago.

OSU shot a season low 38% from the field including 6-for-27 from the three point line (22.2%). The Cowboys came into the game leading the league in 3 point FG% at 41.7%

I think there were a couple of things in play, one of which was A&M's switching man-defense seemed to really confuse the OSU shooters. OSU missed a handful of shots they usually make, but I thought the Aggies had great pressure on their shooters for the better part of the entire game. Cowboy coach Travis Ford had this to say, "The way they were switching on defense, it gave our guys less time to set up our plays. So we had to tell our guys to keep running the play." OSU guard Terrell Harris added, "They did a lot of switching on defense, and that really threw us off. Their big guys were moving to the ball, and as small of a team as we are, we should have been able to take advantage of that, and we didn't."

One other thing I thought was very interesting was that Coach Ford kept OSU in a 3/4 court trapping zone defense for the entire first half and most of the 2nd half. What that zone did was grind the pace of the game to a near standstill. What was crazy is the thing that can make OSU so tough to beat is when they get out and run and keep the game at a near-frantic pace. It was almost as if OSU was their own worst enemy on Saturday afternoon. Uh, thanks coach!!!

OK - It was a good win and a much-needed win for the Aggies as they finally put together back-to-back league wins for the first time this year.

One final thought - Freshman David Loubeau was outstanding again off the bench for Turgeon. Loubeau finished the game with 10 points and 4 rebounds (all offensive) and has now posted back-to-back games scoring in double digits (11 points vs. Tech). Loubeau is playing some darn good ball right now and is finally starting to show Aggie fans why he was rated the 63rd best player in the country coming out of high school.

OU Part II Preview
Call me crazy, call me nuts, call me what you will, but I actually think the Aggies stand a fighting chance in Norman tomorrow night.

Yes, OU is #2 in the country.
Yes, they have only 1 loss on the season.
Yes, they are undefeated at home.

That being said, I loved what assistant coach Bill Walker said after the game on Saturday afternoon, "You know what, someone is going to beat them in their building, it might as well be us....."

I'm not going to say that I think A&M will win this game, I'm just saying that I think they are going to keep it pretty darn close. If they get a break or two down the stretch and somehow pull the shocking upset, I won't be all that surprised.

Where am I coming from on this one? I just really liked the way they matched up with the Sooners in their first go-round at Reed Arena 18 days ago. The only wildcard I am not sure of at this point in time is the addition of JUCO transfer Juan Pattillo who recently had his redshirt taken off by Coach Jeff Capel. Pattillo has burst onto the scene in Norman and added a much-needed role player off the bench for the Sooners. Pattillo is a big body who can get inside and mix it up with the Brothers-Griffin. The 6'6" junior was a key element to their past two wins over OSU and Iowa State.

I wonder how many head-shaking three pointers Austin Johnson will make from the parking lot tomorrow night.

I still stand by my thought from the first matchup with OU. I think you let Blake Griffin get his and fight like heck to shut down Johnson, Willie Warren and Pattillo. Of those three, I think the key guy is Johnson. The Sooners are a different team when he is not in a rhythm.

Alright, TV may be tricky depending on where you live (sorry Dallas readers, or nothing for you). You can check this thread on TexAgs if you want to know where the game can be seen in your area:

Tomorrow is national signing day for football - will anyone in the state of Oklahoma even know there is a basketball game tomorrow? Let's hope not.

Aggie Hoops Report Score Prediction:
Texas A&M 67

Oklahoma 72

Carry on.