.....is 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.