WHERE: Reed Arena, College Station, TX
A week ago, Texas A&M exacted revenge on Mississippi State with a 20-point throttling. After an excruciating 5-game losing streak, the victory was a welcome sign that the team still had some fight left in them. But after returning to form against Georgia last Saturday, the win over the Bulldogs seems more like an outlier than anything else.
Now the Ags host LSU at Reed Arena in the first of two matchups the teams will have this season. The Tigers arrive on the fringes of the NCAA Tournament bubble. According to Joe Lunardi's most recent Bracketology, LSU would be in the play-in game for the 11th seed. Given the status of Aggie hoops, a defeat for the Bayou Bengals would certainly go down as a "bad loss" on the resume.
Here are the three keys for A&M to have a shot at an upset.
KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF, MR. CARUSO
In 3 of the last 5 games, Alex Caruso has fouled out and, if you count out the MSU game, he's only averaged 1.5 assists in that time frame as well. It's reasonable why the sophomore has seen a recent uptick in the PF column. During a losing skid where nothing seems to be going one's way, it's understandable to try to make things happen and go for an extra steal or block. But Caruso is far too valuable to be on the bench for the end of games.
The point guard's at his best when he's jumping passing lanes and driving to the basket to set up open shots for Jamal Jones or easy buckets for Kourtney Roberson and it's been hammered home on GBH that when Caruso's on his game, the team is exceedingly better.
IT'S OKAY TO HELP
There have been some memorably bad games on offense, obviously. The Georgia game wasn't the worst, but it may have been the Aggies' most stagnant performance to date. During the 8+ minute field goal drought to end the game, the offensive strategy resorted to the following: Pass to Jamal Jones, sit back, and pray something good happens. My sources tell me this strategy usually doesn't end well.
It's quite apparent Jones has the Jimmer Fredette Green Light to shoot wherever and whenever he pleases. This is fine, but it should not stall the offense. If there was anything the single victory last Wednesday showed, it's that the team does have a level where it can hit on all cylinders and go on a run. If the Ags want to have a chance against a stout LSU opponent, it will take one of these moments.
A LITTLE SOMETHING TO KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP
If you're continuing to follow Aggie basketball, you deserve something to keep up your self-esteem. For that I give you the four-year anniversary of this gem...
If you're thinking, "That's not the Donald Sloan dunk I remember." You're right. You're thinking of...
Sorry, I had to.
I'll get the drinking started early for Good Bull Hunting's Meet-Up on February 22nd.
LSU - 75, A&M - 57