When the Puerto Rico Tip Off line-up was announced, the GBH basketball staff was pretty excited. The field, while not anything special, certainly put the Ags in a favorable position to grab one (or more) wins that would offset the resume-killing effects of #SECBasketballFever.
But now? Now we're looking at something entirely different. A&M's loss in a very, very winnable game puts the squad in disaster recovery mode.
Tournament now becomes about trying to avoid bad losses instead of getting good wins.— Aubrey Bloom (@aubreyrbloom) November 20, 2014
Starting Lineup: Jones, Allen, Green, Caruso, Roberson
Small surprise here seeing Allen with the starting nod. Some (myself included) were wondering if we'd see a Robinson sighting at PG from the beginning.
The opening ten minutes were marred by court issues, as players from both teams struggled to adjust to the humid environment in the arena. The Ags, to their credit, adjusted quickly. Dayton did not. The Flyers repeatedly closed hard on the perimeter, and they consistently lost their footing and picked up cheap fouls 25-30 feet from the basket. The most telling statistic from the opening passage of this game? At one point in the first half (10:30 remaining), the game had thirteen total fouls and twelve total points. Yeah.
The Ags pulled away in the latter stages of the half with an insane advantage on the offensive glass and some surprisingly good free throw shooting, but Dayton used a series of A&M turnovers to close the gap by halftime. It was somewhat frustrating to watch, as A&M's half court defense was really giving the Flyers fits. Your score at the break: Dayton 22, Texas A&M 21
If you have any relatives that you do not like, send them the first half of this game hidden in a DVD cover of Frozen or something. Holiday spirit, y'all.
Key First Half Statistics
- Texas A&M: 7-28 from the field, 16 turnovers, 7-10 FT, 31-8 rebounding advantage
- Dayton: 9-25 from the field, 11 fouls, 13 of 22 points off of A&M turnovers
- Kourtney Roberson: 8 points, 13 total rebounds (9 on the offensive glass)
The second half was better. Not good, but better. Like, the way Luby's tastes better than Junior High cafeteria food. That kind of better. Jalen Jones, who was really quiet in the first half, was much more active coming out of the break and was a factor on both ends of the floor (he took three charges by my count). Peyton Allen settled down and took good shots in the flow of the offense, and Roberson and Space continued to mercilessly hit the offensive boards.
But the real difference in A&M's second half was Caruso. On two straight possessions, he took the ball hard to the rim for an easy bucket, and he added multiple assists for great looks over the next few minutes. He even kicked in a three for good measure, and it was a pleasant reminder of his ceiling.
It was a good thing, too, because the Flyers started playing some basketball of their own. Point Guard Scoochie Smith, who is the early leader in my "favorite name of the year" clubhouse, ran the show and Kyle Davis and Dyshawn Pierre scored enough to keep pace.
The Stretch (Aggies lead 50-47; three minutes remaining)
- Alex Robinson makes a great move to the basket
and completely shakes his defenderbut receives a bullsherm travelling call, and Jalen Jones is called for some reallllly light contact on the other end. Dayton hits both.
- Two Caruso free throws are nullified by a Dayton bucket, and an Aggie TO is offset by a Dayton missed three.
- The teams trade trips to the charity stripe. A&M hits one, Dayton hits two.
At this point, there are 56 seconds left on the game clock and it's tied 53-53. A&M has one of two options:
- Take the first good shot available, knowing that we'll have 8-10 seconds remaining with our last possession even if our insane performance on the offensive glass doesn't grab the miss
- Run a full set for a better look, effectively giving Dayton the final possession
We went with option #2. It did lead to a good look, but Caruso's heavily contested layup didn't go down.
Which led to this.
Caruso's last second shot from half court rimmed out... and that was that.
Your final score: Dayton 55, Texas A&M 53
Final Stat Sheet