While it was far from a pretty sight and not many eyes came to see it, the A&M basketball team put on their most dominating performance on defense Wednesday night against the Wyoming Cowboys. With the victory, the Ags advance to their second Elite Eight in school history (the other being the NIT in 2005 thanks to great fans of Twitter). I know, not THAT Elite Eight but at least it's something! Let's get to the recap...
The state of Shawn Smith's future remains a mystery, so Kennedy went with the same lineup from the Mizzou game of Alex Caruso-Jordan Green-Jamal Jones-Antwan Space-Kourtney Roberson.
For all the eye rolls and shoulder-shrug reactions since A&M's postseason invite, the Aggie men did not take the opportunity for granted and looked like they were happy to be playing in late March. From the opening tip off, A&M overpowered and simply outplayed the Cowboys with Alex Caruso once again leading the charge. In the first two minutes, the sophomore already had 2pts, 2asts, a steal and drew a charge. Caruso's dominance led to an 11-2 start and it would never get close thereafter. He ended the evening with 6pts, 4rebs and 10asts.
Wyoming was undermanned like the Ags, but the piece they were missing was far more vital. Without their leading scorer, Larry Nance Jr., the Cowboys looked helpless on the court. A&M's aggressive defense simply overwhelmed Wyoming and by the end of the half their offense consisted of errant passes and contested three-pointers.
In the first ten minutes, the Aggies trounced Wyoming with a 21-4 run and went into the break with a 32-16 lead.
There's not much to mention about the second half because it was a whole lot of ugly. A&M never felt threatened after their hot start and regressed a little bit into those ole' offensive woes Aggies fans have grown to never love. Fortunately for the maroon and white, Wyoming never found any rhythm on offense as well.
It gained the feel of a football game that's turned into a blowout. The game loses interest and the winning team starts playing sloppy and basically running out time until the contest is over. A&M's players began taking shots they shouldn't take and threw passes into impossible passing lanes. Basketballs clanged off the rim and found their way out of bounds more often than not. If the Ags really want to make a statement through the CBI, they cannot repeat the second half against their upcoming competition. While the lead was comfortable at 16, it is by no means a wide enough margin to become complacent. Luckily for A&M, two of their most memorable possessions were an attempted alley-oop that banked off the top of the backboard and a line-drive pass that nearly beheaded an Aggie dancer.
Nevertheless, A&M got the lead to as high as 25 and finished strong in what will probably be the final game at Reed Arena, 59-43.
Antwan Space (11pts, 11rebs) played on his best games of the season, but it was Alex Caruso who once again ran the show Wednesday night. Coming off of a career performance against Mizzou last week, the Aggie point guard continued his groove and is playing his best basketball right now. In the first half, Caruso fired on all cylinders and was the key component of A&M putting Wyoming away from the very beginning.
A&M advances and will play Illinois State on Monday, March 24th (time is still TBD).