First, we just have to say that the existence of this article is amazing. There were enough outstanding individual moments in one season to necessitate an entire article, and that hasn't happened in a looooong time. Certainly not since this site has been around.
There were too many cool moments to make the cut, believe it or not. Consider the LSU home win. It was the first truly packed Reed Arena in years, the game had a national TV audience, we played really well and won comfortably, and a kid hit a half court shot to win five grand. And there were ten things that were even better.
That's the kind of year we had.
Let's break it down.
10) New Heights (Reaching #5; Selection Sunday and the #3 seed)
JDMyatt: Yes, being ranked #5 was followed with losing 5 out of their next 6 games. Yes, fans were genuinely surprised the Aggies still got a 3-seed despite losing in the SEC tournament. Nevertheless, this year’s team made history by becoming the program’s first ever Top-5 team, and only the second to earn a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament. The feats this year put the Aggies grabbed the attention of college basketball for the first time since 2007. So much so that our own Commander in Chief picked us to go to the Final 4!
9) The Arrival (Beating #10 Gonzaga)
gigthem08: This was it... the moment we realized we had a legitimate team on our hands. The win over Texas in the first round was nice, sure, but that Longhorn squad was still learning the Shaka Smart system. This was a different beast entirely.
At the time, Gonzaga was ranked #10 in the nation and was the trendy pick to win the Battle 4 Atlantis. This game was seen as one of the biggest upsets of Thanksgiving week, and it was sorely needed after yet another limp football performance against LSU.
This win served notice to the SEC, to the nation, and to our own fans.
It was time to pay attention.
8) Business Time (First Round NCAA victory)
JDMyatt: After a day which included a 4, 3, and 2-seed all getting upset, Texas A&M took care of business and routed 14-seed Green Bay. The Ags came out slow and let the Phoenix hang around for a while, but the depth and ramped-up defense of A&M took control and never looked back. Danuel House put on his most efficient performance of the year, scoring 20 points on 8-12 shooting. To put the cherry the on top, after the Aggie victory, we all got to be witness to this:
7) Breaking LSU's Spirit (SEC Semis)
gigthem08: Tonny Trocha dunked on Ben Simmons, stared him down, and was given a technical foul. And nobody cared about the technical because that dunk put us up 46-19. That's the kind of day it was.
Y'all, we kicked LSU's ass on an almost unheard of scale. A few fun facts:
- LSU jumped out to an 8-3 lead, and we finished the half ahead 35-13.
- That means we closed the half on an extended 32-5 run.
- Have y'all ever heard the phrase "the beatings will continue until morale improves?" Morale never improved. We pushed the lead to forty points with 2:24 remaining.
- After this game Johnny Jones was fired, Ben Simmons left for the NBA, and Tim Quartermann unexpectedly also jumped ship to the NBA.
- This beating was so savage and comprehensive that we literally broke the LSU basketball program. It was reeling, but we broke it in half over our damn knee like a college basketball version of Bane. It felt amazing.
- The win propelled Texas A&M to our first conference tournament championship game since 1994.
6) Big XII Regular Season Champions (beating #14 Iowa State)
JDMyatt: Sprinkled in the midst of that bizzare losing skid was an absolute gem of a basketball game Texas A&M and #14 Iowa State put on at Reed Arena. The first half found the two teams in a standstill with both unable to make any shots and went into the half tied at 30. The second half though would be a different story. The game went back and forth until the depth of A&M finally tired out the thin Cyclones, outscoring them 16-6 in the last 5 minutes. The victory was sealed when Danuel House capped off what was a dunk-filled afternoon with one final And-1 in the final minute. Though a losing streak followed, the Aggie victory completed the 4-game sweep of the Big 12.
5) A Two Hour Baptism (Baylor game)
JDMyatt: My personal pick for the best moment of the season for Aggie basketball. The previous season, Baylor embarrassed the Aggies in Waco on a primetime ESPN telecast. This season the Ags faced the same scenario, but got their revenge and laid a whooping on the Bears at Reed. In arguably the team's most well-played game of the season, A&M blitzed the Bears from the opening tip off, playing suffocating defense and hitting on all cylinders on offense. Baylor would never threaten a comeback, going down as many as 29 points in the second half. Not only did they redeem their loss from the previous season, but they brought back great memories of what made the Battle of Brazos so great in the mid-late 2000's. They also validated to everyone in Aggieland and beyond that this team was for real.
It also lead @TelcoAg to create a gif that I frequently go to whenever I need a pick-me-up.
4) Goodbye to the transitive property (Texas game)
gigthem08: We have unfortunately found ourselves in a world where 90% (or more) of our student body hasn't seen a Texas A&M / Texas game live. A world where recruiting smack, online polls, schadenfreude, and the got dang transitive property pass as the only reasons for smack talk. It sucks, and I hate it.
That reality was the backdrop for the first basketball meeting between the two schools since the move to the SEC, and it was a loooooong time coming. It was also a game we had to win.
We looked great.
Texas rallied a few times late, but we held them off each time and ultimately capped an eleven point victory. When the sips started chirping during our February swoon, it was all too easy to respond with the five beautiful words that make rivalries great:
"Shut up. We beat you."
3) Kentucky at Reed Arena
gigthem08: This game was about so, so much more than a big home basketball win - it was a culture change for an entire student body. The current crop on campus really hadn't had much to cheer for at home games across the major sports, and this was a welcome change.
We had a national TV audience and College Gameday to set the tone, and we played spectacularly against a Kentucky Wildcat squad that we ultimately overtook for the SEC title.
It was a back and forth affair that took years off our lives, but the good guys prevailed on a Tyler Davis game-winning tip in.
A new generation of students had a signature home win.
2) Cutting Down The Nets (Vanderbilt + Senior Day)
gigthem08: I don't think I can improve upon my emotions in the immediate aftermath of that game, so I'm just going to run it back.
What do you do when your favorite team breaks a thirty year title drought?
First, you do nothing. You stare. You watch the teams shake hands while staffers hurriedly set up for Senior Day. Then you see a ladder. Wait, why is there a ladder? Oh, shit. They're gonna cut down the nets. That's how this works. The realization begins to set in because OH SHIT THE NETS ARE COMING DOWN. THERE'S A LADDER OUT THERE AND LADDERS DON'T BELONG ON BASKETBALL COURTS SO THAT MUST MEAN THE NETS ARE COMING DOWN.
Second, the emotion kicks in. But not the all caps kind. The real kind. The "I made peace with the fact that I might never see this happen, and now it's happening" kind. You start to see how much it means to the players. The coaches. The families. The players are now wearing SEC Championship shirts. The cardboard SEC logos are being brandished. The emotion slowly shifts to celebration.
Third, normalcy kicks in. You watch everyone climb up the ladder to cut down the nets, because that's what the ladder is for. You and the ladder now have an uneasy understanding. What seemed impossible ninety seconds ago is now somehow normal, because everyone has a championship shirt and there's a ladder on the court. So this is what happens next. You've seen it on TV, so you pretend that it's old hat. The players climb up one by one to grab their piece. Coach Kennedy climbs the ladder with his wife to cut down the last piece because he's the nicest guy ever. The security folks leave, and the court opens up.
Fourth... you still don't leave. Why would you leave? The inside of Reed Arena has happy conference title things, and the outside of Reed Arena does not. So you stay. You make your way down to the court and walk around. Everyone down here is happy. Players are taking photos and signing everything in sight. Coaches are relaxed and loose. Families are chatty as well, with some noticeable red eyes for those associated with Seniors. You talk to everyone who will listen. Everyone left has the same idea in mind - find a way to extend this moment. Find a way to hang around and live in the atmosphere of a fresh conference title for just a few more minutes.
Eventually, it dissipates. You walk outside and try to process the afternoon. You repeat the phrase in your head a hundred times. It still sounds weird, but maybe it will make sense next time. Surely.
"We just won the SEC."
"We just won the SEC."
"We just won the SEC."
1) The Miracle (NIU Comeback)
gigthem08: The current sports landscape is rife with exaggeration... but this was literally the best comeback in the history of college basketball. And we freaked out. No joke, y'all... we literally wrote nine different pieces on this game.
As the most recent item on this list, we probably don't have to lay it all out for you again. But we're going to, because we literally never get tired of talking about it.
We were down by a dozen with :44 seconds remaining, and we won. If UNI does any one of about fifteen things differently, we lose. If we foul at any point, we lose. If we miss a shot, we lose. It was a comeback that literally broke the "safe lead" formula, which was developed by the pioneer of the Moneyball movement and one of the most respected sports statisticians of all time.
Per The Bill James Lead Calculator, Northern Iowa's lead was 100% safe with 35 seconds left. Now in OT against A&M pic.twitter.com/TUoKjhmvnY— Dan Feldman (@DanFeldmanNBA) March 21, 2016
Here's the video. One last time. (Who are we kidding. We'll probably watch it next week)
Thanks for following our basketball coverage this year, gang. We had a blast.