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Texas A&M survives a scare from Northern Kentucky

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The defending Horizon League champions gave a short-handed A&M all they could handle

NCAA Basketball: Northern Kentucky at Texas A&M C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

Exhale.

Northern Kentucky had recently taken Memphis to the wire on the road, they almost beat Kentucky in the NCAA tournament last year, and they came into this game with “sleepy December upset” written all over them.

To make matters worse, we were missing Admon Gilder, Robert Williams, TJ Starks, and Isiah Jasey through injury.

We got a 64-58 win tonight, but it was hard-earned.

Let’s break it down.

Bricks! Bricks for sale!

I don’t wish to get lost in the day-to-day semantics of a roving brick salesman, but if such a venture existed, Reed Arena would have been paradise on earth. Take a look at these shooting statistics.

  • UNK Threes: 7-28 (25%)
  • UNK Free Throws: 5-12 (41%)
  • UNK Field Goals: 23-64 (36%)
  • A&M Threes: 2-20 (10%)
  • A&M Field Goals: 23-61 (37.7%)

Had either squad shot the ball, they would have won comfortably. But as it stood, we were faced with an ugly, choppy, low scoring basketball game. At the end of the first half, the buzzer probably woke half the crowd from a nap. It was pretty bad.

Halftime Score: Texas A&M 29, Northern Kentucky 23

Time to grow up

With a pesky Northern Kentucky lingering and a lack of options due to the aforementioned injuries, we had to give some big minutes to some young guys tonight.

And y’all, they held up well.

Caldwell slid into the starting lineup with a great all-around game (6 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) and Flagg (12 points, 4-7 FG, 10 rebounds) was arguably our best player down the stretch. These weren’t empty minutes, either. These guys were on the floor during crunch time possessions against an opponent that was absolutely not afraid of the moment. It was a great opportunity to get some huge experience for our younger reserve guys, and it’s always nice to accomplish that on a winning evening.

Northern Kentucky kept it close late into the game, but a mini-run near the four minute mark and some excellent late game defense were enough to ice it. Kudos in particular to DJ Hogg, who made a great steal/save on the biggest defensive possession (56-52, :48 remaining) of the game.

Final Score: Texas A&M 64, Northern Kentucky 58

Box Score

What does it all mean?

Honestly, it means this isn’t the Texas A&M of years past. Most Aggie squads wouldn’t have survived this game without 3/8’s of their big game rotation, but that’s what we did tonight.

A few additional game notes before we close this out

  • Duane Wilson (16 points, 6-16 shooting) got his points the hard way, but it was almost out of necessity. We were lethargic for large stretches on offense, and he often found himself with the ball with a winding shot clock. Decent effort by him tonight.
  • Tyler Davis (14 points, 7-12 shooting, 10 rebounds) was great again. It was especially tough to get him looks without Williams on the floor, but he made them count. Shouts for his 37 minutes played, too... that’s not something a younger Tyler Davis could have done.
  • With these injuries and a feisty opponent, we ran a pretty tight ship. Four players played 32+ minutes, and Flagg and Trocha each chipped in 25. Flagg certainly made his case for more big time minutes, which will be interesting to see when we’re back at full strength.

I’ll leave you with this: try not to be annoyed by the ‘nameless’ opponent in this scoreline. The ‘any win is a good win’ trope can be tiresome at times, but I promise it applies tonight. We can nitpick on a different day.

Another above-average small school (Buffalo) comes to town in 48 hours. Lets rest up and fly into SEC play at 11-1.

BTHO Buffalo