The Aggies are heading into SEC play as the #5 team in the country. A top 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament is there for the taking. The players just have to stay healthy and, well, not suspended. That being said, Savion Flagg should be starting for Aggie Basketball over DJ Hogg once Hogg returns from his suspension. There may be some clarity in the cloud of smoke surrounding Hogg’s second suspension of the season, this suspension coming right before a very critical start to conference play for the team. Hogg will have to sit out for first two conference games against Alabama and Florida. Most Aggie fans were understandably concerned when news of the suspension first dropped, Now, maybe it just helped introduced a star freshman to the scene.
Here’s what we know. Savion Flagg has averaged 17 points and 9 rebounds in his last two games games, earning SEC Freshman of the Week in the process.
Anyone that watched either of those two games could easily identify the aggressiveness of Flagg as a key reason the Aggies were able to come out on top during the holiday break. The other key player in those two games: Duane Wilson. Wilson is coming off his best week of the season with Savion Flagg in the starting lineup. The team is noticeably tougher and more aggressive getting to the rim with Flagg and Wilson in the same rotation, something that has been absent for Aggie basketball against weaker opponents and in big road games. The Aggies’ SEC opener is on the road against Alabama.
Now before you think this is all just an attack on Hogg, hang with me for a second. Tipping off the game with a starting five that can aggressively attack the rim gives your team a huge advantage in college basketball. Five fouls only goes so far, and the majority of college teams don’t have a stacked bench of scoring bigs that can come off the bench when their starters get in foul trouble. Your big guys get two fouls in the first 5-8 minutes of the game and they will quickly find themselves sitting on the bench for the next 12-15 minutes of game time, or close to an hour in normal time when consider the halftime break. You can effectively take your opponent’s best big men out of the game by being aggressive in the paint to start the game. Teams have definitely done it to the Aggies more than a few times.
So let’s say that foul trouble situation does happen to the Aggies. Trocha-Morelos can come off the bench and can provide a scoring threat at the 4/5 position, but not with great consistency. What if the Aggies had Hogg available to come off the bench and provide 20-25 minutes a game, or more in foul trouble situations? Hogg is averaging 30 minutes per game this season, the most of his career. Bringing Hogg’s 50% three point shooting, 76% free throw shooting, and 7 rebounds off the bench is something that every SEC team except from Kentucky wouldn’t have the depth to contest.
Savion Flagg has shown he can provide a big lift for the Aggies. I think it’s time for him to grab some starting minutes from Hogg, even after Hogg is back from his suspension.