This one stung.
When the Aggies were headed for their second straight blowout loss, they submitted their best stretch of basketball of the season. And then, with all of the momentum in the world... they threw it away down the stretch.
The backbreaking news of Admon Gilder being out indefinitely (more on this later) was at least partially offset by the season debut of Wendell Mitchell, who effectively replaced Chris Collins in a like-for-like swap (Collins received a DNP).
The first half looked an awful lot like the Gonzaga game, where we really weren’t playing well and almost seemed to beg the opposition to pull away. Minnesota was happy to comply, dropping first half shots at a 50% clip and establishing a ten point lead.
When the halftime break mercifully arrived, our early shooting had been abysmal and we had significant foul trouble in the post. Things weren’t looking great.
Halftime score: Minnesota 36, Texas A&M 26
Minnesota held us at bay with little fuss for the opening ten minutes of the second half. We were down eleven and staring at a 1-3 start and a season that was truly in danger of spiraling out of control.
It was in this context that we submitted our best basketball of the season.
The defense came together, the ball movement was crisp, and we actually strung together a few made shots. The end result was a 20-6 run and a three point lead with five minutes remaining, and we had legitimate positive basketball momentum for the first time all season.
Which, of course, is exactly when it all fell apart. Minnesota dropped into a 2-3 zone for the most critical possessions of the game, and we reacted like someone asked us to pilot an alien spaceship. The passing was lazy, the off-ball movement was non-existent, and the decision-making was truly, truly awful... and in our last four possessions we missed a pair of long 3-pointers late in the shot clock and committed a pair of turnovers.
Minnesota seized the opportunity and closed it out.
Final Score: Minnesota 69, Texas A&M 64
- Brandon Mahan and Christian Mekowulu were excellent last night. Mahan scored 15 points in the second half and was the driving force behind our late rally, while Mekowulu was consistently solid on both ends for the duration of his 27 minutes.
- The three point shooting... was not there, yet again. We were 3-15 (20%) from downtown, dropping our season percentage to 22.2%. For those wondering, that ranks 341st out of 353 Division I teams. And this system is based on shooting.
- Wendell Mitchell was rusty. He was 0-8 from the field and didn’t really add a ton anywhere else. We need him to get up to speed, and soon.
- The battle for our second big man was fascinating. Nebo was plauged by foul trouble and was effectively a non-factor, which opened the door for big-time minutes for Jasey and Walker. In a bit of a surprise, Jasey definitively won that battle and was really effective in his eight minutes off the bench. I’d like to pull on that thread and get him some more time.
This is us at full strength, gang. The loss of Admon Gilder is almost impossible to overstate, and it puts us in a really difficult position moving forward.
Next up is the final game of the Vancouver Showcase against Washington tomorrow night. The Huskies were a fringe ranked team in the preseason, but they have failed to impress in their opening four games. We need this one.