Well who saw this coming?
The Aggies got significant contributions from the bench, they bucked down on defense, and they [checks notes] hit their threes and free throws?
[checks notes again; confirms accuracy]
Perhaps all is not lost, after all.
Threes for Days
Most teams wouldn’t write home about this effort from beyond the arc (7-17; 41%), but when we hit the 40% barrier we bust out our finest stationary and tell the world.
As you might imagine, this represented a significant uptick in our shooting stats, and for the first time all year our opponent was forced to respect our abilities from beyond the arc. We took advantage to get to the rim all evening, notching a 32-18 advantage in the paint. That advantage was especially impressive when you consider our 20-11 deficit on the offensive boards.
Finally, just for grins, we were 14-17 from the line (83%). We shot the ball well on an evening where we had to have it.
TJ Starks Came Back
I’ve been critical of Starks this season, but I’ll gladly eat crow today in light of this performance. Starks was fantastic.
It wasn’t just his scoring, though... he seemed truly interested in getting his teammates involved. Oregon State couldn’t stop him from getting to the paint at will, but he showed impressive restraint after beating the first man. Where “early season” Starks would have forced a shot as the defensive help came across, “last night” Starks was willing (and able) to hit the open man.
He was a little careless late in the game, which marred his final statline... but make no mistake: He was the catalyst, and the single biggest reason we won this basketball game.
Spectacular Bench Contributions
Flagg, Chandler, and Mekowulu didn’t really have it offensively, but our bench played great and outscored the Oregon State reserves 26-8.
Chuck Mitchell: 28 solid minutes on both ends and 3-6 from downtown (which is basically worthy of canonization with this crew).
John Walker: Completely filled out the stat sheet. 2-2 from the field, 5-5 from the line, three rebounds, a block, and a steal.
Josh Nebo: The SEC blocks leader grabbed two more rejections last night, adding six points and three boards. But perhaps most importantly, he gave us 19 tough minutes down low without picking up a foul. Given our lack of frontcourt depth, that was critical.
I’ll level with y’all - Oregon State wasn’t great last night, particularly down the stretch. But we put ourselves in position to take advantage of the situation, and we made enough plays down the stretch to pull it off.
We’re looking at three winnable home games to close out the non-conference slate before our SEC opener against Arkansas. Next up is Valparaiso on Wednesday night.
Let’s close out December strong and fly into SEC play with a little momentum.