This game really isn’t that hard. All you have to do is shoot.
We were legitimately hot today - not just hot by our ridiculously low standards. This is now four games running with a noticeable bump in our outside shooting, which gives me legitimate cause for optimism heading into SEC play.
TJ Starks did not start for the first time all season, and the early results were... not promising. The starting backcourt of Chander/Mahan/Mitchell was not short on defensive hustle, but it was quite short on offensive execution. The end result was a choppy, uninspiring first half where Marshall opened leads of 20-15 and 27-24 as we approached the break.
To our credit, we flipped the game over the last six minutes of the first half, closing on a 17-6 run that was fueled by offensive rebounding and (gasp!) three point shooting.
Halftime Score: Texas A&M 41, Marshall 33
Putting Things on Ice
I really liked our response coming out of the break: A 10-2 run to push the lead to 16 and effectively announce that our early game nonsense was behind us. Marshall kept the game in that range through the middle portion of the second half, but we never really allowed them a foothold to get back in the game.
We always had an answer, and we (almost always) had an offensive rebound waiting when our offense failed us. In the end, a late 10-0 run let us clear the bench and rest easy.
Final Score: Texas A&M 92, Marshall 68
- We were freaking dominant down low, with a 54-30 edge on the boards and a 58-24 points advantage in the paint. To be honest, I’m not sure how many times our Tyler Davis and Robert Williams frontcourt saw numbers like that.
- We didn’t settle for threes today. Which is good, because even after our recent uptick in shooting, we’re still ranked 318th in D1 from beyond the arc. Our eleven attempted threes were our fewest of the season, and our 3PT% (5-11; 45%) was our highest of the season. We gotta chase that feeling.
- We outscored Marshall 44-14 off the bench. These numbers were skewed by Starks coming off the bench, but we also had solid outings from Nebo (16) and Walker (9) on the afternoon.
Josh Nebo (16 points on 7-7 FG, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 assists, 0 fouls, 0 turnovers): These 19 minutes were the closest thing we’ve had to a perfect game from a Texas A&M player this season. I know I keep harping on this, but I have to come back to it... this guy plays his tail off and stays out of foul trouble. I can’t stress how important that is with our current roster makeup.
Christian Mekowulu (17 points on 5-7 FG/6-7 FT, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks): Christian was heavily involved for the second game running. Earlier in the season he had to survive on offensive rebounds and various table scraps, but now we’re feeding him the ball with purpose. I can’t help but think that his effectiveness down low is aided by the fact that we are no longer clanking threes at an alarming rate.
Brandon Mahan (12 points on 5-7 FG w/2-3 3PT): Put simply, Mahan is becoming the player we need him to be. Today’s efforts bump him to 10-16 from deep in his last four games, good for an astonishing 62.5%. He’s good enough defensively, and he’s good enough on the glass, but this is where he makes his mark.
Y’all, we’re playing some good basketball.
Marshall and Valparaiso are solid, respected programs... and we took both to the woodshed. These are games we were expected to win, sure, but the style and ruthlessness of these two wins has really impressed me.
Texas Southern comes to town on 12/29, and if we can take care of business in that one, we’ll fly into SEC play on a six game winning streak.
BTHO Texas Southern