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Preview: Texas A&M vs. Kansas State

The Aggies host the hottest team in the Big XII in the annual Big XII / SEC Challenge (1:00pm; ESPN)

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 1:00pm

Place: Reed Arena

TV: ESPN

Line: Kansas State by 4

Advanced Metrics via KenPom: Texas A&M has a 34% chance to win

Expectations were extremely low when we traveled to Florida on Tuesday night, which made our nine point road loss in Gainesville a little easier to swallow. Our effort level was much higher on both ends of the court, we carved Florida apart to the tune of 46 first-half points, and it took an otherworldly shooting performance by the Gators to flip the script and grab the W.

Now, we return back to the scene of our previous crimes.

Reed Arena has been a house of horrors for this team, as we have lost our last four played in this building. What’s worse, only one of the four (a 73-71 loss to Arkansas) could be considered a remotely acceptable performance. Meanwhile, we’ve looked pretty darn good away from home in all but one game (@ Gonzaga) this year.

Can we finally channel that energy at home? I hope so, because the Wildcats are rolling.

Results of Note

The scheduling gods granted us a random Saturday contest against the hottest team in the Big XII. The Wildcats are currently 5-2 in conference play and are tied for first with Kansas… but that doesn’t tell the whole story. They started 0-2 and they’ve won five straight, their last three by double digits.

They didn’t exactly challenge themselves in non-conference, but they smacked Vanderbilt and Missouri when given the chance. An ugly loss at Tulsa is the only blemish on an otherwise sterling overall resume.

Things to Watch

Like Florida, the Wildcats slow the game down and rely on their defense to win games. And what a defense it is, ranking 4th overall in defensive efficiency and Top 50 in just about every category of significance. It is not a stretch to call this the best, most complete defense we will see this year.

Offensively… this thing is a train wreck. And when I say train wreck, I mean that their offensive metrics are “Texas A&M” bad. Home builders, beware… spare bricks can be had at a cheap price this afternoon.

Overall Thoughts

It is becoming increasingly difficult to assess this team.

If we continue our normal nonsense at home, the Wildcats will snuff the life out of us defensively and we’ll claw our way to an ugly 50 points in defeat. But if we play with the confidence, swagger, and energy we had in the first half at Gainesville… we can win this game. As bizarre as it sounds, we still do have that ceiling. The trick is showing up for more than 20 minutes at a time.

BTHO Kansas State