College basketball is a tricky world, gang. Trickier than it used to be. These D2 cream puff games bring upsets far more often than they used to, so any comfortable win is great to see. We saw some new faces step up and play well, and we had a few “teachable moments” that probably won’t look great in the film room. But hey... if those are going to happen, let them happen during games that are never in doubt.
Let’s break it down.
We looked absolutely terrible to start this game, as a series of turnovers and defensive lapses allowed Northwestern State to claim an early lead. They hung around until the 12:00 mark, when we put together a 23-4 run that effectively killed the suspense for the evening. After five (FIVE!) turnovers in the opening four minutes, we started looking much more crisp on offense. That, in turn, fed the defense (which was no longer giving up transition buckets) and the entire operation started to look better.
Halftime Score: Texas A&M 38, Northwestern State 26
We did a much better job coming out of the break in the second half, eventually extending our 12 point halftime advantage to 21. But right as we were approaching an evening devoid of negative takeaways, our focus slipped. The Demons outscored us 24-10 over a six minute stretch in the second half, and what should have been “walk on territory” became a seven point game with three minutes remaining. To our credit, we played well down the stretch to close it out... but Buzz will not be happy with that lapse in concentration.
Final Score: Texas A&M 77, Northwestern State 63
- Savion Flagg was recently named to the Coaches All-SEC Second Team, and it’s easy to see why: 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists on 9/11 shooting. He was MVP of the game by a wide margin, and that was even after an uncharacteristically slow start. He played 35 minutes of quality defense as well, chipping in 3 blocks and 2 steals while avoiding foul trouble. Excellent all-around evening.
- Perhaps I was a little too quick to judge the new guys. In our season preview I anointed Emanuel Miller as a surefire rotation guy while burying Andre Gordon and Yavuz Gultekin on the pine, and the exact opposite rang true tonight. Miller played a mostly pedestrian 22 minutes, while Gordon and Gultekin were probably our best contributors off the bench. That’s nice to see, as we only played nine guys with Nebo and Starks injured.
- Rebounding is going to be a problem. Northwestern State is a far cry from the SEC front lines we’ll face this season, and they still managed 19 offensive rebounds on the evening.
Last year’s losses to UC Irvine and Texas Southern are still a little too fresh, so I’ll take any stress-free win... ever. It was nice to see Flagg cement his role as the team leader, and it was nice to see different faces contributing in our two data points to date.
Next game is at home, so set your calendars for Monday, November 11th.