Stop me if you’ve heard this before -- we started the game playing some truly atrocious offensive basketball before pulling out of our tailspin at the last possible moment to grab a win in a home game against an overmatched opponent. I know it sounds like an oddly specific scenario, but this is now the third time this has happened in our first nine games.
The young guys continued to show improvement, which is the primary goal this season, but this is yet another data point indicating a truly brutal SEC slate.
I hate this part of the article, and it’s not even January. How should I describe our early ineptitude this time? Should I simply copy/paste my earlier frustrations? Should I explain my anguish through the majesty of gifs? Should I give it all up and become a dancer?
All fair choices, but duty dictates that I force-feed you the following: 34% from the field, 20% from beyond the arc, and a big ol’ pile of poor defensive rotations that allowed one player to drain six threes in a half.
Until further notice, take some friendly advice and don’t bother until halftime.
Halftime Score: TAMU-CC 31, Texas A&M 24
We stumbled out of the break and found ourselves down eleven to the 298th ranked team in the nation… which was apparently the slap in the face these guys needed. What followed was some legitimately improved basketball on both ends of the floor, and two freshmen were pulling the strings. Andre Gordon and Emanuel Miller played their best ball of the season in this period, and the Aggies found themselves in a tight game down the stretch.
Down The Stretch
Yes, it stinks that a “down the stretch” section is necessary for a home game against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. It really does. But we DID learn some things in crunch time that we can use moving forward. Namely, that our Nebo/Miller/Flagg/Chandler/Gordon unit can get pretty salty on the defensive end.
The defining moments in the game were calls made by the officials, as a truly abysmal over-the-back call on Miller was offset by a (tugs collar) completely legitimate travelling call on TAMU-CC. In the end, the only drama came at the free throw line, and we did enough to pass the test.
Final Score: Texas A&M 63, TAMU-CC 60
- Emanuel Miller improved again after last week’s stellar performance against Texas, dropping 20 points on 7-8 shooting and cementing his role as the second forward opposite Nebo. This pushes Flagg to the perimeter, which appears to help us defensively. However...
- This development comes at the expense of Chuck Mitchell, who only played seven minutes. Early turnovers and missed defensive rotations gave him the early hook, and that was all she wrote.
- Josh Nebo continues to give us everything we could ask for. He played 30+ minutes for the 4th time this year, crashing the glass and protecting the rim while shooting at a clip well over 50%. Whatever your thoughts are early in this season, this ain’t on him.
- A few lineup trends have emerged, as “pairs” of players appear to be subbing exclusively for one another. French/Gordon (Point), Nebo/Aku (Center), and Chandler/Jackson (Wing) have rarely been on the floor at the same time.
- Flagg was better today. He wasn’t our MVP, but he was active on the boards and rarely made a bad read offensively. His shooting (4-12) wasn’t stellar, but he was trusting his instincts for the first time in a while, and that’s the guy we need as the business end of the schedule approaches.
- Sound the alarm! We won another rebounding battle, en route to a season-high 17 second-chance points.
- Sound the alarm again! We cut down on our turnovers, posting a season low (12).
- Yet again, we shot much better (11-23; 47%) in the second half. If someone wants to crudely paint SECOND HALF over the Reed Arena scoreboard, that would be great.
Buzz on Emanuel Miller and Josh Nebo
[...] in the last two games, he [Miller] and Nebo have established a distinct role. It’s a role that we’re dependent on. 33 points and 19 rebounds. That’s very efficient. I think that’s the most points that a freshman has scored here at a while, and last week was the most rebounds a freshman had had in a while. I’m encouraged for sure about both of those guys. We need to somehow figure out how we can keep those guys trending in that direction [...]
Miller on the early second-half deficit
There wasn’t a panic, just more of an urgency to fight. We know that being down 11 at home, our crowd is going to be right behind us, and our coaches are going to be behind us. We have all the support in the world right now, and we know that being down 11 just gives us another opportunity to fight. And that’s what me and my teammates did.
Buzz on Mitchell’s decreased playing time
”He was the most positive guy on the bench from start to finish. I said that to him three times in the locker room. I could hear his voice the whole time [...] the intent of his heart, 1,000-percent, is for Texas A&M. In that stretch of five turnovers, he had two of them. Then in the second half, because we’re down 11, and because we’re not turning it over, I didn’t even play him. And the whole second half, he’s the most positive guy. Again, it just speaks to how he was raised. He’s a guy that I want to play, and entering tonight’s game, I think he had played more minutes than anybody else. I want to play him, but at some point we’ve got to quit turning the ball over. And at some point, we’ve got to get more opportunities at the rim. And Eman [Emanuel Miller] has given us more opportunities, along with what [Josh] Nebo has done. That moves Savion [Flagg] full-time to the perimeter [...] so there’s less minutes on the perimeter. But as far as his spirit, and who he is, and what he’s about, I have the utmost respect.”
The early ugliness from this game had people asking some uncomfortable questions, but the guys pulled it out and put our four-game losing streak to an end. Big victories may be tough to come by this season, so we have to look for little victories. Like when freshmen (Miller and Gordon) establish themselves in big moments. Or when early pain points (like rebounding and turnovers) get noticeably better.
That’s the theme of the season, friends, and it hasn’t changed. Oregon State comes to town next Saturday.
BTHO Oregon State