This was a legitimately good win.
Alabama had a big lead and everything to play for, and we thoroughly outplayed them over the last 12 minutes. It was one of our best stretches of basketball all year.
A Horrid First Half
This looked like the win at Mizzou, redux. That’s not necessarily a great thing, because it means we put ourselves in a hole with some horrendous early offensive play.
I can already hear the questions. “How bad could it be?” “Don’t we do this all the time?” “Shouldn’t we be numb to long stretches of offensive ineptitude?”
Friends, we had 11 points on the board with seven minutes remaining in the first half. We shot 26% from the field and 15% from the beyond the arc. Had it not been for our free throw shooting (8-9), we very well could have had a half in the teens.
Our ability to stick around early was nothing short of a miracle.
Halftime Score: Alabama 30, Texas A&M 24
More Nothing... But Then Everything
The second half started without too much fuss. We did tie the game at 32, but the Tide responded with a 12-0 run that gave them a 44-32 lead with 12:28 remaining. It certainly looked like more of the same was headed our way. Which made our final twelve minutes all the more fascinating.
Facing a double digit deficit at home, and with (relatively) nothing to play for… we crushed Alabama 33-12 over the final twelve minutes and cruised home to victory. Flagg was the engine for most of that run (and the reason we didn’t drift away early), and Mitchell closed the show with nine consecutive points in the last four minutes.
Final Score: Texas A&M 65, Alabama 56
- Flagg was the MVP of this game. He had 18 points and 9 rebounds in 37 minutes, and he was the driving force behind our team for the first 36 minutes. At one point, he was 7-12 and the rest of the team combined was 7-29. He’s averaging 15 and 7 in our recent 3-1 stretch, and he’s a huge reason we’re seeing some success late in the year.
- We did the majority of our damage with Starks off the floor. TJ had some injury trouble in the second half, and it didn’t seem to slow us down at all. This isn’t a knock on anyone - I’m only framing it as a positive. Learning to string together good possessions without TJ on the floor is good for this team.
- We were 15-16 from the line. If you make your free throws, life gets a little easier.
- Mitchell got to 18 points, as is tradition. This one was a little brutal, as it took 17 shots for him to get there, but he did put it together when we needed it most. And his dagger three to kill the game was a thing of beauty.
Three wins out of four, y’all.
I know this stretch is unlikely to change anyone’s opinion about the coaching regime, as our first two-thirds of the season were truly THAT dire, but it’s always nice to see improvement. We’re figuring out our lineup combinations, and we’ve identified a style that at least seems likely to keep us in ballgames. And even when we’re out of contention for every conceivable postseason tournament... our guys give a shit.
4-9 isn’t where we want to be, but it could be worse.