We got there… eventually.
The opening eight minutes were about as dull of a home environment as you could possibly imagine, but we did eventually turn things around. A loss to 0-15 Vanderbilt is no way to christen Senior Night, after all.
The Worst Start Yet
The phrase “worst start yet” is not I use lightly for Texas A&M Basketball. We have had some true stinkers coming out of the gate, but they all paled in comparison to this nugget: Vanderbilt took leads of 11-0 and 20-8 in a cavernously empty Reed Arena.
In terms of energy, effectiveness, and support… it was about as bad as it gets. But as the black knight once said, “‘tis but a scratch.”
We played (relatively) better in the latter portion of the half, and energy slowly started to creep back into the building. We never once took the lead before the break, but we did at least push the deficit to one a couple of times. And when the halftime whistle blew, it felt like it was good enough considering that we shot under 40% from the field, the line, and beyond the arc. We are nothing if not consistent.
Halftime Score: Vanderbilt 29, Texas A&M 25
Flagg and Mekowulu Took Us Home
The second half was less an exercise in us exerting our will, and more a function of 0-15 Vanderbilt reverting to form while we improved marginally. The Commodores kept the game close down the stretch, but Flagg and Mekowulu always had a play ready when we had to have something. Without them, we would have lost this game.
Final Score: Texas A&M 64, Vanderbilt 57
- Mekowulu really stepped it up with 19 points and 12 boards (7 offensive) on 7-14 shooting. He struggled at the line a bit, going 0-5 from the stripe in the first half, but he recovered to hit 5-6 after the break.
- Flagg took 21 shots tonight, easily his largest number of the season, but that kinda makes sense in the absence of TJ Starks. He didn’t get to the line, which is really odd for him, but his efficiency from the field (10-21) was good enough to make the high volume worthwhile. And yet again, he put forth a really really good effort on the boards (12). His ability to rebound above his size is perhaps the most pleasant development on our roster this season.
- Collins and French gave us 33 combined minutes, and they were fine. Their instructions seemed pretty clear (try to get Flagg/Mekowulu/Mitchell in a good scoring position and get out of the way), and they did a good job on that front. That’s a pretty heavy dose of walk-on (err, former walk-on) minutes, and we absorbed it well enough.
- While we’re on that line of conversation, Mekowulu/Mitchell/Flagg combined to attempt 50 of our 63 field goals and 17 of our 19 free throws. It, umm, probably isn’t going to be too difficult to scout us as we come down the stretch.
Today was about avoiding disaster. This win was not going to move the needle, but it’s a win I’m glad we grabbed all the same.
We’re sitting at 6-10 with two games remaining, and we have an outside shot at clearing the dreaded “bottom four” opening night of the SEC tournament. When you consider our 1-8 start to the conference slate, that would be quite an accomplishment.
It’s still not where we want to be, but this 5-2 record down the stretch says a lot about the character of the guys on this roster.
Next up is South Carolina at home on Tuesday night.
BTHO South Carolina