Y’all, this was impressive.
Vanderbilt lost NBA prospect Aaron Nesmith to injury prior to this game, but that doesn’t take away from this performance. Texas A&M Basketball was dominant from the opening tip, and we never took our foot off the gas.
When Chuck Mitchell pulled up from 25 feet and drilled our first three point attempt of the afternoon, optimism started kicking in. When Andre Gordon followed shortly afterwards, I was pretty sure we were going to win. And when Jay Jay Chandler hit our third to push the lead to 19-9, I was ready to dial up the ‘98 Bulls and throw down the gauntlet.
Yes, friends... we started a basketball game 3-5 from beyond the arc. And it changed everything. Vanderbilt could no longer collapse, which opened up space we haven’t seen all season. With the exception of our home opener against Northwestern State, this was our single best half (15-28; 53.6%) of offensive basketball.
Special shouts to our half court trap. It flummoxed The Dores (as it should — we had rarely deployed it this season) and led to multiple easy baskets... pushing the lead as high as 28-12.
The lead never dipped below 14 again.
Halftime score: Texas A&M 36, Vanderbilt 20
This was a delight — highlight-worthy basketball with literally zero concern that the game was going to slip away. It’s the kind of thing you don’t expect to see in an SEC contest on the road.
Before I go any further, we’re going to take a second look at that Quenton Jackson dunk... as it may have forever altered the structural integrity of that stadium. My word.
what we were freaking out about: @_qwizzle | #GigEm https://t.co/WtirMWVYif pic.twitter.com/RSpthCdoSX— Texas A&M Basketball (@aggiembk) January 11, 2020
With the game out of hand, Mark French put a formal cap on the proceedings with our fifth and final three of the afternoon... pushing the lead to an absurd 59-28. Vanderbilt closed the game on a 22-10 run to make the scoreline slightly more respectable, but we all know what really happened here.
Final Score: Texas A&M 69, Vanderbilt 50
- Vanderbilt’s Saben Lee had a career-high 27 points in Vanderbilt’s four-point loss at Auburn on Wednesday Night... and we held him to four.
- Andre Gordon was our best offensive player, again. The teachable moments are still there, but they are much easier to handle on a day where he runs the show and grabs 15 points.
- We didn’t have a negative assist-to-turnover ratio! It’s not supposed to be this difficult to clear this bar, but we finally cleared it, and the offense (at least comparatively) was running like a well-oiled machine.
- The bench was excellent. Chandler, Jackson, French, and Yeezy combined for 28 points on 12-20 shooting, which helped us pull away early.
- A&M now sits in the Top 30 nationally in opposition shooting percentage and opposition PPG. In addition, we allowed 50 or fewer points in back to back conference games for the first time since the Billy Gillispie era, and only the second time since 1958.
- Domination down low. Pure domination. We had a big advantage in both rebounds (38-29) and points in the paint (40-18).
- This was our fourth straight win against Vanderbilt.
- Congrats to Josh Nebo, who grabbed is 250th career block yesterday.
This is a powerful comparison, but it’s one I can’t help but make: This squad is starting to bring back memories of Billy Gillispie’s 2004-2005 season. The toughness, effort, and defensive intensity have really turned this season around, and the result is a 2-1 SEC start that no one saw coming.
Next up is 3-0 LSU at home, and the students are back in town. If we can draw well in that game and put forth a good effort, it could send us flying towards a conference slate with much better attendance numbers. And to be honest, these guys deserve that.