Despite a hot start, the Aggies dropped their opener of the Maui Jim Invitational against the Wisconsin Badgers, 69-58. The Aggies opened the game on a 16-4 run in the first 5 minutes, hitting 5 of their first 6 shots, including 4 from behind the arc. Offensively, the ball was movement was constant, creating open looks on the perimeter. This was compounded by the Ags swarming double teams, especially in the post. Texas A&M utilized their defense and transition game to drive a faster pace that kept the Badgers off balance and worked hard on the glass to keep the rebounding even against a much taller Wisconsin squad.
Texas A&M kept their double digit lead for the next ten minutes, extending it to as much as 16 points. The Aggies held a 33-20 point advantage with 5:00 remaining in the first half when the momentum started to change. The A&M offense stagnated as the ball movement slowed and turnovers plagued the Ags. Wisconsin started to find the open man out of the Aggies’ double teams, and their shots started to fall. Wisconsin’s size finally started to wear down the Ags on the interior, especially as the Henry Coleman and Ethan Henderson each picked up 2 fouls in the first half. The Badgers ended the final 4:41 of the first half on a 15-1 run and took a 35-34 lead into halftime.
Wisconsin came out of the break with all of the momentum and capitalized on that, extending their lead to 11 points just over 5 minutes into the second half. The hot shooting touch that the Aggies enjoyed in the first half cooled tremendously as the Badgers ramped up the defensive pressure. The Badger lead would extend as high as 16 points. A&M made a run in the final four minutes to get the game as close as 7 points, but the Badgers iced the game from the free throw line.
Both teams shot under 40% for the game; the Aggies finished the game shooting 38.8% from the field, while the Badgers were just a touch better at 39.0%. The biggest differences in the game were turnovers and rebounding. A&M turned the ball over 16 times, versus just 11 for the Badgers. Ten of those 16 Aggie turnovers came in the second half. The Badgers enjoyed a 36-29 advantage on the glass, but the story was the Wisconsin offensive boards where they gathered 11 rebounds leading to 15 second chance points. The Aggies only picked up 5 offensive rebounds, leading the 5 second chance points.
Maui Jim Invitational Game 2 - Butler Bulldogs
The Aggies will face the Butler Bulldogs on the consolation side of the bracket today (Tuesday 11/23) at 1:30 PM CT on ESPN2. Butler currently sits at 3-2, coming off of back-to-back losses to Michigan State and #12 Houston.
DraftKings Sportsbook has the Aggies as 2.5-point favorites* for this matchup.
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
This will certainly be an interesting game as the Aggies and Bulldogs are mirror images of each other in many regards. Both teams feature balanced offenses with good shooters that play at a slower pace and are plagued by turnovers. Both teams are more backcourt oriented, featuring a bevy of guards and forwards. The Aggies are statistically the better defense, and this should be the difference in the game. I would also look for Boots Radford, Ethan Henderson, and Henry Coleman to have a big presence in the rebounding department.
Butler is led in scoring by the triumvirate of Jair Bolden, Chuck Harris, and Jayden Taylor, each averaging in double digits per game. Ty Groce and Bryce Nze are the primary inside threats in both scoring and rebounding.
I’m expecting Buzz to have the Aggies ready to play after the letdown yesterday. I believe that his emphasis for the team will be winning the rebounding battle and executing the offensive game plan for 40 minutes. If the Ags can do those things, they should come away with a win.