The Aggies faced off against Buzz Williams and the Virginia Tech Hokies this afternoon in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy Tournament. The Hokies were fresh off a dominant win over New Mexico in their opening round game and looked like they may be a surprise in the ACC this season. After the first 20 minutes against the Aggies today, that talk was only getting louder. The first half was an ugly one for the Aggies.
There really isn't anything positive to talk about during those 20 minutes, so just assume the first takeaway is the Aggies have to find a way to overcome slow starts. The Hokies were shooting lights out to start the game, and the Aggies couldn't buy a bucket. There needs to be either a commitment to the Tyler Davis game plan from the opening tip, or there needs to be an adjustment to the starting lineup (more on this later). From there, things got interesting. The Ags slowly but surely closed in on the Hokies lead by upping the attention to the paint, clearing the boards (Ags out-rebounded the Hokies by 19), and a big cool off from the Hokies three point shooters. Tyler Davis, DJ Hogg, and Robert Williams were clutch down the stretch for the Aggies, and proved to be the difference in a game the Aggies really needed to have on the good side of their resume come Selection Sunday.
1. DJ Hogg is becoming a star
Just look at those last two shots from DJ Hogg in the highlights above. Those are the jumpshot equivalent of sex. Hogg's transition from a spot up shooter to a player that can create for himself off the stepback and off the dribble has the potential to be a game changer for what the Aggies can achieve this season. I also have to mention that those jumpers will have NBA scouts drooling when they watch film on Hogg. Hogg had 17 points and 10 rebounds today and was 3-5 from deep. The tournament championship game isn't until Sunday night, but DJ Hogg is currently the front runner for tournament MVP.
2. Robert Williams just keeps getting better
This guy is good, and he keeps getting better with each game he gets under his belt. Williams was a key part of the comeback and eventual victory for the Aggies. He finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds, and was a force on the defensive end that held the Hokies in a nice little scoring drought during the comeback. I don't think it needs to happen before the tournament championship game since he won't have much practice with the starters, but Williams is playing himself into a starting role. There's a bit of a trade-off if you replace Trocha with Williams, but your starting five is simplly more dominant if Williams is the starting PF. How good is he starting to look:
Time to move Texas A&M freshman Robert Williams up the draft board.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) November 25, 2016
3. We closed out a game...PERFECTLY
Seriously. There's nothing I can be critical of in regards to how the Aggies closed out the final two minutes. Okay there was missing the front end of the one-and-one late, but unfortunately I just expect us to suck at free throws now (the Aggies were 3-8 from the line today). Two well designed and well executed plays was really nice to see. The really impressive part was the strategy on defense. With a foul to give, Admon Gilder quickly fouled 3/4 of the way up the court to stop a fast break. Then, up by three points with a couple of seconds remaining, the Aggies fouled again as soon the ball was inbounded to send Virginia Tech to the line for a one-and-one that would be missed and sealing the game for the Aggies. The strategy from Kennedy was simply perfect in the final two minutes of the game.