Damnit, that was a fun game. UCLA showed why so many people were calling them one of the more explosive teams in the country. All it takes is a couple of bad possessions and they will stretch the lead on you insanely fast. The Aggies had two bad stretches in this game that started with turnovers. The first was in the first half, and the second was in the last two minutes of the game. UCLA capitalized on two turnovers at the end by draining to big time three pointers to put the game on ice for the Bruins.
The bottom line, hanging tight against UCLA in Anaheim isn't anything to be upset about. The Aggies had their chances to take the championship home with them, but UCLA simply stepped up and played better when it mattered the most after trading leads late. UCLA is going to be a fun team to watch the rest of the season. They play a lot of young guys that are ridiculously talented and starting to play with some swagger. With all of that said, you can be sure this Aggies team won't go away during games this season. These guys are fighters and just refused to go away against runs by UCLA tonight and Virginia Tech on Friday.
Before the three takeaways, congratulations to Tyler Davis on being named to the All-Tournament team!
The rotations got a lot tighter tonight. There was only one time in the game, about midway through the first half, where you could be pretty confident points weren't going up on the board. The second half featured a lineup that could do some damage when Gilder, Hogg, Trocha-Morelos, Williams, and Davis were all on the floor together. "Could" do some damage, but they didn't do much damage tonight. That was the first time seeing that rotation, but I think we'll see a lot more of it going forward. This is where the depth becomes a big problem for the Aggies this season. There are a whole lot of days between now and the SEC Tournament, and that's a lot of minutes for this rotation to try to withstand.
2. The big guys are there
The big men are there for the Aggies. Davis, Trocha-Morelos, and Williams are all playing really well. Like really well, there isn't much you could ask them to do outside of where their level of play already is. The one thing I'd like to see is more aggressiveness getting them an entry pass on the first look. It's long been a trend in college hoops for guards to hesitate on making the entry pass to the post, so don't hold your breath waiting for that to change. The GBH hoops team has written plenty about this team only going as far as the guard play takes them, and tonight showed that loud and clear. Gilder had a great second half to finish with 17, but Hogg was ice cold from the floor tonight shooting 4-18, and Hampton only added in 3 points. Meanwhile, UCLA has three guards that could all play pretty much at any school in the country. The depth at the guard spot simply isn't there for the Aggies this season, and these struggles will certainly pop up a few times throughout the long college hoops season.
3. Kennedy has a big recruitment ahead of him
And the player he needs to recruit is currently on the roster. Robert Williams is just flat out far more polished than anyone outside of the team and staff expected. Earlier this week I said he was playing himself into the starting rotation. Now the true freshman is playing himself further up NBA draft boards with each game. First-rounder money is something you absolutely chase if that's where you're being scored, but the Aggies desperately need the depth on the roster that he provides. More importantly, Williams is going to only get better and has the potential to be a big time start in college basketball. Coach Kennedy will have some recruiting work to do with Williams when the season is over.