It wasn't pretty, but it was effective. Enough. The Ags wrapped up their non-conference schedule with a 58-49 victory over Hartford, avoiding the dreaded "RPI crippling loss" for the first time in the Kennedy era. In the grand scheme of things, that isn't much. But it's a start.
Here's what we learned:
1) This team still plays to the level of their competition
OK, so this isn't exactly a new lesson. But it bears repeating. The Aggies have repeatedly failed to put their lesser opponents away early, and the result has been a series of nervy second halves that we could have avoided. Now, the plus side. Every time a weaker team has given us a run, we've held our resolve. I'd prefer if we didn't have to go through this, but at least we've answered the bell.
2) Our shooters are streaky. Even by shooter standards.
It was a cold, cold night in Reed Arena
- Danuel House (3-12, 0-6 3PT)
- Davonte Fitzgerald (1-5, 0-2 3PT)
- Actually, everybody (Team 19-50, 0-13 3PT)
We literally couldn't hit a shot from the outside. Not white girl literally... actual literally. We had zero made threes. On thirteen attempts.
But again, I'll give credit where credit is due here. We stopped banging our head against that brick wall and started forcing the ball inside against an outmatched opponent. The results were effective, with the big guys doing most of the damage on the afternoon.
- Kourtney Roberson (4-7, 10 points)
- Jalen Jones (4-7, 12 points)
3) Alex Caruso finds a way to contribute. Like always.
I'm not sure what else to say about this guy. He, like the others, was bitten pretty severely by the outside shooting bug... but he adjusted his game to keep the offense moving.
Ten assists (to only two turnovers) eight rebounds, and five steals. He's a swiss army knife wrapped in an enigma, all stuffed into a burrito of versatility.
The Ags start conference play at a salty Alabama squad on Wednesday night before a huuuuuuge home game against against #1 Kentucky on Saturday. How do you see week #1 going for the good guys?