This Saturday, Texas A&M basketball looks to reach 5-0 in conference play, a feat that neither Billy Gillispie nor Mark Turgeon were able to reach. The Aggies ride into Athens on a 7-game win streak with their last 3 victories coming by a combined 8 points. The past week and a half has had a little bit of everything.
Versus Mississippi State, A&M dealt with not having one of their go-to scorers and the entire roster having a cold shooting night.
Versus Tennessee, the Aggies needed a 15-1 scoring run to overcome a 10-point deficit with 4 minutes left as well as surviving a near game-losing 3-pointer as time ran out.
Versus Florida, the Ags held off a Gator team that just would not go away and escaped a near-disaster at the end when a fumbled inbounds turned to a missed game-tying 3 as time expired.
They have not come easy, but the Ags have held strong and now sit atop the SEC standings with the only undefeated conference record. The Georgia Bulldogs enter Saturday's matchup coming off one of their best games offensively against Tennessee. The Bulldogs currently reside a little outside of the tournament bubble (#64 RPI ranking), beating the teams they're expected to beat but have come up short in true resume-building games. They'll look to buck the trend against the Aggies who entered the top-10 in RPI after their victory Tuesday against Florida.
Here are some keys to look out for...
Defending the 3
The last couple of games on defense, A&M's opponents have gotten hot from beyond the arc. Tennessee could not miss for much of the game, thwarting nearly every A&M comeback attempt with 3-pointers until finally going cold near the end. Florida, ranked last in the SEC in 3-point %, had one of their best shooting games of the year, hitting 10 from long range.
The Ags prey on creating turnovers that lead to transitions points, but at times have left opponents with wide-open long range shots. Georgia is average on offense (72 ppg), but have a pair of players in J.J. Frazier and Kenny Gaines that can light up from 3-point land at any given moment (43% and 42% from 3, respectively). The two showed how dangerous they could be against Tennessee, scoring a combined 23 points in a 25-6 2nd half run that lead to the Bulldogs 81-72 victory.
With the home crowd behind them, Frazier and Gaines may gain some steam, leading to another nail-biting finish.
Big Time Game from Danuel House
Shooting slump and tough shots but I promise I will get it all better for my teams sake and mine so we can win big!!!!— DanuelHou23 (@Danuel23House) January 13, 2016
Jalen Jones has been the talk of the town as of last game, and rightfully so, but when both he and House are on their A-game, this Aggie team is close to unstoppable. Look for House to be dialed in and be on the attack early.
I wrote in the Instant Reaction of the Florida game that the freshman class seems to be in a bit of a slump. Tyler Davis' FG% has dropped (8-26 shooting in SEC games), and the combination of DJ Hogg and Admon Gilder has been invisible on offense at times.
One of the biggest strengths of this year's team is its depth, but lately the seniors have been shouldering much of the burden on offense. It is still early in conference play so the freshmen may be in an adjustment period as opponents get more aggressive and have more game film on them. This freshman class will need to adjust and step up if the Aggies want to contend for a SEC championship.
Who: @ Georgia Bulldogs (9-5, 2-2 in SEC)