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Know Your Gig 'Em Rival: Texas A&M

Don't forget to post your trifecta picks!

Texas A&M: 15-6, 4-3

Points Per Minute
1.82 1.62
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.10 0.97
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.34 1.18
2-PT FG% 51.3% 44.5%
3-PT FG% 31.9% 33.5%
FT% 65.2% 69.1%
True Shooting % 54.5% 50.9%
Assists/Gm 12.3 11.7
Steals/Gm 6.4 5.5
Turnovers/Gm 11.3 14.8
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.65 1.16
Expected Offensive Rebounds/Gm 12.3 12.5
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 11.8 11.6
Difference -0.5 -0.9

Ken Pomeroy Stats

ATM Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
ATM Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 43 9 MU
Effective FG% 121 27 MU
Turnover % 18 1 Push
Off. Reb. % 174 320 ATM Big
FTA/FGA 4 191 ATM Big
MU Offense vs ATM Defense Ranks
MU Offense ATM Defense Advantage
Efficiency 41 65 MU
Effective FG% 64 85 MU
Turnover % 39 132 MU
Off. Reb. % 110 144 MU
FTA/FGA 241 167 ATM

A&M plays a slooooooooooow pace (243rd in the country), and I'm sure they'll try to do the same tomorrow night with a small (8-man) rotation.  However, it is a LOT harder to slow Mizzou down at Mizzou Arena than it is on the road, and if the crowd is into it and Mizzou is making some shots, ATM could end up going a lot faster than they feel comfortable doing.

Where the Aggies are strongest

  1. They get to the line. How does ATM have a Top 50 offense despite awful 3-point shooting (239th in the country), egregious free throw shooting (275th), less-than-impressive passing numbers (255th in Assists-per-Field-Goals-Made), and only average offensive rebounding ability?  Two things: they don't turn the ball over, and they get to the line.  Repeatedly.  Enough to compensate for their poor FT shooting.  Neither of their main guards -- Donald Sloan and Dash Harris -- shoot over 40% from 3-point line, but they drive and draw contact all game long.  Sloan shoots 0.53 free throws per every field goal attempt (point of reference: Mizzou's only player over 0.5 is Keith Ramsey ... not a guard), and Dash Harris shoots 0.71.  Granted, he inexplicably only makes 46% of his free throws (odd, considering he makes 37% of his 3's), but still.

    Meanwhile, big man Bryan Davis almost goes one-for-one, shooting 0.93 FTs per FGA.  If your guards are quick enough to get even a half-step on their man, and if they keep their bodies in control, this is an extremely effective (and awful to watch) method of offense, especially against a Mizzou team that can get called for a lot of fouls.  If they're drawing contact, not only are they getting to the line a lot, but they're also drawing a lot of whistles and getting a lot of breathers.

  2. They don't turn the ball over. Despite the loss of Derrick Roland, ATM's backcourt plays in control most of the game.  Sloan does average 2.3 turnovers per game, but in 32 minutes, that's not bad.  And once again, he is one-upped by Harris, who not only gets to the line a lot, but averages only 1.3 turnovers per game while putting up 3.5 assists and 1.7 steals.  Harris is not much of a scorer (5.4 PPG), but he is a very dangerous asset against Mizzou's system.

    Oh yeah, and they foul a lot too.  You remember how Mizzou and KSU combined for 56 fouls and 63 free throws a few weeks ago?  In the next game, KSU and ATM combined for 53 fouls and 70 free throws.  I am REALLY not liking the 8pm tip-off for this one.

    (And seriously, does EVERY Wednesday game have to be at 8pm now? We can't throw a 7pm'er or two in there?  Can we do that for me, the guy who gets up stupid-early to write?)

Where they are weakest

  1. They are not a great rebounding team. When you think of A&M, you think of muscular, athletic play.  At least I do.  They have muscled Mizzou around to the tune of five consecutive wins in the series.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw that they don't rank in the Top 140 in either offensive or defensive rebounding.  Of all their strengths, this really is not one of them, and it could cost them an opportunity to take enough advantage of one of Mizzou's biggest weaknesses (defensive rebounding).  Bryan Davis is a hoss in the frontcourt, but the Ags only have one other player (David Loubeau) over 215 pounds.

  2. They are as thin as Oklahoma State was. Sort of, at least.  Without Roland, they run a strict, 8-man rotation, but they do it in a way that might benefit them.  Seven of the eight guys average at least 17 minutes a game, and the other averages 14.9.  All eight members contribute, meaning they could be okay if one person gets tired or in foul trouble.  They are deepest at the 3/4 positions, however.  They really only have three true guards and two true big men.

ATM's Season to Date

  • Wins vs KenPom's Top 200
    vs #22 Clemson (69-60)
    vs #31 Minnesota (66-65)
    #85 Nebraska (64-53)
    #86 Texas Tech (85-70)
    #92 Colorado (67-63)
    #98 Oklahoma (65-62)
    #108 Akron (74-62)
    at #128 SMU (80-68)
    #197 The Citadel (71-50)
    #200 North Texas (75-65)
  • Losses
    at #6 Texas (67-72, OT)
    vs #7 West Virginia (66-73)
    at #12 Kansas State (65-88)
    vs #36 New Mexico (81-84)
    at #52 Washington (64-73)
    at #55 Oklahoma State (69-76)

They're certainly battle-tested.  They have played eight games against Ken Pomeroy's top 55, all away from home, and have gone 2-6, with only one of the losses coming by double digits (their pummeling in Manhattan).  They don't have any big road wins, though they came close in Austin; they were the team that first punctured Texas' balloon a few weeks ago.  In all, they've played 12 games against the top 100, and ten of them have been decided by single digits.  The longer this game stays close, the better it is for ATM -- well-covered territory for them.

ATM Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Donald Sloan (6'3, 205, Sr.) 16.1 0.50 32.5 MPG, 18.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.3 TOPG
Bryan Davis (6'9, 250, Sr.) 12.0 0.50 24.2 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.1 APG, 1.9 TOPG
Dash Harris (6'1, 175, So.) 7.9 0.29 26.9 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 1.3 TOPG
David Loubeau (6'8, 230, So.) 7.5 0.36 20.6 MPG, 8.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG
B.J. Holmes (5'11, 175, Jr.) 6.8 0.29 23.5 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.7 TOPG
Nathan Walkup (6'7, 210, Jr.) 6.4 0.32 20.1 MPG, 6.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG
Khris Middleton (6'7, 215, Fr.) 5.5 0.31 17.9 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG
Naji Hibbert (6'6, 200, Fr.) 1.8 0.13 14.6 MPG, 2.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG
Derrek Lewis (6'5, 195, Jr.) 1.4 0.40 3.4 MPG, 1.7 PPG
Ray Turner (6'8, 220, Fr.) 0.4 0.07 5.6 MPG, 0.9 PPG, 1.3 RPG
Andrew Darko (6'1, 175, Jr.) 0.2 0.08 14 minutes
Chris Chapman (5'11, 175, Sr.) 0.9 0.66 4 minutes
James Blasczyk (7'0, 230, Fr.) 0.4 0.19 17 minutes
Shawn Schepel (6'3, 205, Jr.) 0.4 0.21 10 minutes
Marshall Carrell (6'9, 230, Jr.) -0.3 -0.16 7 minutes

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Again, this doesn't include Derrick Roland, who was averaging 10.5 PPG and 10.2 AdjGS/game.  Dash Harris and B.J. Holmes have filled in capably, though they both have well-defined pluses and minuses.  Harris' free throw shooting and general lack of scoring prowess (he only averages 0.16 shots per minute), along with Holmes poor BCI (1.25, which is poor for a guard) make them inconsistent contributors.

    For that matter, Sloan is a bit one-dimensional as well.  He is not much of a passer/ball-handler/ball-thief (1.18 BCI), and while he's a solid 3-point shooter (38%), he doesn't take many of them.  He drives and scores, and he does it very well.  If Mizzou can approximate what they did to James Anderson on Saturday -- where he caught fire for about a 7-minute span but wasn't much of a factor the other 33 minutes -- they should be in good shape, as Roland isn't as dangerous as Anderson.
  • I sear, both Sloan and Bryan Davis have been in College Station for 16 years.  And Davis looked 36 when he was a freshman.  Davis is not really a go-to player on offense -- he's only taken more than 10 shots once this year -- but he is efficient, having scored in double digits in 6 of the last 8 games and averaging 1.53 points per shot.  That's not a supremely efficient number for a big man, but it's solid.  He's also one of the best shot-blockers in the Big 12.  He isn't Cole Aldrich, but he's good.  If Mizzou could get him into early foul trouble, that would be fantastic.
  • Just as KU has about four reserve guards that combine to make a dangerous player (you don't know who will kill you, but the odds are good that somebody -- Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, somebody, will), ATM has three swing players that combine to be pretty scary.  Nathan Walkup, Khris Middleton, and Naji Hibbert combine for 14+ points and 9+ rebounds in 52.6 minutes, so don't be surprised if one of those guys ends up in double digits.  Last year, Walkup made three 3-pointers that were key in ATM building a 22-point halftime lead against Mizzou.

Keys to the Game

  1. Pace.  In ATM's six wins over Ken Pomeroy's top 100, their opponents have scored 65 or fewer five times, and 70 or fewer all six.  This is not a high-pace team, and as long as they turn this game into a slow slog (few possessions, tons of free throws and breaks), they'll have a very good chance to break Mizzou's home winning streak.  But if Mizzou is making shots, pressing, etc., they could run ATM out of the building like Kansas State did.  I don't think Mizzou can suck ATM into a 73+ possession game, but if they can get in the 68-71 range, I like Mizzou's chances.

  2. The 3-pointer.  Last year, ATM made 6 of 11 3-pointers in the first half while jumping out to a big lead.  They are not a good 3-point shooting team, but anybody can get hot, and the 3 was the main reason that game got out of hand early.  Meanwhile, Mizzou has lived and died by the 3-ball this year, and it's pretty clear that, for better or worse, they will probably continue to do so.  Whoever gets hotter from long-range, especially in the first half, will likely control this game.  Mizzou has a better chance of being that team, but not a great chance.

  3. The Zebras.  Seriously, this game could give Mizzou-KSU a run for its money in the fouls-and-free-throws department.  If they are lax with the whistles, that could help ATM on the offensive glass and very much help Mizzou in the backcourt.  But if not, then at least one of Mizzou's guards is getting into foul trouble, along with maybe Bryan Davis or David Loubeau for ATM.  How this game is called will affect everything from bench importance, to pace, to whether or not I get to bed before 11pm.  The refs will make themselves a big part of this game, one way or another.


If ATM wins ... it will play out similar to the Mizzou-OU game from a couple of weeks ago.  Mizzou can't get shots to fall, and ATM utilizes their physical half-court offense to control the pace of the game.  Mizzou can still win if this happens, but it still favors ATM.  Mizzou's FG% is low, and ATM's FTs are high.  ATM wins, 72-66.

If Mizzou wins I said, they can win an ATM-style game (something in the same 72-66 range), but the more likely scenario is that this plays out quite similar to how most Mizzou home wins play out.  Mizzou is making open shots (Good Kimmeh makes an appearance), and they use basically two big runs to pull away.  This game will almost certainly be close at halftime, but Mizzou pulls away like they usually do, winning comfortably, 84-70.

Hey, never bet against a streak, right?  ATM has a five-game winning streak against Mizzou, but Mizzou's won 32 straight at home.  32 > 5.  (Math, it's so simple sometimes.)  Until Mizzou loses at home, I will always pick them to win at home.  84-70, good guys.