Stop me if you’ve heard this but Mizzou is coming off a loss and we’re trying to get back into the "W" column. Today we’re visited by our friend from the Big 12 days (when Basketball was what we did), the Aggies of A&M who are faring quite well in the basketball arena these days. Mizzou is officially at the bottom of the SEC which means we can only go up, right?
Presenting the Texas A&M Aggies
location: College Station, Tejas
Fastest way OUT of Texas
By HHKB Chris: As with the Kentucky preview part deux, I will be taking a different tack as it concerns what you need to know for this preview of the Texas A&M Aggies. But for a quick recap, A&M has a dog who has a cellphone who is in charge of all their humans and they are a litigious bunch willing to sue errybody that attempts to use the number 12 for anything at all forever and ever and ever and ever.
So let’s get to know Texas on a whole other level shall we? Let’s be honest, Texas is a weird place and it's biggest issue is that’s actively trying to secede from the United States of America, right now. Literally this is happening as you read this and they want out and they want it now!!! The feeling being that with all their cows and oil they can just go on just fine by themselves. The leader of this movement to flee the oppression of the USA is Daniel Miller and I assume he looks like this.
Good luck to you sir, should you ever manage to remove Texas from the US I imagine the first thing we’re going to have to do after you mosey (see Texas stuff) is design all new maps and either change the flag or just make DC A STATE ALREADY LIKE IT SHOULD BE! I vote for statehood, NOW!
Anyway, Texas has shown it can be strange and in that spirit let's examine some of the more funny laws on their books. There are two laws in particular that I can't really touch on because, well it's a bit NSFW. But said laws concerned themselves with a certain device that is used in certain situations by certain peoples when the mood should strike, and it appears that Texas is really, REALLY into regulating this device. To the point where I assume even watching this wonderfully funny SNL skit is illegal in the state as well.
But enough about that, let’s talk about something we can actually talk about. Texas also doesn’t want you making your own beer! And to stop you from doing so they have banned the entire Encyclopedia Britannica (wikipedia in tangible form you young folk, GET OFF MY LAWN) from even appearing in the state because the recipe to make beer is in there. They’ll be damned if you’re going to compete with such delicious beers like Lone Star (this one, not this guy), Frio (cause it's cold, get it?!) or PBR. Just naming these makes my head hurt and I'm reaching for the IBU, gatorade and a croissanwich. I couldn’t find any information if the Americana Encyclopedia was banned or not but if it’s not, well it looks like Texas has got a little contradiction on their hand, quick someone call Daniel Miller.
Also, a fun law to know should you choose to live in the United Federation of the Democratic Republic of Texas, it is illegal to shoot a buffalo from a second story of a hotel. Which makes complete and total sense. You either need to be at eye level or much higher up, I assume this has something to do with degree of difficulty or the fact that when making an insane law, you should go full weird. So all you vacationers and business travelers, when you see a Buffalo walking around (this does not include current or former football players) and you’re on the second floor, be sure to rush to the third, find an open window and fire away, but not before then.
Texas A&M is actually the first university to be opened in Texas, though when it was opened it was for dudes only! Not only that but you had to be willing to serve in the Corps of Cadets (who as you remember from the first preview is led by a dog) and receive military training.
They did have some ladies eventually but they were strictly forbidden from graduating. They could go to class, but A&M was going to be damned if they ever finished. It is assumed that the 7 year plan started at A&M. I wonder if any ladies just stayed and lived there forever and just passed. I bet that’s what happened.
Now, this game is in Columbia MO, so you know you’re going. What was that? You don’t think you will. It’s too long a drive and the team is unwatchable. Well that’s some bullsh*t! You go watch this game and support this team because if you don’t the players will be sad and they’re already a little sad. But if you live somewhere really far away (like St. Louis or Kansas City or Nifong) you can watch this game on ESPNU from your couch with a nice glass of home brewed beer because you don’t live in the backwards autocracy that is Texas. Truly your freedom is free!!!
About Their Basketball Team
By Sam Snelling: You'll definitely want to read our last preview on the Aggies, and because I'm such a nice guy, I've linked it here. Where it says: READ THIS... you should. Now, onto talking about the Aggies.
Since last we met the Aggies are 3-1, with their only loss at Ole Miss on Wednesday. If you're crazy like I am, you watched this game at 6 pm before watching Alabama thump Mizzou at 8 pm. The loss to the Rebels dropped the Aggies to 6-3 in conference play, and 15-6 overall. Before that loss, the Aggies had won six in a row which makes them one of the hotter teams in the SEC, which has earned them a #4 spot in the SEC Power Rankings.
Both Jalen Jones and Danuel House struggled against Ole Miss, but are the leading scorers for the Ags at 13.8 ppg. Alex Caruso still leads everybody in assists per game at 5.5. The Aggies are playing really good basketball right now, and are pretty solidly in the NCAA tournament as long as they don't do something silly and lose to Mizzou.
Now for a closer look at their basketball team, let's chat with somebody who knows them best...
Q&A With GOOD BULL HUNTING
Just like last time, we bugged gigthem08 to answer some mostly new questions about his Aggies. Don't forget to check out our last Q&A to see what he said a few weeks ago, and call him out if any of these questions match exactly what he said then. Also, we like the folks at GoodBullHunting.com, so head over and check them out.
RockMNation: Since we last played, you guys just kept on winning, what's it going to take for Mizzou to steal a win against the Aggies this Saturday?
gigthem08: Deny House and Jones (our two leading scorers) as much as you can. Ole Miss was able to frustrate them for most of the game, which forced the Aggies to scramble on offense. Some days, the supporting squad can step up... but they didn't in Oxford. On top of that, Alex Robinson and Alex Caruso have struggled with their outside shot at times, but they can cause absolute chaos off the dribble. If you dare them to shoot and it's not falling, our offense can go sour pretty quickly.
Also, don’t send us to the line. We don't like free throws, and they frighten us a great deal.
RMN: It's easy to say that A&M has been the surprise story of the SEC season (the positive surprise) what do you think has been the reason for A&Ms stellar play this year?
gigthem08: I know it seems overly simplistic... but the answer is talent, plain and simple. Adding House and Jones to this roster gave us a solid 9-10 deep of quality players for the first time in Kennedy's tenure. Now, we can still compete if a top player doesn't bring his "A" game. We've been able to grind some ugly victories a couple of times, and those would have been losses in days gone by. Winning ugly is critical if you want to survive the conference grind.
RMN: A&M has a pretty backloaded schedule, how do you see that playing out beyond the Mizzou game tonight?
David Dold: I think we're going to take care of business at home, but I can't shake the feeling that a complete dud performance on the road is coming. I hope it's not this Saturday, as we have a great homestand (UGA/UF/LSU) coming up and two straight losses would absolutely torpedo the momentum. Here's how I see it: @Mizzou – W, UGA – W, UF – L, LSU – W, @SC – L, @Ark – L, Aub – W, @UF – W, Bama - W
RMN: Do you see A&M dancing in March?
gigthem08: I actually wrote about this over at Good Bull Hunting yesterday, check it out. In general, I see 12-6 with a conference win as the ultimate marker. I think we get there barring key injuries, but it's going to be close. The key games are @Arkansas and @Florida. If we take care of business against every bottom-half team we play, we might not need those games... but it's hard to avoid a slip-up in the 18-game grind. I'm betting that we end up need to grab one of those, and our ability to do that will be the deciding factor.
RMN: What's your prediction for Saturday's game, and what do you think the final score will be?
gigthem08: I think A&M takes this one, and I think it's a repeat (emphasis on the inside game + pounding the glass) of the original plot. The game stays close through the second half, but the Aggies pull away with 5-6 minutes left. Prediction: Texas A&M 64, Missouri 56
Thanks again to gigthem08, give him a follow on twitter to find out what it's like to cheer for a time that has won multiple games in 2015.
Last time around, Mizzou was on a 3 game losing streak and came out and played really really well in the first half. They went into a complete funk in the second half and were outscored 24-7 in the first 10 minutes, and 38-19 overall. Then the three keys were Play Smart and work to find good shots, Team Rebounding, make them take guarded shots and don't foul. We're going to revise a bit this time around, since that sort of worked, when it didn't.
1) Nothing Easy
Alex Caruso is a tough matchup because he's a big guard who rebounds, and likes to start fast breaks. A&M doesn't necessarily play at a high pace, but Caruso affects the game in many ways because of his size, rebounding ability and his court vision. Missouri needs to limit his opportunities to get the Aggies easy baskets. That's in the half court and full court defense. When Caruso is playing well, he can help the Ags run off 6-8 point runs on his own just by setting his teammates up. If Mizzou wants to be in this game late, they need to focus on making Caruso's life tough in both the full and half court.
2) Making Shots Would Be A Nice Change
The offensive slide for Mizzou has been keyed by a number of things, but they've been in an absolute funk from deep. Since the Arkansas game Missouri has shot just 14 of 64 from behind the 3 point line. For the math challenged that's not good and 21.8%. Most of the shots haven't necessarily been bad shots, they've just rimmed out (and on some occasions, not hit the rim at all). So Missouri could use a bounce back game from deep. I would think seeing a few deep 3's going in might boost their confidence and get them going in other areas of the game as well.
Since the lull started several games ago, Missouri has been searching for a spark to get them going. Normally the spark comes from a teams leader, but this team is largely devoid of leadership. One guy that I'm hoping gets going a bit is D'Angelo Allen. I'm singling out Allen because he's a very passionate basketball player, but he's been playing at a bit of a deficit in the last 5-6 games. He's no longer contributing the kinds of minutes and play that he was early in the season. Allen has struggled so badly that he saw his minutes dwindle to a season low 2 minutes vs. Alabama.
Allen's struggles seem to be somewhat indicative of the team as a whole. When Mizzou is going well, they're playing with energy and enthusiasm. Allen exemplifies enthusiasm. He's always the one chest bumping his teammates after a good play, yelling from the bench and getting everyone involved. That has slipped a bit in recent games as soon as Mizzou hits that lull on offense. What would be great is if this game is close in the second half, and Allen finds a way to make a play or score a basket, and turn loose the confident freshman that we all fell in love with over the first half of the season.
That sort of spark and passion is what Missouri needs to recapture before the end of the season. And a home game against a solid, but not spectacular A&M team hold potential for that "get-it-back" game. Seeing the ball go in the basket instead of rim out will help, forcing A&M to make tough shots will help also... but nothing will get this team going like a play they NEED to happen happen, and for it to happen by a guy that's been really scuffling for the last few games. Missouri needs Johnathan Williams III, Wes Clark and Keith Shamburger to play well. They could use Montaque Gill-Caesar having a good game, maybe Namon Wright as well. But I'm not sure anyone on the team needs a confidence building game the way Allen does.
Even with all those things going Mizzou's way, they're still not guaranteed a win. Those are just the things they need to happen to be competitive. But since I have to make a prediction, I'll say they get some things to go their way, but not all. I think they'll struggle to contain Jones again, and that will be the difference in the game and A&M wins a close one. Aggies 67, Tigers 65.
Wow, you guys must have been confident in winning this game before the season, my how times have changed... Same as usual, trifecta/predictions in the comments below. I'll take Shamburger, Post and JW3.