Missouri 64 | Texas A&M 82
1st Half Notes
- Kobe Brown has one foul early on. He also has all six points for Mizzou at the 16:01 mark.
- Brown just bodied Julius Marble (a very large person) to get an open look. Follows it up with a tomahawk dunk in transition. He has ten early on and has come out playing aggressively.
- A&M doing what was largely expected of them: dominate the glass. They have a +6 margin so far.
- Tigers have not been afraid to take shots from behind the arc. They’ve shot five of their ten total shots from three-point land, but only made one of them.
- Now a 12-to-4 offensive rebound on the glass for Texas A&M. Half of those are offensive rebounds.
- Kobe Brown picks up his second foul at the 8:39 mark of the first half.
- Aggies have opened up a 22-14 lead as Mizzou has gone ice cold. Hayden Hefner has a three-pointer, giving many Tiger fans bad flashbacks to last season.
- Lead now at double-digits after some Henfer free throws.
- Henfer hits another three. This can’t be happening again.
- Marble with an and-one to extend the Aggie lead to 13.
- TAMU is now up to seven offensive rebounds and ten second chance points. They’re also currently on a 21-2 run.
- A&M is going what Mizzou does best: pushing the pace. They’re beating the Tigers at their own game.
- If Julius Marble is hitting fade-away jumpers at the shot clock buzzer, it just seems like it is going to be Texas A&M’s night.
- Hefner with 12 first half points.
2nd Half Notes
- A&M has opened up the half with a couple of turnovers, but Missouri has not been able to capitalize on offense.
- D’Moi Hodge just put Radford on a poster. Wow.
- Offensive foul right after. A bit of momentum going into the under 16 timeout.
- Hodge has gotten better looks in this second half, but he still has not made a shot from behind the arc.
- Tigers shooting 1-for-16 from deep.
- Sean East II gets a steal and open layup to cut the lead to 15. This is the lowest it has been in a while.
- Brown picks up his third foul at the 12:50 mark.
- DeAndre Gholston breaks the long drought from three, lead is now 48-36.
- The Missouri full-court pressure has also really changed this game. Aggies have not looked comfortable ever since Dennis Gates started showing it.
- Tigers now in the bonus at the 11:15 mark.
- Flagrant one on Wade Taylor IV after his elbow hit Nick Honor in the face.
- Hodge hits his first three of the night to cut the Aggie lead to 50-43. Momentum is firmly in the Tigers’ favor.
- Brown picks up his fourth foul at the 10:34 mark.
- Hodge is heating up! He hits another three in transition to cut the lead to four.
- Marble with an one-one to halt the Tiger run.
- Both teams looking like they will be in the double bonus relatively soon.
- Wade Taylor IV’s defensive play seems to have ignited his offense. Dennis Gates calls a timeout.
- Hodge fouls out of the game at the 5:44 mark.
- A&M has opened up a 15-point lead. Taylor IV and Redford have led the way, while Tigers remain ice cold from deep.
- Aggies have now shot 31 free throws. They lead the nation is most free throws attempted and made.
5 Fan Questions:
- Who will lead the team in scoring?
- How many three-pointers will D’Moi Hodge hit?
- What percentage will the Tigers shoot from the field?
- How many turnovers will Mizzou force?
- Who will be the MVP?
Under fourth-year head coach Buzz Williams, Texas A&M finally forced their way into the conversation last season when the Aggies surged through the latter portion of their schedule en route to an appearance in the SEC Tournament Championship Game.
Carrying that momentum and the frustration of not being selected to the NCAA Tournament, A&M cruised to the NIT Championship Game, where Xavier defeated them by a single point.
Texas A&M attempted to continue its stride into this season, but losses to Murray State and Wofford alongside defeats to three teams within the KenPom Top-50, derailed the Aggies early on. As of late, though, Texas A&M has rediscovered its victorious ways, entering tonight’s matchup on a four-game winning streak.
At 10-5 overall with a 2-0 record in SEC play, the Aggies are no cakewalk for Mizzou, but the Dennis Gates-led Tigers are looking to continue their impressive and unexpected success against a team that has yet to defeat a team within the KenPom Top-50.
These programs split the season series last year, each winning on the road in a tight-knit battle with a total margin of victory of just seven points. Tonight’s showdown could feature similar results.
Folks, prepare for an enticing, high-scoring matchup between two SEC teams looking to boost their résumés for March.
When: Jan. 11, 2023
Where: College Station, Texas
Time: 7:30 p.m. CST
TV: SEC Network
KenPom Win Probability: Mizzou—49%
PG: Nick Honor (Grad; 9.7 PPG)
SG: Tre Gomillion (Grad; 5.5 PPG)
SF: D’Moi Hodge (Grad; 15.9 PPG)
PF: Ronnie DeGray III (SR; 2.5 PPG)
C: Kobe Brown (SR; 15.5 PPG)
Key Bench Players: DeAndre Gholston (Grad; 10.8 PPG), Noah Carter (SR; 10.7 PPG), Sean East II (SR; 8.3 PPG)
PG: Wade Taylor IV (SO; 15.4 PPG)
SG: Tyrece Radford (SR; 12.7 PPG)
SF: Dexter Dennis (Grad; 7.6 PPG)
PF: Henry Coleman III (JR; 10.1 PPG)
C: Julius Marble (JR; 8.9 PPG)
Key Bench Players: Andre Gordon (SR; 1.7 PPG) and Andersson Garcia (JR; 2.4 PPG), while Manny Obaseki (SO; 6.9 PPG) is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured pinkie.
*These are projected starters based on previous lineups and pregame information
Get To Know Texas A&M
If there is one thing the Aggies do better than almost anyone else, it is getting to the free throw line.
Texas A&M attempts the nation’s second-most free throws per game (26), but only knock them down at a 73.1 percent rate. A total of six Aggies have made at least 75% of their free throws, including the top two leading scorers, Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford, who have shot 81.5% and 82.5% from the charity stripe, respectively.
Those uncontested opportunities help to make up for a couple of Texas A&M’s own weakness — three-point shooting and foul trouble.
The Aggies rank dead-last in the SEC in three-point field goal defense, allowing opponents to make 36.4% of their attempts. They also foul more than any other conference team, committing 19.5 fouls per contest.
To make matters worse, Texas A&M has struggled to offset its lackluster perimeter defense with three-point shooting of their own. With a 31 percent mark from beyond the arc, the Aggies fall in the bottom-four of SEC offenses in connecting from distance.
The bright side to all of this, however, is that Texas A&M does still boast a Top-50 offense as well as a Top-100 defense, making it a well-rounded group as a whole. A key factor in this success is the continued emergence of Taylor, a sophomore who flashes plenty of poise and talent as an underclassman.
Taylor attempts more three-pointers than he does shots within the arc, making defenders respect his 36.7 percent tally from long range and allowing him to create more opportunities for the two main post contributors — Henry Coleman III and Julius Marble.
The duo, with the assistance of Radford, grab a combined 14.9 rebounds per game, including 4.7 of the offensive variety. They are just three of eight Aggies who record at least two rebounds per game, but they give Texas A&M an impressive mark of 12.1 offensive rebounds per game.
Adding to the Aggies lineup is former AAC Defensive Player of the Year, Dexter Dennis, who recorded season-high 17 points against LSU this past weekend and appears to have the hot-hand at the moment.
Overall, Texas A&M is average in most statistical categories, making them a tough opponent to key in upon. However, the Aggies score more than a quarter of their points via the free throw line, which is more than they earn from beyond the arc. The foul line is, quite simply, their bread and butter.
3 Keys To The Game
1. Expose the Aggies’ Three-Point Defense
The three-point line appears to be the biggest mismatch in this showdown.
Mizzou averages 9.7 three-pointers per game, attempting more than any other SEC team besides Alabama. Texas A&M, on the other hand, cannot defend the arc, allowing the Tigers to wreak havoc with their 37 percent tally on shots from long distance.
Nick Honor and D’Moi Hodge (hopefully recovered from his bout with the flu) will be the two names to keep an eye on, and especially Honor, who’s looking to bounce back amidst a recent scoring slump. Kobe Brown, Noah Carter and DeAndre Gholston will also have their opportunities, making this a true three-point contest.
Murray State, Colorado and Boise State followed a similar game plan in their victories over Texas A&M, providing a blueprint for the Tigers to pour down upon the Aggies. An early lead via the three-point line will also be beneficial, as Texas A&M is a below average three-point shooting team.
2. Stick to the Defensive Gameplay, but Avoid Fouls
Foul trouble is a serious concern for Mizzou, who averages 18.3 fouls per game. The Tigers will need to avoid a similar fate against Texas A&M to avoid another SEC loss.
Brown, in particular, will be important to watch, as the senior forward has been limited in back-to-back contests due to early foul trouble. If the same thing happens, Mizzou will likely be facing an early deficit while trying to overcome the slower-paced tempo that comes along in a high fouling game.
The Tigers showcase a defense that feasts on turnovers and capitalizes on opponent miscues, which makes them vulnerable to fouls. Adjusting to this will be vital, and that may require a strong zone defense that can limit the amount of man-to-man contact. Effectively limiting the foul count will put pressure on the Aggies unlike they’ve felt thus far.
3. Force Someone Outside of Coleman and Taylor to Beat You
This is obviously easier said than done.
The Aggies are 7-2 when Coleman scores in double-digits, including a 5-0 record when he posts 13 or more points. Taylor, meanwhile, operates as this team’s engine. Thus, when he goes, the team goes. Together, they offer a unique combination of size and speed that often makes it difficult for opposing teams to limit.
If Mizzou can take away these two for stretches of the game, the path to victory becomes much easier. Forcing Radford, Dennis or Marble to win their one-on-one matchups will be a much easier task for the Tigers than allowing Taylor to do to them what Rickly Council IV did.
Another player to watch will be Solomon Washington who could try to spark the offense with three-point attempts, much like Arkansas’ Joseph Pinion. Washington shoots at a 40% clip but has only taken 10 three-pointers, leaving Taylor and Radford as the main threats.
The task of preventing Taylor and Coleman from breaking out will likely fall into the hands of Honor/Gholston and Hodge/DeGray/Brown, respectively. Then, it’ll be up to everyone else to prevent an unlikely hero from altering the course of the game.
My Prediction: Missouri 84 | Texas A&M 76
KenPom Prediction: Missouri 79 | Texas A&M 80
Hodge remains nine points shy of the 1,000-point club, so first of all, I expect that to come to fruition.
Now, onto the game.
I believe this will be the bounce-back victory that fans were expecting against Vanderbilt. Texas A&M is a quality opponent with momentum, but the Aggies have not faced an opponent with an identity similar to the Tigers, nor have they impressed against Top-50 competition.
The game will come down to two things within the game’s first 10 minutes — whether Mizzou can stay out of foul trouble and their number of three-point makes. If both are trending in the right direction, then Mizzou should be able to hold off Texas A&M.
The Tigers have reason to be weary that this may not happen, and it’ll be important to watch how Mizzou’s zone defense fares in preventing fouls while also still producing results. Momentum is a serious thing, and Texas A&M will be ready to make it five consecutive wins at home. Buckle up Tiger fans. This’ll be a bumpy ride.