Since last we spoke Mizzou had just come off a loss to Kentucky (the size or depth of which is irrelevant) and were looking to bounce back against the Volunteers of Tennessee this past Saturday and that did not happen. So Mizzou heads down to College Station to face Texas A&M on a three game losing streak sitting at 1-3 in conference and in a tie for last place (thanks Vandy for losing to Mississippi State)!
Presenting the Texas A&M University Aggies
location: College Station, Texas
By HHKB Chris: Regardless of what happens in the future, Texas A&M and Mizzou will be inextricably linked as we both left the dysfunctional Big 12 together to greener pastures (talking ‘bout that money) of the SEC. Where A&M has been welcomed with open arms (I’m guessing mostly based on longitude and latitude), Mizzou has not as much, so this game is really a battle for dad’s love and approval when all is said and done.
A propos of nothing A&M's head coach, Billy Kennedy HATES Vanderbilt's court too! So if we ever meet we're totally gonna share a meal and talk about Vandy's court and then probably something else.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before…A&M’s mascot is…A DOG! Apparently this conference is all dogs and cats. The difference between A&M and the rest of the conference is that they have no human furry mascot thing, like the rest of us do. Nope, they have Reveille (which means wake up in French and is pronounced in Texas as Revel RY, which is wrong) a border collie who lives with a sophomore student who belongs to the Corps of Cadets. The dude’s on campus who all dress the same, no not the frat guys, the military guys, the ones who have to. This dude must care for this dog, and apparently she’s quite the handful, just look at her set up!
A&M is currently on Reveille 8, and apparently this dog has a cell phone (you know, since she has the opposable thumbs to answer it and can speak) and an ID card so she can get down on some Burger King and have it her way, when she wants. I don’t agree with little kids having cell phones, but a dog? Why not! I bet she spends all day playing Words with Friends and Trivia Crack, and I bet the cadets let her win. Why would they? Well it turns out she’s technically a "cadet general" making her the highest ranking member of the Cadets. The dog is in charge. If A&M has to go to literal war they’re screwed, unless deucing outside and licking oneself is a new defense technique I’ve not heard of.
A&M is also known for their 12th man thing, and their will to sue anyone who infringes on the use of that phrase, except for this website, but maybe they should sue. They sued the Seahawks and agreed out of court that there could be two 12th men, so long as they’re used in different ways. They’ve also sued a Bills fan group, because being a member of a Bills fan group wasn’t embarrassing enough, you’re now being sued by a major university who clearly has too much time on their hands.
Like our friends at Kentucky, A&M has some famous people that went to their school, and we’ll get to them, but first we’re getting to the alumnus that we like the most, our current Chancellor and graduate of A&M, R. Bowen Loftin. Loftin is known for is snazzy bow ties (fun fact, bow tie was the name of Elvis’ pet turkey), love of athletics and telling A&M he was gone to head up to Columbia, because between the two, wouldn’t you rather live in Columbia than College Station? Of course you would.
A&M was also the school that Rita LeBlanc attended and look at her now, she owns the Saints of the NFL. The Saints used to have Chase Daniel as their back up QB, they don’t anymore so who really cares about them anyway.
Finally, because alums that look and do silly things are fun, Rick Perry is a proud alumnus of the University and he’s great on tv if ever you want a laugh. This was him during the Republican Presidential debates in 2012: Oops. Rick, run again please I need more "oops" in my life!!!
Now, if you’re heading down to the game because you’ve decided attending Mizzou games at Mizzou Arena in person is so 3 years ago, well I’ve got a tip for you! Head to the bar called "The Dixie Chick" or "The Chicken", dependent on how in the know you are. They have beer there and was described online as what Walt Disney would come up with were they thinking of a Texas themed bar. So I imagine it looks like what a Fridays looks like but more cowboy and western themed. My French father would love it!
If you’re not heading to the game, the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network, which wouldn’t exist without us or A&M, YOU’RE WELCOME SEC!
About Their Basketball Team
By Sam Snelling: The Aggies are a program that Mizzou fans should feel slightly familiar with. I say slightly because we were conference mates in that old league before coming to our new league. Since becoming conference mates with Texas A&M, they've been through 5 coaches, ultimately settling on Billy Kennedy who has yet to win more than 18 games in a season, but likely reprieved himself from any job concerns by remaking his staff recently and going on a bit of a tear with recruiting.
If you remember certain players from the two games these teams played last year, you likely remember Alex Caruso. Caruso is a bit of a do-everything player for the Aggies, and leads the SEC in assists. This year he does have some better players to pass the ball to, so that's helped. Danuel House, a former 5-star recruit, transferred from Houston and was able to gain immediate eligibility and started helping with the scoring almost immediately. Jalen Jones, another transfer from SMU, also became eligible after sitting out a year and did the same, so now House and Jones are the Aggies two best scoring options. This is an improvement over last year where Caruso and Jordan Green might have been their best options after Jamal Jones (who left A&M at the end of last season).
With the new transfers, and Caruso running the show, the Aggies have found some early success with an 11-5 record. They got thumped at Alabama to open conference play, took Kentucky to overtime at home, and then beat Mississippi State in an ugly game before upsetting LSU at LSU. It was the first time Texas A&M has won a game (of basketball) at LSU. A&M this year is a better version than they've been since Kennedy has taken over the job.
Now for a closer look at their basketball team, let's chat with somebody who knows them best...
Q&A With GOOD BULL HUNTING
A big thanks to our friends at GoodBullHunting.com, specifically GigThem08, for taking some time to answer our questions about the Aggies. The folks at GBH do awesome work, so check them out, visit their site and follow them on twitter!
RockMNation: In year 4 of the Kennedy tenure, how to A&M fans view the basketball program?
gigthem08: Before he pulled his insane 2015 recruiting class, our fans' enthusiasm for Kennedy ranged from "meh" to "why is he still here." But that class changed everything. For the first time since the late 2000's, you can draw a path to A&M Basketball success. That's really all this fanbase was asking for, and it bought him another year at minimum.
RMN: What has been the impact of transfers Jalen Jones and Danuel House to the Aggies offense?
gigthem08: We lost leading scorer Jamal Jones a year early to the NBA D-League (don't ask), so those transfers have been huge. Jalen is by far our best option down low, and House (while somewhat inconsistent) is capable of going off for 25 on any given night. I shudder to think where this offense would be without them.
RMN: There have been some lows for this team so far this year, when things aren't going well, what seems to be the major problem?
gigthem08: Zone offense. When teams pack it in for 40 minutes, we have yet to show we can consistently shoot our way to victory. The Kentucky game was tight because the Cats steadfastly refused to play zone. On top of that, they insisted on picking us up 40 feet from the basket, and one thing we have is an abundance of guards that work well in the screen game. Sorry about pissing UK off, by the way.
RMN: Missouri has obviously struggled, but what about the Tigers concerns you going into this game?
gigthem08: Familiarity. This series has no shortage of unexplainable results, and we almost had another in last year's SEC tourney game. Weird things happen when these squads line up, and my fear is that you put it all together tonight and send us home with a loss we can't afford.
RMN: With all that said, how do you see this game playing out? Final Score prediction?
gigthem08: If we were in Columbia, I'd be worried. But A&M has been sneaky good at Reed in SEC games over the past two years, so I see this one going comfortably to the home squad.
Texas A&M 70; Missouri 57
Again, a big thanks to gigthem08, he's a great basketball writer and follow, so read his stuff and give him a hard time on twitter when the Aggies lose to the Tigers. I also did a Q&A with Good Bull Hunting which you can read here: Missouri Preview on GoodBullHunting
1) Play Smart - Find Good Shots
When you go on the road, every possession gets more valuable. And that is amplified when you are a team that still struggles with the idea of their identity. In the Auburn game, Missouri let the open 3 point chances go to their head a bit and let loose. They simply can't do that against Texas A&M. The Aggies have a size advantage on the outside, but Missouri will have a size advantage on the inside with JW3. They simply have to play through JW3 and to a lesser extent Keanau Post. If they get those guys interior touches, and find lanes to penetrate, they should have enough success on offense to keep them in the game.
2) Team Rebounding
I mentioned above that Missouri will likely have a slight size advantage on the interior, but the perimeter is a different thing. A&M is a pretty big team on the outside with Caruso, House and Green all at least 6'5. Those three are the most used players on the outside, with Alex Robinson (6'1) and Davonte Fitzgerald (6'7) next in line. There are a lot of possessions (roughly 30% of them in the last 5 games) where Missouri has found comfort with Tramaine Isabell (6'0), Wes Clark (6'0) and Keith Shamburger (5'11) are on the court at the same time. With that lineup those three players have to go rebound and win at least SOME of those battles. Ultimately, Missouri will need to keep the rebounding battle even to stay closer.
3) Make them take guarded shots, and don't foul
If there is good news about Texas A&M, is that they can be forced into an ugly low scoring game. House and Jones are good scorers, but not great ones, and certainly not consistent. Caruso does a lot but has trouble consistently finding the range from outside. He'll get a lot of his points through steals and in transition, then at the line. Mississippi State did enough to win the game against A&M at Reed, but ultimately fouled too much and gave A&M 44 free attempts at the line. You simply have to make them take tough shots, and keep them off the line, otherwise you're going to give a pretty average offensive team (and that's being nice) far too many chances to score.
And therein lies the rub with this team. Missouri was good enough to win at Auburn, but gave Auburn way too many free points. You can't give the other team that many free points when you're on the road, that's how Tennessee beat Missouri. They got to the line, Missouri didn't. Part of that is just a young team learning to win games, and what you cannot do if you expect to win.
This is where Missouri has really struggled in the last few weeks. They don't do enough of the little things they need to win the game. There is that possession late where they just make the wrong decision, or get caught looking and it costs them a valuable possession late. But what can be worse is the lack of possession throughout much of the game. Too often Missouri has been careless with the ball and given it up giving the opponent a 6-8 point run, and for a team that lacks offense, that's hard to give up.
Frankly, I'm not sure I see any different happening against A&M. I just think A&Ms experience on the floor will outplay the Missouri youth and it will be too much in the end. I expect Missouri to do enough to keep this game close, but not close enough. I'll take Texas A&M 65, Missouri 57.
There you have it folks. Err'body thinks Mizzou is going down, except for the 27 people who voted in this poll before the season started. Leave any predictions in the comments, Trifecta picks are welcome too. Mine? I think it's time for JW3 to be back on track, Shamburger hits enough shots to keep Mizzou in it, and D'Angelo Allen finally finds himself some stats.