Aggies v. Baylor Basketball Preview

The first matchup between former Big 12 rivals looks to be a good one. What do the Bears need to do to stop the suddenly popular Aggie basketball squad?

Quick Facts about Texas A&M

Location: College Station, TX

Conference: SEC

Mascot: Aggies

Head Coach: Billy Kennedy (Overall Record: 55-48 in 4th Season)

2013-14 Record: 18-16 (8-10 conference)

2014-15 Record: 6-1 (2-1 away)

Last Game: 71-72 win over Arizona State

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance: 2011

Game Preview

December 9, 2014 (8:00 PM CT, ESPN2/WatchESPN)

For the first time since the Aggies left the Big 12 conference, Baylor and Texas A&M basketball will meet on the hardwood this Tuesday in Waco, TX.

The Aggies enter the Ferrell Center 2-1 away from their home court, but one would expect to see more than a few fans in maroon during the game. News surrounding the Texas A&M basketball program this season has focused more on the top-tier recruiting class head coach Billy Kennedy is bringing in next season, but the Aggies have been a solid team up to this point.

Coming off of a one-point win against Arizona State, Texas A&M is an incredibly balanced team. Only one player averages more than 26 minutes per game, and the highest point share by a single player is 17%. More than three Aggies are averaging double-digit points, but all five starters are scoring at least seven points per game. More impressive, however, is how the Aggies share the ball. Five players for Kennedy are responsible for almost 22 assists per game, and the team as a whole ranks 45th in the nation in total apg.

Jalen Jones, a junior from Dallas, is an almost complete package. The 6’7’’ guard pulls down rebounds at an impressive rate (6.1 rpg), picks the pocket of opposing players (~2 spg), and shoots the ball well (43.5% and 12.4 ppg). The Bears will have trouble guarding Jones’ height and skill set, given the sheer extent to which he covers the floor. Yet, as if that were not enough, Danuel House, another 6’7’’ guard, is the second-leading scorer on the team, with similar scoring numbers as his teammate. Having an undersized guard rotation will make it essential that the zone for Scott Drew must be on point, as these two multi-faceted players will carry the bulk of the offense for the Aggies

The Aggies’ defense is also nothing to scoff at, as it is holding opponents to 38.2% field goal percentage per game. That said, with the incredible shooting streak the Bears are coming off of post-Vanderbilt, and the longest break in two weeks, I am confident that Royce O’Neale, Taurean Prince, and Lester Medford can continue to break down defenses with strong perimeter play.

Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley, meanwhile, need to perform better than they did in the Big 12-SEC challenge. The starting big men totaled 4 points on 1-10 shooting and eight total rebounds. Motley, in addition, managed to foul out in 14 minutes of playtime. When comparing utilization versus size, the Bears match up well, which means that both Gathers and Motley will have the opportunity to improve upon their performances, both of which, I am confident, can certainly do.

What cannot be overlooked for either team, meanwhile, is the rebirth of the rivalry that has seen many highlights, including the longest game in Big 12 history, ending after five overtime periods. Will emotion have an impact on this game?

Players to Watch:

Baylor: Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley

Texas A&M: Jalen Jones and Danuel House

Final Score Prediction: 64-76, Baylor wins

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