The question becomes is that enough to overcome slip under the +6 underdog tag attached to them tonight. Having three days of preparation figures to help the Gamecocks with the immediate style change facing them in this game.
Last Saturday's opponent LSU plays very fast and currently sits at #46 in the nation according to the KenPom adjusted tempo rankings. Their 73.9 possessions per game is six more than the 67.9 averaged by Texas A&M which sits at #300 in Pomeroy's adjusted tempo. South Carolina did have some turnover problems committing 19 in the high octane LSU contest but they were able to negate that by forcing 19 of their own. It's difficult right now to say what type of style they're more adept at playing because their performances have been so scattered, but it's apparent they're capable of being competitive at any tempo.
Texas A&M is a confident group now sitting at 2-0 in SEC play off a pair surprising season opening victories over Arkansas and at Tennessee. The stark differences between those opponents indicates that the methodical, sometimes frustratingly slow nature of the Aggies is working against all styles. A&M totally took high flying Arkansas out of their element on this floor last week in their 69-53 blowout win and then bounced back with a win over the interior physicality presented by Tennesse.
Texas A&M doesn't pose quite the same inside size threat that LSU dominated South Carolina with four days ago but they do have an advantage. On Saturday, the trio of LSU size players led the team in scoring as all posted double digits. Tonight's main combatant is 6'9" 244 lb Kourtney Roberson whose body type is extremely similar to Bayou Bengals star Johnny O'Bryant. He'll be tough to contend with but A&M doesn't have an additional pair of interior studs to go with him the way LSU did. The Aggies leading scorer at 10.9 ppg is 6'8" Jamal Jones who is more of a stretch PF than low post force.
Sorting through this handicap from the fundamental angle, the key to the game will be South Carolina's discipline. A&M executes their methodical style very well and they'll force the Gamecocks to play all 35 seconds of the shot clock. On offense, South Carolina does not shoot the ball well as their 42.9 FG% is last in the SEC. There will be no surplus of easy baskets so getting good shots against the Aggies stingy defense is a must. From a situational stance, South Carolina could have the edge here. They are a hungry and developing team in a situation which now seen enough road venues (including Florida's O'Dome last week) to not be intimidated by this one. The Aggies are also in that tenuous spot of immediately exceeding expectations in league play where a bit of over confidence or a potential correction could surface here.
Both teams are stepping down in class after facing a pair of tough opponents but the spot seems to favor South Carolina. Without much of a talent gap between these teams, prefer to take +6 which gets magnified in low scoring games.
Final Score Projection: Texas A&M 65 South Carolina 62
Handicapping South Carolina at Texas A&M
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