The Aggies were athletically superior in every facet of the game. A&M led in almost every single statistical category except for one. They out-rebounded the Owls 38-30. They turned the ball over fewer than Rice (13-8). The huge advantage was reflected in the number of times A&M got to the free throw line (A&M 37, Rice 10). Points off turnovers...check. Bench scoring...check. You get the picture.
But there was one stat where A&M was abysmal and it happens to be the most important stat in the game...shooting percentage. EVen that stat usually reflects which team was superior and created the easier scoring opportunities. But that wasn't the case in this game. Bottom line...the Aggies just couldn't make perimeter shots and that wasn't good when the opponent is packing in with a zone defense and daring A&M to shoot outside. That's why before Jordan Green hit the game winning 3-pointer with six seconds left, the Aggies' 2-for-17 shooting from behind the arc was a killer in this game. Most of those looks were good, clean shots. They just didn;t fall, and thus we have the dilemma for the team at the moment. Who will hit the outside shot that will force teams to play man defense where the team actually flourishes.
I thought Jamal Jones would be one of the answers from the perimeter, but he's been stone cold so far. He missed all three of his 3-pt attempts badly. I still believe Jones can and will be a valuable component to this team, but he's more effective attacking the rim. Ironically, Antwan Space probably has the best 3-pt. stroke and he hit a critical long ball in the final 3-4 minutes to keep the Aggies close. I think Davonte Fitzgerald has a chance to be an effective outside shooter along with his mid-range shooting. He finished with 14 points and was the bright spot in this game.
It should also be noted that Fabyon Harris missed the game with a mild concussion suffered in practice so A&M played this game with no true point guards and you could see the deficiency in the half-court with Caruso and walk-on Blake McDonald. They didn't produce scoring opportunities for their teammates.
Kourtney Roberson finished with a game high 19 points and 9 rebounds against a fairly small Rice squad, although they did have one athletic 6-foot-9 big man.
It should also be noted that Jordan Green stepped up to the occasion and drained a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining to break a 66-66 tie and win the game. The confidence factor is big.
The Aggies next play Prairie View A&M on Tuesday.
Hop's Analysis - A&M 69 Rice 66
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