No. 14 Texas A&M (7-1) will attempt to rebound from their first loss of the season when they host the Texas State Bobcats on Saturday night.
Last Sunday, the then undefeated and No. 9 Aggies went on the road and dominated a good Arizona Wildcat team early, building a 20-point lead, before Arizona came back and defeated the Aggies 78-67.
Texas State is 5-2, ccoming off a 88-81 loss to Rice on Wednesday night. The Bobcats only other loss was a 83-77 setback to Colgate in the opening round of the Kennnesaw State 100 Club Classic last month. Texas State had won three in a row prior to their Rice encounter.
While Texas State has a pretty impressive 5-2 record, this record is a bit misleading when you look deeper.
Texas State is ranked No. 303 (of 341) in Jeff Sagarin's NCAA Basketball Ratings (as of December 7th). Two of Texas State's wins have come over non-NCAA teams (Huston-Tillotson, Dallas Baptist), while none of Texas State's other wins have come against teams ranked higher than No. 301 - Jacksonville State (324), Texas-Pan Amercian (301), and Prairie View A&M (335). Texas State's losses have come against Colgate (216) and Rice (267).
Doug Davalos is in his second year as head coach of the Bobcats. Davolos faced a huge rebuilding challenge, as Texas State won only three games in 2005-2006. In his first year, Davolos and Texas State went on to triple its win total from the previous season as the Bobcats went 9-20 and posted a 4-12 record in Southland Conference play.
Prior to Texas State, Davolos was head coach at Sul Ross State where in four years Davalos' teams were 72-35 overall and 52-20 in the American Southwest Conference (ASC), leading Sul Ross to three straight ASC West Division championships.
Texas State is led by 6-7 junior guard Brandon Bush who tops the Bobcats in minutes (26.6), points (16.6), and rebounds (6.9). As a sophomore, Bush ranked seventh in the Southland Conference in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game. Bush enters the A&M game needing 214 points to become only Texas State's 15th all-time 1,000-point scorer. Texas State coach Doug Davalos says of Bush "Brandon has the potential to be the team's best offensive player and the team's best defensive player. He can guard any position on the court. He has the ability to create mismatches."
Other probable starters are 6-0 junior guard Corey Jefferson (23.6 mins, 6.6 pts, 3.4 rebs), 6-10 freshman center Ty Gough (15.7 mins, 7.9 pts, 5.9 rebs), 6-3 senior guard Brandon Thomas (20.3 mins, 7.7 pts, 4.4 rebs), and either 6-6 senior forward Chris Agwumaro (12.9 mins, 6.4 pts, 2.9 rebs) or 6-7 freshman forward Cameron Johnson (12.3 mins, 3.6 pts, 2.7 rebs).
Junior college transfer guard Brent Benson (6-1) has not started a game, but is second on the team in scoring (14.9) and third in minutes (21.1), and is especially dangerous from 3-point territory, knocking down 22 of 49 attempts (45%).
The Bobcats like to rotate lots of players, with 11 players averaging over 10 minutes a game, as compared to the Aggies who only have 7 players averaging over 10 minutes a game.
Texas A&M looked to be final 4 material when they opened up a 32-12 lead in the first half of their game with Arizona. However, from that point Arizona outscored the Aggies 66-35 to come back and hand A&M their first loss of the season.
Coach Turgeon will have had to face his first major tests of the year this week in getting the Texas A&M team back on track. Blowing this kind of lead would have put a dent in the Aggies confidence level and raised some self-doubts. This game also exposed a few cracks in the Aggies armour, such as defensing a cat-quick scoring guard like Arizona's freshman phenom Jerryd Bayless. A&M will also be looking to get their big freshman center DeAndre Jordan back into form. In the Arizona game Jordan was held to 4 points amd 3 rebound in 17 minutes of play.
This game should not be as close as the similar records might suggest. Brandon Bush will create some mismatches and will get his points and Brent Benson will score a few three-pointers, but the Aggies should dominate.