The No. 11-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (9-1) continue their homestand on Wednesday night when they play the University of Detroit Mercy Titans (4-6) at 7 p.m. at Reed Arena.
Detroit is coming off a surprising 70-55 loss on the road to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) on Monday night.
Detroit plays in the Horizon League with the likes of Butler and Valparaiso.
Detroit is coached by Perry Watson who is in his 15th year leading the Titans. Watson has produced a 258-180 record with the Titans, has 10 winning seasons, and has taken two teams to the NCAA Tournament (1998 and 1999).
Detroit's best win of the year was against Kent State in their opening game of the season, 61-60. Since that game, Kent State has won eight of nine games. Earlier this month Detroit gave No. 13 Butler all they could handle, eventually losing 53-46. Detroit has since lost to Valparaiso 81-68 and TAMU-CC.
To get a better feel for just how good this Detroit team is, the Titans are currently ranked No. 165 (of 341) in the latest Jeff Sagarin NCAA Basketball Ratings. Texas A&M is ranked No. 18 in Saragin's ratings, Kent State No. 63, Butler No. 20, and Valparaiso No. 41, and TAMU-CC is No. 246.
Detroit's leader this season was expected to be senior guard Brandon Cotton. After transferring to Detroit from Michigan State midway through his freshman season, Cotton had earned Second-Team All-League recognition for three consecutive years last winter and was the League's top returning scorer after averaging 18.1 points per game for the Titans. He finished third on the conference scoring charts and posted 14 games of 20 or more points with 26 double-figure performances. He leads all active League players with 1,464 points in his UDM career.
Before the season, Cotton was named to the collegeinsider.com Pre-Season Mid-Major All-America Team. However, Cotton was suspended on Nov. 1 by coach Watson for "conduct detrimental to the team." Cotton was reinstated to the roster on Nov. 9, but did not play in either of the Titans' first two regular-season games, and it was announced on Nov. 16 that Cotton had left the team.
With Cotton gone, Detroit 's leader has been 5-10 fifth-year senior guard Jon Goode (picture above). Goode was also suspended on Nov. 1 but was reinstated on Nov. 3 without missing any action. Goode is playing over 34 minutes a game and is averaging 17 points and 3 assists a game. Goode is shooting 43% from the field, include 20-of-54 3-pointers. Goode seems to play his best against the toughest competition. Against Kent State , Goode scored 22 points, including a 3-pointer as time expired Saturday, to lift Detroit over Kent State , 61-60. Goode had 21 points in Detroit 's losses to Butler and Valparaiso, and scored 22 in Detroit's loss to TAMU-CC on Monday night..
Goode blossomed as a playmaker as a sophomore when he topped 100 assists for the season. Last season, Goode started six games but saw action in all 30 of the Titans' contests Goode third on the team in scoring (9.2 ppg), while finishing fourth with 44 assists. Goode scored in double figures 16 times, including one stretch of five games in a row down the stretch last season. Goode led the team in three-point baskets made (49) and attempted (130)
Junior forward Chris Hayes (6-9, 190) is averaging 10.4 points and is leading the team in rebounds with 5.6 a game. Hayes is shooting a very high 55.4% field goal percentage, including 9-of-14 from 3-point range. Last season Hayes started all 30 games, was third on the team in minutes (737), fifth in scoring (5.2) and second in rebounding (3.6) and blocked shots (11). Hayes went 10-for-34 behind the three-point line as a sophomore after never even attempting a triple try as a freshman Hayes scored in double figures five times, with career-high games of 14 points
Sophomore guard Josh Samarco (6-2, 190) is averaging 10 points a game, including 21-of-49 3-pointers.
Senior guard Zach Everingham (6-4, 180), sophomore guard Woody Payne (5-10, 160), and sophomore forward Nemanja Jokic (6-6, 220) are each averaging about 5 points and 3 rebounds a game. Detroit is a much better team than the Aggies have faced in their last two games against Texas State and Ark - Pine Bluff .
Like the Texas State and Arkansas - Pine Bluff games, the Aggies should once again dominate on the inside. Look for Detroit to throw in some larger bench players in an effort to counter the Aggies' inside advantage - players like junior forward Michael Harrington (6-8, 230), sophomore center Justin Sample (6-8, 235), and freshman center Russell Allen (6-8, 255).
Detroit has made a high 42% of their 3-point attempts (71-of-169 ), and is averaging 47% from the field. The tough Aggie defense has only allowed 36% from the field and 33% from 3-point range, so something will have to give.
The main reason for Detroit's 15-point loss to TAMU-CC on Monday night is that they only shot 38%. Had they shot their usual 47%+, this would have been a very close game.
The Titan guard play and shooting could challenge the Aggies. If Detroit can make some shots, don't be surprised if this game is closer than you might expect.
However, the Aggie defense and inside game should enable Texas A&M to pull away for at least a 15-point win.
At some point this season, the Aggies will need to start making those free throws they have been missing and this could be that game.