Aggies look for 1st road win at Kansas State

The No. 9-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (15-2) will be looking for their first road win of the season and to rebound from a tough loss to Texas Tech when they travel to Manhattan to face the Kansas State Wildcats (11-4) in a nationally televised contest. Kansas State is led by super freshman forward Michael Beasley (left). Tony Hooten provides an indepth preview of the Aggie-Wildcats clash.

The No. 9-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (15-2) will be looking for their first road win of the season and to rebound from a tough loss to Texas Tech when they travel to Manhattan to face the Kansas State Wildcats (11-4) in a nationally televised contest.

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Texas A&M saw their 8-game winning streak come to a crashing end Wednesday night in Lubbock when Texas Tech handed the Aggies an embarrassing 68-53 defeat that was not as close as the final score indicated.

Kansas State has had a week to prepare for the Aggies, after defeating Oklahoma in Norman 84-82 last Saturday night. Kansas State has won 6 of their last 7 games.

Texas A&M won last season's Kansas State battle in College Station, 69-65, a game in which Aggie forward Joseph Jones scored 17 points and pulled down 9 rebounds.

Kansas State is led by super freshman forward Michael Beasley (6-10, 235), pictured above, and redshirt freshman forward Bill Walker (6-6, 220).

Michael Beasley came out of high school a consensus Top 5 recruit, rated by Scout.com as the No. 2 high prospect in the country and by Rivals.com as the No. 1 prospect.

Beasley was a member of the 2007 USA Basketball under-19 World Championship roster and helped the U.S. to an 8-1 record and a silver medal at the 2007 FIBA World Championship in Novi Sad, Serbia Beasley averaged 12.3 points on 55.1 percent shooting with 5.3 rebounds with six starts.

Beasley has started every game for Kansas State this season and is averaging 24.8 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots a game. Beasley has scored 30 or more points in six games and has only been held under 19 points in 2 games. Beasley scored a season high 40 points in the Wildcats win over Winston Salem and had 32 points and 12 rebounds in last Saturday's win over Oklahoma.

Bill Walker came out of high school a consensus Top 10 recruit, rated by Scout.com as the No. 8 high prospect in the country and by Rivals.com as the No. 6 prospect.

Walker saw action in just six games with five starts as a true freshman before suffered a season-ending rupture of the anterior crucial ligament (ACL) in his left knee against Texas A&M. Walker had successful surgery on Jan. 19 and began the rehabilitation process on Jan. 27. Walker received a medical redshirt.

Walker has come back strongly from his injury. This season Walker is averaging 15.8 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. Walker scored 31 points in Kansas St's loss to Xavier, 30 points in their win over California, and 22 points in last Saturday's win over Oklahoma.

Other projected starters for the Wildcats are senior guard Blake Young (6,-2, 195, 6.5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists), senior guard Clent Stuart (6-4, 195, 8 points, 3,assists, 3 rebounds), and either junior forward Andre Gilbert (6-7, 185, 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) or frshman guard Jacob Pullen (6-1, 175, 9.5 points, 3.5 assists).

Frank Martin is in his first year as head coach of Kansas State. Martin was a member of Kansas State's staff during the 2006-07 season and was promoted to become the school's 22nd head men's basketball coach on April 6, 2007.

To get a better feel for just how good Kansas State is, the Wildcats are rated No. 47 (of 341) in Jeff Sagarin's Basketball Ratings.

Kansas State's most impressive wins this season have been last Saturday's 84-82 win at Oklahoma (No. 38) and a 82-75 home win over California (No. 53) . Kansas State's most disappointing losses have been a 27-point drubbung by Xavier (No. 16) and an 87-77 home loss to George Mason (No. 87)

By contrast, Texas A&M has seen their Sagarin rating drop from No. 17 to No. 24 as a result of the Tech loss.

Texas A&M's most impressive wins have been its 23-point win over Ohio St (No. 25) and its 14-point win over Washington (No. 65). A&M's two losses have been by 11 points to Arizona (No. 28) and by 15 points to Texas Tech (moved up to No. 80).

The one common opponent, Florida A&M, the Aggies beat by 29 points at home, while Kansas State won by 27 points at home.

Texas A&M is expected to start the same lineup as it has for all 17 games: junior forward Josh Carter (6-7, 200), senior forward Joseph Jones (6-9, 255), freshman center DeAndre Jordan (7-0, 260), sophomore guard Donald Sloan (6-3, 205) and senior guard Dominique Kirk (6-4, 185).

Carter leads the Aggies in scoring with 13.4 points a game and has hit 41 three-pointers. Jones is averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds a game. True freshman Jordan has been coming on strong and is now averaging over 10 points and 7 rebounds a game. Sloan and Kirk are each averaging about 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists a game.

With the Aggie winning margin over 16 games over 20 points prior to the Tech loss, the Aggie starters have only averaged about 25 minutes a game.

First off the bench amd averaging over 20 minutes a game have been sophomore forward Bryan Davis (6-9, 250) and sophomore guard Derrick Roland (6-4, 190). Davis is averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds a game, while Roland is averaging 7 points and 3 rebounds.

Other Aggies who have seen significant playing time are sophomore forward Chinemelu Elonu (6-10, 235), true freshman guard B.J. Holmes (6-0, 175), true freshman forward Nathan Walkup (6-6, 195), and senior guard Beau Muhlbach (6-5, 205).

Kansas State's strength is their front court of Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. The two forwards acount for over 40 points and almost 20 rebounds a game.

The Aggies will need their inside depth of Joseph Jones, DeAndre Jordan, Bryan Davis, and Chinemelu Elonu to contain Beasley and Walker. Don't be surprised if two or three of the Aggies big men get into foul trouble in this game, especially on the road.

The Aggies will have to get a lot more production from its starter, especially the inside trio of Jones, Jordan, and Kirk - a Tech-like performace of 25 points and 16 rebounds total from these three and the Aggies will not win this game.

The Aggies will have to overcome lots of self-doubt following their two embarassing road losses to Arizona and especially Texas Tech.

This Kansas State game will be a true test for the Aggies and could project what kind of season the Aggies will have. The Aggies will either learn to play and win on the road, or most of their Big 12 road games will be in doubt.

The A&M program is probably questioning the wisdom of a 45-day homestand against weak competition. Coach Turgeon inherited this schedule but I'd expect to see some changes in the future.

I expect this game to be a nail-biter and be decided in the final minute.

My pick: Texas A&M 68, Kansas State 66 (I hope).


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