Three shots. It took three shots to save two games and possibly one bid to the big dance for Texas A&M. After rallying in dramatic fashion to beat Arizona, the Aggies knocked off Alabama with two clutch three pointers by Nathan Walkup and B.J. Holmes to send the game into overtime. From there, the Aggies held the Tide to 0 field goals and cruised to a 9 point victory. However, A&M has no time to celebrate their impressive wins as the contest in Tuscaloosa was game one of a four game stretch in eight days before the Ags break for Christmas break. Game two will be held tonight against the Florida A&M Rattlers, back in Reed Arena.
This is the second matchup in as many years for these two A&M teams, with Texas A&M hosting its Florida counterpart in Reed Arena last year, which the Aggies won 83-54. This will be an important contest for the Aggies, as they need a game where they can concentrate on factors of the game that have almost cost them victories over the last two.
First, the Aggies will have a chance to come out of the blocks better than they have each of the last two games. Texas A&M trailed both Arizona and Alabama by 15 points early in the games, and must try to start off tonight with a better effort. Coach Turgeon explicitly called out the defensive game of the players at today's press conference, mentioning that the intensity needs to be intact from the opening tip if they are to be successful in the Big 12. Offensively they will try to get Josh Carter in the same groove he was in last year against the Rattlers, where he scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half.
The Aggies will also have the advantage of being able to take advantage of the surprising depth that has developed on this Texas A&M squad. While Turgeon stated he "expects to begin with" his usual starting five of Donald Sloan, Derrick Roland, Josh Carter, Chinemelu Elonu, and Bryan Davis, expect for B.J. Holmes, Nathan Walkup, and David Loubeau to see significant minutes as well.
B.J. Holmes has been the talk of the team recently, and with good reason. Over the past three games he has averaged 15 points per game, and he brings an offensive potency to the shooting guard position that the Aggies have not had in a long time. In addition, he nabbed 7 rebound in the Tide win, which is very impressive for a player only 6 feet tall by the numbers on the stat sheet.
Height will not be a factor against tonight's Rattler team, as the Florida A&M starting five gives up 22 combined inches against the Aggie starters. This should also help Nathan Walkup have an impact in the game with his back to the basket, that is, if he is not busy hitting crucial three pointers. While the Rattlers have snapped a three-game losing skid by beating Kinnesaw State on Saturday, the Aggies should have no trouble with game two of the four game stretch as they look ahead to SMU on Wednesday.
Aggies gear up for contest against Rattlers
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