The Aggie hoopsters walk into a bonus Christmas present for the team after their win against LSU last Saturday in that they may not be tested again until conference play opens up at Oklahoma St. on January 10th. Before that game they challenge 4 mid-major teams, and first on that list is the Sam Houston St. Bearkats. State is 5-5 on the year and has yet to find a win over a solid opponent, losing their only chance in Lubbock against Texas Tech. They travel this Sunday for another chance against A&M in College Station.
Sam Houston St. Personnel
The Bearkats live and die by their guard play, led by freshman Corey Allmond. Allmond is averaging 14.5 points per game most of which coming from behind the three point arc. In fact, the entire fortunes of the Bearkats ballclub seems to sway with the accuracy of their 3-point shot, as they launch it from the outside on average 20 times per game.
Rounding out the guards are junior Ashton Mitchell and senior DeLuis Ramirez, who, at just 6'4", also happens to be the team's leading rebounder. Also making an impact is 6th man Lance Pevehouse, who is another player who loves to shoot the three although he is 28% on the year. Allmond, Mitchell and Ramirez each average in the double figures, and A&M will need to play hard on the outside to contest the long shot.
On the inside, the Bearkats have struggled this year to find any consistency in the paint. Currently, the projected starters are freshman Preston Brown and senior Barkley Falkner, although neither has been overly effective as of late. They have particularly had problems with bigger, more physical post men, and at times will put in 6'10" center Domas Kvedys to try and contain the opposing big.
On defense, A&M must go all out to stop the outside shot, particularly from Almond. He is hitting 50.8% on the year from outside, one of the highest freshman marks in the country. Standing at just 6'1", it should give A&M some options on who to stick on him, and at the very least will allow all the guards to switch on to him. The Bearkats love to set screens on the perimeter, so a timely switch will prevent an uncontested three.
On offense, A&M should continue to ride the wave of Chinemelu's emergence as a formidable player in the Aggie lineup and feed him the ball early and often. Sam Houston St.'s big men both average over 3 fouls per game, and what is already a flaw turns into a gaping weakness for the Bearkats if those two are forced on the bench early. This will also be a good opportunity for Elonu to work on his passing in the paint, as many times he becomes focused solely on the rim after he takes his first dribble. This will pay dividends come conference time, as fellow post Bryan Davis is a natural at slipping behind a defender without the ball.
Texas A&M continues to play up or down to their competition, but hopefully they will break that slump with a solid performance on Sunday. If the Aggies can avoid yet another poor showing coming out of either the initial tip or the locker room at half, coach Turgeon should be able to give his young guys some more game time experience in the second half. If they stumble and/or Sam Houston St. gets hot from the outside, however, this game could be another last-minute thriller.
Texas A&M 72
Sam Houston St. 58
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