A&M vs. Oklahoma Matchup Preview

The games just keep getting bigger for Texas A&M, as it hosts the #5 Sooners on Saturday. With the Aggies looking to continue their momentum from Wednesday's big win into the weekend, Aggie Websider takes a look at the starting five matchups to see who will come out ahead when the dust settles at Reed.

Projected Sooner Lineup

G – Austin Johnson (7.1ppg, 4.3 apg)
G – Willie Warren (15.9ppg, 2.8apg)
G – Tony Crocker (10.8ppg, 3.5rpg)
F – Taylor Griffin (8.9ppg, 6.8rpg)
F – Blake Griffin (22.4ppg, 13.8rpg)

Austin Johnson vs. Donald Sloan

Previously considered the main weak spot in the Sooner lineup, Johnson has played thus far with the typical poise of a senior, and he currently leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio. Austin is not a huge scorer, and prefers to sit back and dish the ball on offense while utilizing his quickness on defense. Sloan has almost 30 pounds on Johnson, and should use his body to attempt to get reach in fouls to get to the free-throw line. Sloan is still leading the Big 12 in free throw percentage, and if he can limit turnovers he should be able to win this battle.

Advantage: A&M

Willie Warren vs. Derrick Roland

These two could not be more different, and yet they will be paired up when these teams go on Saturday. Warren is the high profile, flashy guard who has incredible ability to drive into the lane and finish his shots. Roland, on the other hand, is the underappreciated defensive specialist who rarely finishes in double digits. While the edge may go to the freshman phenom, it is closer than it may seem – Roland has incredible feet, and should be able to keep up with Warren's driving ability without drawing a foul. The key in this matchup is if Warren is on with the three ball. He has been streaky all season, but if he is feeling the outside shot then there may be no stopping him.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Tony Crocker vs. Josh Carter

Who knows what to say about Josh Carter at this point? One game after being shut out for the first time in his career, he has an otherworldly second half against Baylor that showcased moves fans knew he had, but that he rarely used. One consistent with Josh however is that he at time will become frustrated with smothering defense – exactly the type of defense Crocker has become known for. While Crocker may not have a single stat that bests Carter's, he still has a chance at coming out the victor on Saturday.

Advantage: Push

Taylor Griffin vs. Bryan Davis

Brother Blake may be stealing the accolades in Norman, but it cannot completely hide the excellent compliment he has in Taylor. Content with a supporting role, he is still remarkably efficient, and moves extremely well under the basket. Coming in at only 6'7", Davis will have a chance to have a big outing for A&M, but he needs to show the fire and consistency he had in the second half against Baylor every game for him to be considered once again the premier scoring threat down low. Still, Davis should be able to match T. Griffin step for step in production.

Advantage: Push

Blake Griffin vs. Chinemelu Elonu

Watching Elonu play over the past 8 or 9 games has like been watching a home movie on fast forward – he has completely grown up before our very eyes. Where once he was timid and reckless he is now confident and efficient, and he has been the key to just about every victory the Aggies have had in the past month. Having said all of that, it simply does not hold a candle to Griffin, who is arguably the best player in college basketball today. Only a sophomore, he has improved a great deal since last year and is the most complete player the Sooners have had in a very long time. Against Oklahoma State and Baylor Chinemelu has gotten spoiled with subpar interior matchups, so it will be interesting to see how he handles someone of Griffin's caliber. Regardless, the Sooner offense will not run but through Blake.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Overall Thoughts

The Sooners are off to their best start in 23 years and are ranked #5 in the country. The only glaring weakness the Sooners have is their lack of depth, but some argue that you don't need depth when your starting five is playing at the level Jeff Capel has them playing at. If this were in Norman, it would be easier to predict a Sooner rout but A&M has been near invincible in Reed Arena as of late.

It remains to be seen if the dominant performance the Aggies put up against Baylor was a coming out party or simply a flash of greatness in an otherwise mediocre season, but there will be no better test than this upcoming game on Saturday. However, Scott Drew is no Jeff Capel. The Sooners play defense, and they play it well. The Aggies will unlikely leave the court with single digit turnovers for the second straight game, but if A&M shows up like it did on Wednesday, this game will go down to the wire. And because of the depth issues, should this game need more than just regulation you have to like A&M's chances.


Texas A&M: 65
Oklahoma: 63 (OT)

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