A&M vs. Kansas: Big Monday Match Up

In the heart of the most difficult beginning conference schedule in Big 12 history, the Aggies face off against the Jayhawks tonight on Big Monday. Coach Turgeon will have a chance to notch his first win against his former team, and the Aggies will look to strengthen their case for a bid in March. Aggie Websider takes a look at tonight's match up.

There is no rest for the Aggies this week, who continue their brutal stretch of games by heading to Lawrence, Kansas for Big Monday's match up against the Jayhawks. These two teams have met a total of 14 times, and Kansas leads the series 13-1, with the only loss coming at the hands of giant killer Acie Law. However, Kansas lost nearly every contributer from last year's championship team, and it is still unclear whether to apply the "rebuild" or "reload" tag to this years young and inexperienced squad. Still, 2nd year coach Mark Turgeon has yet to win at his alma mater and will need a good showing on Monday to keep his Aggies' tournament hopes alive and well. Here are the projected starters for Kansas, and the match ups with each position.

Projected Starters:

G - Brady Morningstar – So. (7.1ppg, 2.9apg)
G – Sherron Collins – Jr. (18.5ppg, 5.2apg)
G – Tyshawn Taylor – Fr. (10.4ppg, 3.2apg)
G – Mario Little – Jr. (2.2ppg, 2.4rpg)
C – Cole Aldrich – So. (15.3ppg, 9.8rpg)
Match Ups

Brady Morningstar vs. Donald Sloan

Morningstar's stats may not be as impressive as Sloan's, who averages 11.6ppg and 3.3apg, but he is still exactly what Kansas needs out of their point guard position. Before the last game against Colorado, Morningstar had not turned the ball over in three straight games, and led the team with incredible poise for a sophomore. He also shoots efficiently if not often – he is 46% from behind the 3-point arc. Having said that, Sloan has shown to be a more than capable leader with the ball after struggling for much of last year, and has developed into a go-to guy especially at the free-throw line. Morningstar could get hot from outside and take this match up, but on any given day Sloan is the guy you take.

Advantage: A&M

Sherron Collins vs. Derrick Roland

The last remaining main contributer from the senior-laden team of last year, Collins is the undisputed leader and is showing it on the court; he ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring with 18.5ppg. He is also improving on his 3 point shot, and is .388 on the year. He gets a tough draw this week against A&M's premier defender Derrick Roland, who not only has great footwork but has 4 inches on the smaller Collins. Roland is still in the process of discovering his potential on the offensive side of the ball, but he should be able to frustrate Kansas' leading man defensively for most of the game.

Advantage: Kansas

Tyshawn Taylor vs. Josh Carter

While just a freshman, Taylor has put together some very impressive games offensively, and currently averages just over 10 points per contest. A streaky shooter, Tyshawn nonetheless has an excellent shot and shoots over 50% from the field. However, undersized as the three man in Kansas' rotation at only 6'3", he does not get to the basket much, and is not an effective rebounder. Additionally, he is only shooting 68% on free throws, compared with Carter's Big 12 leading .881. Carter's size, experience, and scoring ability give him the advantage here, although he must be careful not to disappear as he has done before during crucial road games.

Advantage: A&M

Mario Little vs. Bryan Davis

Perhaps no match up highlights the difference in these two team's style of play than this one, as Mario stands at just 6'5" while Davis is a towering 6'9". If these two are asked to guard each other, it will make for an interesting mismatch on both ends of the court. The edge here goes to Davis, who can use his post moves and drop step to move around slimmer bodies seemingly at will. On the other hand, Little, a junior transfer, has never fully gotten back his extra step after overcoming a stress fracture in his foot and a broken hand earlier this year.

Advantage A&M

Cole Aldrich vs. Chinemelu Elonu

While an easier draw than the front runner for National Player of the Year Blake Griffin, Aldrich will be another tough test for the blossoming Elonu. Currently, Cole is second in the Big 12 in rebounding (9.8), and leads the league in blocked shots (2.8) and field goal percentage (.642). A stark contrast to Kansas' four guard, quick moving rotation, Aldrich hogs the paint and has excellent footwork and finishing moves to get to the rim. Elonu plays a similar style of game in the paint, and is close to Cole's totals in almost every category. Playing his best game, Junior can match Aldrich point for point, rebound for rebound, and block for block, but on an average day Cole has him beat.

Advantage: Kansas

Overall Thoughts:

Similar to Baylor and Oklahoma State before them, Kansas likes to utilize a 4 guard set and focus on running the court and good ball movement to find the open shot. Four of their starters have a better assist total than rebounds, but yet as a team they are second in the Big 12 in rebounding differential with +6.1 per game. While lacking usual star power, they are a deep team, and Head Coach Bill Self knows how to get the most out of his players.

On the flip side, Texas A&M has played very solid basketball in its last two games, but came up short on Saturday facing number 5 Oklahoma. If this game was played in Reed Arena, it would be much easier to pick Mark Turgeon gaining his first win over his former team, but since he will be enjoying his first visit as the opposing coach to Allen Fieldhouse, it makes this game much more difficult to predict. The key for A&M should be Josh Carter, who drastically changes A&M's winning percentage every game he can get to double figures. As long as he can take advantage of his freshman counterpart, the Aggies should be able to pull of the minor upset on the road.

Texas A&M: 74
Kansas: 71

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