Texas A&M is not comfortable losing three straight. In fact, since the regrettable 0-16 season of 2003-2004, the Aggies have lost three straight only one other time, in the 2005-2006 season. At that time, tournament prospects looked pretty bleak, but the Aggies responded by winning 8 of their last 9 games to make the tournament. A&M will need similar success for the rest of the conference games, but it starts with a favorable matchup tonight at home against unranked Texas Tech.
In addition to being back home in the comforts of Reed, the Aggies get Texas Tech at a good time, as the Raiders have struggled as of late and have committed around 20 turnovers per contest in the Big 12. Coach Knight said on Monday that he has been forced to utilize high school drills such as the three man weave to try and combat what for the most part has been unforced errors. If A&M can match those numbers in takeaways, it will be tough for Knight's Raiders to steal an upset victory. Let's take a look at the matchups.
Donald Sloan (11.6ppg, 3.7rpg) vs. John Roberson (14.1ppg, 5.9apg)
Roberson is the highlight of the team for Texas Tech, and is currently the Big 12 leader in assists at almost 6 per game. However, his high assist total is counterbalanced by his 3.7 turnovers per game, far greater than every other player in the contest. While Sloan is not entirely known for his defense, he has improved, and can finish any fast break opportunities he gets with steals.
Roberson also averages 2.5 fouls per game, high for a point guard compared to Sloan's 1.0, so Sloan has a chance of taking one of Tech's premier shooters out of the game by being aggressive driving to the basket. Roberson takes the slight edge in this matchup due to pure scoring potential.
Advantage: Texas Tech
Derrick Roland (5.4ppg, 2.3rpg) vs. Alan Voskuil (13.6ppg, 4.5rpg)
Voskuil is one of the hottest 3-point shooters in the nation this year, hitting 3 per game at a 46.3% clip. Roland will have a similar matchup as last week, where he will primarily try to defend the perimeter while fending off numerous screens. Although more difficult for Derrick than the matchups that involve a slashing guard, Roland has shown the capability to guard anywhere on the floor, and should keep Voskuil in check for most of the game.
In fact, the key in this matchup will most likely be Roland's performance on the offensive side of the ball. Over the last couple of games he has performed well when he takes shots with confidence, and looks to be on the verge of breaking out on offense. If that happens, Tech, and the rest of the Big 12, should watch out.
Josh Carter (12.9ppg, 4.2rpg) vs. D'Walyn Roberts (7.3ppg, 4.7ppg)
After drawing some of the hardest matchups in recent contests, Carter will have an easier time this week against the sophomore Roberts. D'Walyn plays more of an interior guy and does not like to be out on the wing, as he has limited to no 3-point accuracy. Instead, he concentrates on high percentage shots near the basket, where Josh can easily get help from his fellow forwards.
On the flip side, Josh is well known for his ability to score at will when the person opposite him is uncomfortable matching up on the outside. If D'Walyn is unwilling to guard tight on the outside, watch for get Josh to get plenty of open looks.
Advantage: Texas A&M
Bryan Davis (10.2ppg, 6.0rpg) vs. Michael Prince (3.8ppg, 3.2rpg)
No one needs this matchup more than Bryan Davis, who has seen his productivity slip for pretty much the course of the season. After breaking out last season, he has shown only brief spurts of the player Aggie fans know he is. He steps into a very favorable matchup this week against the veteran Prince, who has not been effective on the inside at all this season.
Prince will be replaced as well by Trevor Cook, but whoever is on the inside will give up significant height to Davis, who should be able to feast down on the low post as a 4. If Tech tries to imitate past opponents and double team Davis, he will need to do a better job finding the open guard, but otherwise should control this position.
Advantage: Texas A&M
Chinemelu Elonu (10.3ppg, 7.4rpg) vs. Robert Lewandowski (5.4ppg, 3.3rpg)
This is the tales of the unexpected matchup, with both players previously thought to only contribute minimally to their respective teams' season, and both having somewhat breakout years. Lewandowski's stats are more modest, but he has provided a nice break from 6th man Singletary, and takes high percentage shots and plays solid defense.
Unfortunately for the freshman, this pales in comparison with the job Chinemelu has done over the course of the season. While there are still flaws in his game – he must improve on passing out from the low post - he has been the closest to a sure thing the Aggies have had all season. Elonu should again feast over the weaker Tech interior, although Lewandowski's size will still play a factor.
Advantage: Texas A&M
The Aggies should get back on track for their quest of an NCAA bid with a win tonight at Reed. As poorly as they have played recently, they have too much talent to drop a home game to the likewise struggling Raiders. If Tech gets hot from behind the arc they can hang tight for most of the game, and each year have proven they are capable of knocking off a big team, but away from the comforts of Lubbock this will be a lot harder to come by.
Texas A&M: 74
Texas Tech: 59
A&M vs. Tech: Matchup Preview
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