It hasn't gotten any easier since the last time these two teams have met. Despite both being picked in the top half of the competitive Big 12, the Aggies and Cowboys are a combined 3-6 after the contest in Stillwater. Both teams meet this weekend looking to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive in what is a key game for both teams. Texas A&M is looking to avenge the loss they were handed in Gallagher-Iba Arena, while the Cowboys are make it two straight against the Aggies.
These two teams, while in the same boat for the post-season projections, could not be more different. It is not uncommon for Oklahoma State to lose after an 80-plus point outing, while Texas A&M finds ways to stay in contests despite going on frequent scoring droughts of 5 minutes or longer. The differences these two teams posses will make the most difference in several key matchups highlighted below.
Donald Sloan vs. Byron Eton
Eton has improved steadily each year he has been with the Cowboys, and his senior year is no exception – he is leading the team with an impressive 5.8 assists per contest. He is a very capable floor general for Oklahoma State, and while his shooting is at times streaky he maintains the composure needed at the point guard position.
Sloan is coming off of one of the worst shooting performances of his career, going 1-9 from the field against Texas Tech. His play has deteriorated as of late as many feel that he is playing out of position, but the lack of a true point guard has forced him to step up into the number one role. He will need to find his shot early against this fast paced pack of Cowboy guards.
Advantage: Oklahoma State
Derrick Roland vs. Obi Muonelo
Muonelo, arguably Oklahoma State's premier perimeter shooter will be matched up against the defensive specialist in Derrick Roland. Muonelo averages 15.5 points per contest with baskets coming largely from outside the 3-point arc.
However, with the recent success of 6th man B.J. Holmes, expect to see more of this matchup, as it takes advantage of Muonelo's deficiencies on defense. Last time they met, Holmes went for a then career-best 19 points, and after his scoring streak against Tech he could very well best those numbers.
Advantage: Texas A&M
Josh Carter vs. Terrel Harris
While Josh may not exactly be having nightmares about Harris he has to be pretty close. The last time these two met, Josh was held scoreless for the first time in his history. While once considered a potential first round selection in the draft, Carter has disappeared in games against aggressive defenders like Harris.
Harris also contributes rather well on the offensive side of the glass, shooting just under 50% from the field. In many games, however his offensive strengths have been forced to the bench, as he averages 3.4 fouls per game. If Carter can drive to the basket and force some fouls from Harris, it could pay dividends with softer defenders later on in the game.
Advantage: Oklahoma State
Power Forward / Swing Guard
Bryan Davis vs. James Anderson
Who knows how this matchup will turn out? A&M's strength is with its size while the Cowboys play with quickness and speed, and neither seems very willing to bend to the other's style of play, leading to this awkward pairing of athletes with very different skills.
Last contest, the advantage had to go to Anderson, who scored 10 points to Davis' four, after the later shot only 2-6 from the field. A&M has continued to struggle in the interior and cannot afford to continue this habit if it is to match the Pokes score for score, especially at this position.
Chinemelu Elonu vs. Malcoln Kirkland
This is where the Aggies must hit and hit hard. Kirkland is averaging 2.1 fouls in just 11 minutes per game, and the last time these two met Elonu ended with a career best. The Cowboys simply have no answer for Elonu's tenaciousness in the paint, and not only must he capitalize on points but on rebounding as well.
Malcoln will be spelled by Marshall Moses as well as a host of others, but whoever it is will most likely see help from a crashing guard; the new in vogue way to shut down the Aggies' offense. If and when this happens, Elonu must be prepared to make a strong pass to the wing for the open jumper, and if he can force single coverage again, this will be a productive day for the Aggie bigs.
Advantage: Texas A&M
It speaks volumes that Texas A&M does not have a single player inside the top 20 in the Big 12 in scoring. This team must find an identity and a leader if it is to make a run into March, and what better way to jump start a struggling offense than against a team that forces you to score and score again due to their frantic pace.
The key to this game will be defense. Too many times on Wednesday did A&M allow an undersized guard to get an easy if not completely uncontested basket off of a fast break, which absolutely cannot happen against the faster and more talented Cowboy squad. With solid effort on D, Texas A&M can absorb a scoring drought or two and still get the home win at Reed Arena.
Texas A&M 86
Oklahoma State 82
A&M vs. OSU: Matchup Preview
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