The Aggies host the Red Raiders tonight, with a win further solidifying Texas A&M's bid for March Madness. While this game is a "should win" for A&M, you have to look no further than one week ago when the Red Raiders dismantled #9 Kansas 84-65. In order to ensure victory, here are the 5 things A&M must do in tonight's game.
#1. Start Hot
There is perhaps no bigger dynamic to the A&M season then how the team starts the game. Within 5 minutes a fan can tell when the team has been pumped up or when it is playing simply not to lose. With momentum on their side, shots are taken with confidence, and defense is played at a more frenzied pace; exactly what this team needs. There are examples where A&M has been able to shrug off an early slump (Colorado, Arizona) but on the whole this is the number one contributor to the team's success.
#2. Feed the Ball Down Low
Since his blazing start, Chinemelu Elonu has cooled off somewhat in the interior, scoring only 9 points combined in the last two contests. In addition, Bryan Davis has somewhat regressed this season, and has had an issue holding on to the ball when he gets double teamed. Still, the place to attack the Raider defense is in the paint, and the trifecta of Elonu, Davis, and freshman David Loubeau have scored 30 points each contest against the Raiders. Feeding them the ball early and often will allow them to reach that total again, and hopefully carry the team.
#3. Put Roland on the Hot Hand
Coming as a surprise to no one, Derrick Roland was named onto the Big 12 all-defensive team. His reputation of shutting down premier perimeter players extends beyond College Station, but the problem with Tech is that they have two players of equal caliber in John Roberson and Alan Voskuil. These two guards account for an average of over 12 3-point shots a game, and make up the majority of the raider's scoring. Luckily for A&M, the two seem to complement each other in terms of who gets hot which night, and it will be up to Turgeon to recognize early on whose night it is and be prepared to stick Roland on that man.
#4. Bring on the Fast Pace
This may seem somewhat counterintuitive with the inside and outside strengths of each team, but the Aggies are simply too good when they play all out at both ends. Donald Sloan, for all his weaknesses at point guard, is a master at attacking the basket and drawing a foul. The Raiders are paper thin down low, so if presses and half court sets are run with the intention of immediately attacking, it will force Tech to foul out its players or allow easy layups or dish passes inside.
#5. Find our own Rainmaker
B.J. Holmes must remember the first time that he played Texas Tech this year. At least the Big 12 record book does. In that game he hit the first 6 3-pointers he took and finished with 24 points. Josh Carter barely hit double digits. In the second match however the tables turned. It was Josh Carter's turn to go off for 20 points, while B.J. left with only five. If both of these players find their groove, the other 4 keys are moot and we can begin getting ready for round two, but assuming the trend continues, Turgeon must experiment till he finds his shooter of the night. Who knows, maybe this time it will be Dash.
5 Keys to Victory: Texas Tech
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