Officiating a Factor: The Aggies played a fine defensive ballgame, and hats off to them. But the officiating certainly facilitated A&M's defensive effort as well.
The Aggies played an extremely physical game on defense. They grabbed, they held, they rode, they bit, and they flat out hit people with scarcely a peep from the zebras. Despite the extremely physical play, A&M was called for only 11 fouls (no Aggie was whistled for more than two), while the comparatively passive Red Raiders were called for 14 infractions.
The classic example of the officiating double standard came with about three minutes left in the game and Tech trailing by four points. Ty Nurse attempted to hand the ball to Javarez Willis beyond the three-point line. Aggie guard Khris Middleton literally ran Willis and Nurse over in attempt to make the steal, and miraculously, Nurse was whistled for the foul. Bizarre calls such as this were par for the course, particularly in the second half.
More Physical Guards Needed: The unfortunate reality of basketball these days is that some officiating crews will allow teams to hack and maul to their heart's content on defense. And in those situations it is critical to have guards who are physical enough to shoulder aside the rough stuff and not be adversely affected.
Tech's small guard trio of Willis, Adams and Nurse was unable to do this, and Kevin Wagner would not have provided an antidote either. Toddrick Gotcher and the incoming JUCO guards will hopefully provide the Red Raiders with the guard physicality they'll need to win games in which the officials see no evil and hear no evil.
Offensive Ineptitude, and How! After a near perfect start which saw the Red Raiders race to a 24-9 lead over Texas A&M with 6:38 left in first half, Tech scored all of 14 points on six of 25 shooting in the remaining 33:22. That's 24 percent from the field.
And this time, the lack of scoring cannot be attributed to turnovers. The Red Raiders turned it over a relatively modest 13 times against the Aggies.
No, this Antarctic chill was attributable to good Texas A&M defense, horrendous shooting, poor offensive rebounding (Tech grabbed only five offensive rebounds), and a failure to get to the charity stripe (the Red Raiders shot an astonishing two free throws the entire game). But if Tech had hit just three of its open jumpers, this game might have turned out differently. The eternal "if"!
Puzzling Are the Ways of the Giants…to pedestrian and conventional minds such as mine. In the second half when the Aggies were making their inexorable charge to victory, they did it with the offensive rebound. Tech repeatedly forced A&M into misses but could not for the love of God clear the defensive glass. The Aggies snared 15 offensive rebounds, the vast majority of which came in the second half.
During this crucial stretch—indeed, throughout the game—Billy Gillispie rigidly kept to a three-guard alignment featuring the diminutive Luke Adams to go along with Javarez Willis and Ty Nurse. Consequently, either Jordan Tolbert, Robert Lewandowski or Jaye Crockett was on the bench. Never were all three in the game simultaneously.
Perhaps I'm a bit dense, but it seems only logical that when you can't buy a rebound, that's the time to go big. And Gillispie has a reputation for liking big basketball teams. Go figure.