Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Game Preview - Texas A&M

Texas A&M, currently ranked 15th in the AP poll, steps into Coleman for a big game. Game time is 6 PM. The game will be shown on the SEC Network, but the hope is that Alabama fans will turn out in force to help this Bama team notch their fourth win against a top 25 opponent. As I mentioned, this is a big game. Not just for Alabama, seeking some big wins down the stretch to perhaps sneak into the NCAA Tournament discussion, but for A&M as well, seeking to end a 3-game conference skid that has seen them fall from the top of the standings. The Aggies are only a game out of first place at the moment, but it was a similar struggle down the stretch last season that ultimately kept the program out of the NCAA Tournament. I don't expect this Aggies team to be absent on Selection Sunday, but they do need to get refocused as the season enters its final weeks.  

Stats


Alabama
Texas A&M



68.0 PPG 76.9
67.8 OPP 65.4
.429 FG% .456
.403 OPP .408
50.1 EFG% 52.6
46.0 OPP 47.4
.333 3PT% .366
.324 OPP .333
.652 FT% .656
.682 OPP .628
41.0 FTRATE 40.5
38.5 OPP 33.8
35.4 RPG 38.4
37.7 OPP 34.9
28.8 OREB% 34.0
33.5 OPP 30.7
14.2 TOPG 12.3
12.9 OPP 15.7
20.9 TO% 17.7
18.9 OPP 23.2
  
Jalen Jones (Sr. 6'7, 220 lbs) leads the Aggies in scoring (16.0) and rebounding (7.2), becoming a candidate for All-SEC and Player of the Year honors in the process. Jones is an effort guy on both ends of the court, fueling this A&M team when they need a basket or stops on the defensive end.  As a result, he can hold his own as an undersized player at the 4, as well as become a match-up problem due to his ability to knock down 3's or take bigger defenders off the dribble. His energy does get the best of him at times as he's prone to foul trouble. But this is a deep team so there are other options if Jones struggles.

Danuel House (Sr. 6'7, 212 lbs) is another All-SEC candidate with current averages of 15.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.4 apg. Maybe the best pure scorer on this team, House is capable of scoring 30 on a good day. Opposing big men have been trouble for this Alabama team so Tyler Davis (Fr. 6'10, 265) could have a career night. Davis (11.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 65% FG) has only scratched the surface of his potential. An offseason of strength and conditioning, and Davis could be a megastar in this league next season. That said, he's not too shabby this season, and I fully expect him to be a real pain in the butt for Bama's soft interior tomorrow night. Other notable players for A&M include Alex Caruso (8.3 ppg, 5.1 apg, 2.2 spg), Anthony Collins (4.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 47% 3-pt, 93% FT), DJ Hogg (6.7 ppg), Admon Gilder (6.7 ppg), Tonny Trocha-Morelos (7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg). Yeah, this is a deep team.

It's been a constant issue for Alabama this year, but they must value the ball (this A&M team really excels in transition), compete on the boards, and they must knock down 8-10 3-point shots (A&M have allowed an average of 11 made 3's per game during this 3-game losing streak) if they want to win this game. A&M is the deeper, more talented team, but they are vulnerable right now, and even looked vulnerable on the road when they raced out to a 7-0 start in conference play. This will be a difficult challenge for this Alabama team, but not an impossible one. We've already seen how well this coaching staff prepares our guys to play. I expect them to be ready to play, but they must execute, the crowd must provide a home-court environment, and the production of Alabama's own All-SEC contender (Retin) will be key.

The fact that we are still discussing the NCAA Tournament as a possibility for an Alabama team picked to finish 13th in the preseason SEC poll is amazing, and a testament to these players and coaching staff. If this team truly can make a run at Selection Sunday, the next three games will present huge opportunities against three of the best teams in the SEC with A&M tomorrow and back-to-back road games at Florida and LSU. First and foremost, they must protect home court and add another top 25 victim to the growing list. Buckle Up!      

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