During the first half I was beginning to think my misfortune was a blessing in disguise. We played yet another horrendous first half of basketball. We had no movement or spacing on offense, too many turnovers, and stubbornly stuck to a zone defense despite an obvious inability to rebound out of it. We trailed by 14, and appeared to be in danger of being run out of the gym.
I know this season has been a disappointment, but you have to love how these guys never quit. We looked like a completely different team in the second half. We actually moved the ball crisply on offense and attacked the basket, getting the Aggies into foul trouble early in the second half. This opened up a lot of options for us. Meanwhile Jimmie Taylor was a beast defensively. The Aggies insisted on trying to work the ball inside, and Jimmie would not let them get a decent shot off. More importantly, they were one and done on every trip. We were able to turn that 14 point halftime deficit into a 4 point lead.
The 8 to 5 minute mark was as exciting as you will see in college basketball, with both team exchanging 3s and the lead in a close game. With the exception of Riley Norris, all of our starters scored in double digits, and Dakota Slaughter had another nice game off the bench making a couple of huge 3s and contributing with 8 points. Retin, Coop, Levi, and Jimmie all stepped up big time in the second half.
The team showed a lot of heart in not throwing in the towel when down big early, but more importantly fighting back every time the Aggies retook the lead, and ultimately making the defensive stops at the end of the game in a hostile environment.
With the win, we finish the regular season with an 18-13 record, 8-10 in the SEC. I haven't looked at all the tiebreaker scenarios to be certain, but I believe this puts us in 8th or 9th place. I guess this probably puts us in good position to make the NIT, for whatever that is worth.
Up Next, the SEC tournament! It's a new season. One of the things I love about college basketball is the "second chance" aspect of March. Even the worst teams out there, theoretically and mathematically at least still have a chance to win it all. I'll update this when the bracket is finalized, but more than likely we will be playing either Vandy or Florida at noon Thursday in Nashville. Unfortunately, this means if we win, we would have a date with undefeated Kentucky Friday.