It’s A&M’s First True Road Game
The Aggies spent 2016 exclusively playing at home or in neutral-site games. Tonight is their first test in a hostile, road environment.
Noteworthy Wins: Virginia Tech
Other than a 68-65 win over the Hokies, A&M has beaten nobody worth mentioning. They’ve played a good schedule, but haven’t won any marquee matchups. In a neutral-site game against Arizona they lost by four. They lost to both L.A. schools, falling to USC by two and losing to UCLA by seven, but they held the Bruins to just 74 points.
A Bad SEC Start
Texas A&M opened SEC play at home with a 10-point loss to lowly Tennessee. How did it happen? That’s a good question. Tennessee’s leading scorer only had 14 points and the box score is virtually split down the middle. Billy Kennedy said after the game, “They out-physicaled us,” but even that doesn’t make sense considering A&M’s size.
Rebounding and Defense
Playing with more size than most opponents, A&M limits opponents’ possessions by playing primarily a halfcourt style. A&M is ranked third in the SEC in scoring defense (64.6 points per game) and field goal percentage (38.5%) and fourth in blocked shots per game (5.8), good for 19th nationally.
On the glass, they’re a lot like Kentucky: not the best defensive rebounding team but they rebound most of their offensive misses. They’re ranked 15th in the nation in offensive rebounds, grabbing 39.6% of their misses.
What’s an Aggie?
It’s not a type of collie. The “A&M” stands for “Agricultural and Mechanical” college. The students were originally called “Farmers,” but that didn’t roll off the tongue well. Instead, people called them “Aggies,” a colloquialism for the agriculturally-focused institution. It became the official school nickname when the yearbook was named “Aggieland” in 1949.
Tyler Smith Returns
A&M is young. The average years of experience per player is 1.27, 302nd out of 351 teams. To steady the ship is Tyler Smith. A preseason All-SEC selection, Smith averages 14.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He has three double-doubles in 2017 and scored a career-high 25 points against A&M Corpus-Christi.
A Talented Freshman Class
With the help of Rick Stansbury, Billy Kennedy recruited the nation’s No. 18 class in 2016. The class is led by Robert Williams, a 4-star small forward ranked No. 61 in the ’16 class. So far, Williams has lived up the hype.
The Aggies’ sixth man, Williams averages 10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, good for second in the SEC behind Arkansas’ Moses Kingsley. Williams was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the final week of November, averaging 12 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
Guarding D.J. Hogg
One of Texas A&M’s best scorers plays a position that Kentucky struggles to defend. 6’9″ small forward D.J. Hogg averages 13.3 points per game and shoots 33% from the three-point line. He’s coming off a 21-point game against Tennessee and has scored in double-digits in 75% of the games this season.