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Kicking the Tires: Texas A&M

Before I begin this scouting report of our basketball opponent for tomorrow, I need to tell you there are changes on the way here at BOTC.  For the last year, SBN has been working on a new blog platform that will roll out sometime in the near future.  I've looked it over and it looks awesome, just want you all to know that sometime in the near future you will click over to this page and think you've hit the wrong site.

Anyway, on to the Aggies.

The numbers...

A&M: 30
K-State: 62

A&M: 148
K-State: 62

Pomeroy Offensive Efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions)
A&M: 19th (116.3)
K-State: 71st (108.8)

Pomeroy Defensive Efficiency (points given up per 100 possessions)
A&M: 19th (87.4)
K-State: 7th (85.0)

Notable Individuals...

Michael Beasley, 24.8 points per game, 13.1 rebounds per game, 2.0 blocks per game
Bill Walker, 15.8 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game

Texas A&M
Josh Carter, 13.4 points per game, 2.0 assists per game
Joseph Jones, 11.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game

As mentioned yesterday, the Aggies dropped to 15-2 on the season with a 15-point loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock on Wednesday.  That loss also dropped the Aggies to 0-2 on the season in road games (the other loss was to Arizona before the New Year).

Texas A&M is a very balanced team that plays a short rotation.  The Aggies have used the same starting lineup in each game this season, starting Josh Carter, Joseph Jones, DeAndre Jordan, Donald Sloan and Dominique Kirk.  The starting five and the Aggies' top two reserves each average more than 20 minutes per game, although none of them average more than 30.

Just like Oklahoma, the Aggies come in with a super-freshman of their own.  DeAndre Jordan is a 7-footer out of Houston, who leads A&M in field goal percentage, registering 10.1 points per game and grabbing 6.9 rebounds per game.  Unlike Blake Griffin, however, Jordan has a serious flaw in his free throw shooting.  Jordan shoots an atrocious 37 percent from the line.  To give you a little perspective on that, notorious charity-stripe brick-tosser Shaquille O'Neal is making 48 percent this season.

As their Pomeroy offensive efficiency indicates, the Aggies are a solid team from the field.  From the field, they shoot 50.9 percent, which puts them second in the Big 12; from three-point range, the Aggies drop 39 percent, making them the fourth-best range-shooting team in the conference.

For K-State to be successful tomorrow, it will have to put forth an excellent effort guarding Jordan and Joseph Jones inside.  My guess is we'll use a fairly long rotation, running Beasley, Walker, Darren Kent, Ron Anderson and Luis Colon at them and instructing the last three of those to pick up any necessary foul to prevent Jordan from scoring easy buckets.  I wouldn't mind seeing Jordan take 14 foul shots tomorrow, because on average he will only make six of them, meaning the Aggies will have the equivalent of three or four empty possessions.  It will be imperative that Beasley and Walker stay out of foul trouble.

Because A&M is an inside-outside team, with Josh Carter supplying the primary outside threat at 40.6 percent shooting from range, it may not be a bad idea to throw the 3-2 zone at them to see if they can handle it.  It gives us the ability to stretch the perimeter and still pack the lane.

Each game is a big one, but this looms especially large for the Cats right now.  We have a chance to move to 2-0 in conference with wins over a team we were supposed to be competing with in the middle of the pack and a team that was predicted to be one of the contenders for the top spot.  And if that's not enough, Texas A&M is coached by former 'beaker Mark Turgeon, a man who has expressed his lack of fondness for K-State.  He also has made it clear in advance that he will hold the Big 12 responsible should his Aggies fall to 1-2 at K-State:

"I think it's a huge advantage. I think that happens to us a few times in the league, which I'm disappointed in, but it's a big advantage. They get to sit back and watch us on Wednesday," Turgeon said. "(K-State head coach Frank Martin) can probably just work on them Monday and Tuesday to get them better and then a couple days to prepare. I think it's a huge advantage. We travel twice this week and it's a big week for our program. They'll probably be more prepared for us than we are for them, but we'll have to prepare more mentally than we can physically for them. Hopefully we get the opportunity to do both."

First, get the man a tissue.  Second, somebody tell those damn Texans at that it's the Sunflower State, not the freakin' Jayhawk state.

Anyway, given the team Turgeon played basketball for and his lack of fondness for K-State (and K-State fans' reciprocal lack of fondness for him), I expect Bramlage Coliseum to be rockin' and rollin' on Saturday afternoon.

Moving on to the rest of the conference...

Oklahoma State @ Iowa State, 12:30 (ESPN+)
Hard to get much of a read on this one.  The Pokes pounded Texas Tech and then turned around and lost to Baylor, while Iowa State lost to Baylor and then turned around and beat Missouri.  Keep in mind the game is in Ames, Iowa, and I foresee a little Hilton Magic, not to mention the sub-zero temperatures on the Iowa plains may put the Cowboys in a deep freeze.
The pick: 'Clones

Texas Tech @ Oklahoma, 3 p.m. (ESPN+)
Bobby Knight and his Red Raiders are coming off a big win over Texas A&M.  Oklahoma is coming off a big loss to the 'beakers and the loss of its best player.  Obviously I'd like to see OU pick up some wins, but with Blake Griffin out it's going to be a tough road.
The pick: Red Raiders

Baylor @ Nebraska, 5 p.m. (ESPN+)
Could we really see Baylor move to 3-0 in conference play?  Believe it.  The Bears have won their first two conference tests, and the Huskers are coming off an uninspired road loss to Colorado.  The Huskers will be desperate to win this one and avoid an 0-3 conference start, but desperation won't be enough.
The pick: Judge Bear

Colorado @ Texas, 7 p.m. (ESPN+)
These are two teams going in surprisingly different directions.  I wouldn't have believed that UT would be coming off a loss while Colorado would be on an impressive one-game winning streak.  Hard for me to see Colorado continuing its "run" in this one.
The pick: 'Horns

KU @ Mizzou, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Hard to believe the lack of buildup to this basketball edition of the Border War, given the nearly sickening hype surrounding this year's football version.  Mizzou went from the high of knocking off Texas last Saturday to a low of losing ont he road at Iowa State in its midweek game.  Things could get even lower with a loss--maybe a blowout loss--to the hippy wannabes.
The pick: 'beaks

And because no BOTC "Kicking the Tires" would be complete without a photo and caption...