The Kansas State Wildcats (7-1, #71 kenpom ranking) take on the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station's Reed Arena; tipoff slated for 4:30pm CST. K-State's last action was a sloppy-at-times, yet decisive, home win over the Coppin State Eagles in Manhattan, 83-58.
And no, that's not a misprint! If you've been tracking Bring On The Cats through the week, you have seen that the Wildcats received ONE vote in the Coaches Top-25 Poll this week.
Know Your Opponent
The stats show that Texas A&M (7-2, #35 kenpom ranking) is a solid team in nearly every aspect of the game. Ranked #35 by kenpom.com, the Aggies are outside of top-100 in only Offensive Turnover%, FT%, and sending opponents to the line. They also allow a lot of attempts beyond the arc, which is more likely a byproduct of their schedule as opposed to a defensive emphasis. Very good on the offensive glass, can shoot inside and out, and a pretty long team.
Texas A&M isn't the fastest team getting up and down the floor, but one noted characteristic - they average among the fastest offensive possessions in the country, but among the slowest on defense. Look for more of the same today - trying to score quickly on our defense, but forcing K-State to use much of the shot clock each trip down the floor.
The Aggies are coming off a road loss to Arizona State last Saturday in which they only scored 54 points; their only other loss coming to Syracuse in the championship game in the Battle 4 Atlantis. In the Bahamas, they also picked up a win over in-state rival Texas (who is looking to be pretty average right now), as well as a win over perennial darling Gonzaga.
Keep a close watch on:
Senior forward Danuel House leads the team from the wing, and is a solid offensive player all around, averaging 16.1ppg and 5.1rpg. He's easily the most prolific three-point shooter on the team, attempting 68 threes on the season already (at 32%). He also shoots over 50% from inside the arc, and gets to the line plenty. Expect the ball to run through him on offense.
Freshman center Tyler Davis is a stud on both ends of the floor. He's one of the better shot blockers in the country, and is also shooting a stratospheric 73% from the floor. Averages 11.6ppg, 6.2rpg, and a little over one block per game.
Sophomore forward Tonny Trocha-Morelos is a stretch big, and has cashed in on 12 of 18 three point attempts this season. However, his production has fallen off recently as the competition has ramped up.
Texas A&M runs a mix of man-to-man and zone defenses. They've got the length to be problematic for opponents in either scheme, and are top-20 at forcing turnovers. Interestingly, we're one of the better teams in the country in not committing turnovers, so the ball security game will be interesting to watch.
On offense, A&M shares the ball pretty well (68% of their made buckets are assisted), and have relatively high shooting percentages (54.6% eFG). They're also just slightly behind us in creating additional possessions off the miss, so an outstanding offensive rebounding team. Defensively, expect us to run a mix of man and zone as well - probably that matchup zone - to force their hand a bit. If it were me, I'd run the matchup zone from the opening tip.
F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 210 Jr
F Dean Wade, 6-10 225 Fr
F Stephen Hurt, 6-11 265 Sr
G Justin Edwards, 6-4 200 Sr
G Kamau Stokes, 6-0 170 Fr
Texas A&M Aggies:
F Danuel House, 6-7 212 Sr
F Tonny Trocha-Morelos, 6-10 229 So
C Tyler Davis, 6-10 265 Fr
G Alex Caruso, 6-5 186 Sr
G Anthony Collins, 6-1 175 Sr
3 Keys To The Game
1. Windex The Glass
This game is going to come down to rebounding at both ends of the floor. The team that wins the glass wins the game. This is going to require effort, pure and simple. Limiting A&M to one shot, and getting extra possessions on our end, will give us a great chance to come home with the W.
2. Ball Security
More possession talk - the greater the number of possessions in this game, the greater our chances. We can't be coughing the ball up, especially with live-ball turnovers. On the other end, the Aggies are somewhat prone to committing turnovers, so being hectic out on defense (we're currently coming up with a steal on 10.6% of the opponents possessions) and finding some transition buckets will be crucial.
3. Charity Stripe
This game will be a free-throw shooting contest if its close late. However, we need to be aggressive through the entire 40 minutes to get to the line early. The Aggies are prone to putting opponents on the line. Against their length and defensive capability, especially on the interior, I'll take our team-wide 71.7% FT every time. They can't defend shots when they're foul shots.
All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.