After finally picking up their first conference win of the 2017-2018 season, Texas A&M Basketball welcomes the Missouri Tigers to Reed Arena.
You know what they say: third time’s the charm! Or maybe multiply that by two. For this years Texas A&M basketball team, it appears six is the magic number. It took six SEC games before the Aggies picked up their first conference win.
That’s not to say they weren’t close a few times. The Aggies lost by one at home to LSU thanks to a miracle three by freshman phenom Tremont Waters. They went into Rupp Arena three days later and played Kentucky incredibly close, but also fell by one. Missed opportunities – free throws and otherwise – derailed the start of the conference slate for Texas A&M (12-6, 1-5).
The Ole Miss game very nearly became LSU 2.0. A three-point prayer by Breein Tyree – from the same spot as Waters just days earlier – with less than a second left was halfway down before inexplicably spinning back out to give the Aggies a much-needed win.
Only five teams in the SEC currently have a conference record greater than .500, which is good news for the Aggies. Each game from here on out will be crucial for the success of the Aggies season.
Next up is former Big 12 conference mate Missouri (13-5, 3-2) back home in Reed Arena.
How to watch
Date: Saturday, January 20
Time: 3 p.m. CT
Venue: Reed Arena
Location: College Station, TX
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Keys to Victory
The Aggies needed to find a win somewhere, and they finally did against Ole Miss. As Coach Billy Kennedy said after that game, “God blessed us with the right bounce.” Amen and a very loud FINALLY to that. Hopefully that spark combined with the team finally being at full strength for a stretch longer than two games will be all the motivation the team needs to what they were during non-conference play.
The Aggies don’t have the luxury of a few weeks of non-conference play to figure out team chemistry anymore, and Missouri won’t make getting a win easy. Even though their heralded freshman Michael Porter Jr. is out for the season with a back injury, the Tigers still have plenty of firepower.
The Tigers come into Reed Arena having just upset the No. 21 Tennessee Volunteers. Those Volunteers beat the Aggies by double digits just last week.
They are led by seniors Kassius Robinson and Jordan Barnett. Robinson averages 15.6 points per game and Barnett averages 14.8. Kevin Puryear is also dangerous. He had 12 points off of the bench against the Vols. Getting a couple of blocks – and then rebounds – will be crucial in helping the Aggies win.
Even though the Aggies beat the Rebels, they were out-rebounded and committed more turnovers than Ole Miss. That is going to have to change for the Aggies to get wins against better teams like Missouri.
The Aggies have proven to be hard to beat when they get the ball inside to big men Tyler Davis – who leads the SEC in field goal percentage – and Robert Williams. The “#RobLob” worked seven or eight times against the Rebels zone defense.
I think that will be the biggest key to the game. Do what you know works (and, incidentally, is what your best at) and the Aggies will be okay.
It’s going to be another nail bitter, but the Aggies squeak out a close one at home.