Texas A&M basketball will travel to Spokane to take on the No. 3 team in the nation; after losing to UC Irvine at home, is there any hope they can compete?
Things haven’t gotten off to a good start for the Texas A&M basketball team. They had two tuneup games against (supposedly) inferior competition, only to drop a game to UC Irvine at Reed Arena over the weekend. They didn’t shoot it well and turned the ball over in their win against Savannah State, too.
The sloppiness doesn’t bode well as the Aggies look to their matchup with No. 3 Gonzaga on Thursday night. The way they have played in their first two games is a recipe for getting blown out on national television.
The UC Irvine loss was not just embarrassing in the loss itself, but the Aggies blew a 10-point half time lead, which they had extended to 14 in the early minutes of the second half, and blew a six-point lead in the final four minutes by only scoring two points in that span.
The theory was Billy Kennedy shifted the offense to push the pace and take advantage of the three-point line. That theory works in practice if the Aggies can shoot at a decent percentage. They shot 14-for-66 from downtown in their first two games (21.2 percent). Not a single Aggie that has shot at least five threes is shooting better than 29 percent.
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There is a caveat to this start: The Aggies missed what could be their best two shooters in the first two games of the season. Admon Gilder, definitely the best returning shooter, and Wendell Mitchell, a talented incoming JUCO recruit, have not played yet. Gilder is nursing a hamstring injury and Mitchell has been battling some tendinitis.
Both are day-to-day and could play tomorrow night. Kennedy obviously needs these guys, both of whom should be starters when healthy.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga has been blowing teams out, winning their first three games with an average margin of victory of 39. The Bulldogs have an explosive offense, averaging 112 points per game (No. 3 in the country) and shooting 55 percent from the field.
There are many reasons to believe Gonzaga will win this one going away. The only hope for Texas A&M will be Gilder and Mitchell playing and being able to spread the Bulldogs defense by hitting their threes.
One good thing Texas A&M has done this season is getting to the free throw line. They shot 26 free throws in both of the first two games. If they can continue to do that it should give them open space to penetrate the lane and find open shooters. So far this season, they have been missing those shots. With Gilder and Mitchell on the floor, it could turn things around.
There may be little hope, but a healthy Texas A&M squad has a chance to beat anyone if they shoot well. Unfortunately, that’s a big if this season.