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Game Preview: Texas A&M

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I was going to do this in two different sections writing one yesterday but I just never got around to doing it. So I will do both parts for you right now in this post. You excited? Before I get into mine, like always, I'll link you to other game previews for your reading.

Phog Blog
Chalmers Fan - Part 1
Chalmers Fan - Part 2
KU Sports
Kansas City Star
KU Athletics
Aggie Sports
Aggie Athletics

Texas A&M's Tournament Profile

A&M is a lock to make the Dance. They are probably going to be a #2 or #3 seed but with a win tonight in Allen Fieldhouse they could sneak into the #1 seed talk. Here is what experts have them at:

Bracketography - #4 seed in South
Bracketology - #3 seed in East

So, maybe they won't ever be able to sneak up into the #1 seed category. They have lost three games, none of them in Reed Arena. They lost on the road @ LSU, @ Texas Tech and in the John Wooden Classic against UCLA. None of those losses looked bad at the time, LSU has slipped so that one looks worse but there is no shame in losing on the road in conference play or losing against one of the top teams in the country in a semi-home atmosphere for the Bruins.

Texas A&M By the Numbers
They are as good of a defensive club as we are. According to Ken Pomeroy's RPI they are #20, five spots behind the Jayhawks who are slotted at #15. They are 7-3 against the RPI Top 100 and 11-0 against those ranked above 100. For everything else RPI visit the link above, Pomeroy knows what he's talking about. Here is Pomeroy's A&M preview with all of their ranks for every stat imaginable. In raw efficiency they are ranked #10 and #1 in offense and defense respectively and #12 and #4 after it is adjusted for schedule and such. Those are very good numbers, especially those defensive numbers. Just to give you an idea here are some of their rankings:

Effective FG% - 1
3 Point FG% - 1
2 Point FG% - 2

We are pretty good on defense too, here are our rankings in those 3 categories:

Effective FG% - 12
3 Point FG% - 110
2 Point FG% - 4

We are ranked high in some categories including block percentage (2) and in the two main categories, raw efficiency and adjusted efficiency, are ranked #2 and #3 respectively.

Player by Player Matchups

Point Guards:

Player Position MPG PPG RPG Ast:TO SPG
Russell Robinson PG 28.8 6.7 3.0 2.5:1 1.8
Acie Law IV PG 31.4 16.4 2.9 1.8:1 1.3

Shooting Guards:

Player Position MPG PPG RPG Ast:TO SPG
Mario Chalmers SG 28.5 11.8 3.1 1.6:1 2.7
Dominique Kirk SG 30.2 6.6 3.5 2.6:1 1.0

Guard/Foward:

Player Position MPG PPG RPG Ast:TO SPG
Brandon Rush G/F 32.4 14.3 6.0 1.0:1.1 0.4
Josh Carter G/F 27.6 11.7 3.5 2.8:1 0.8

Power Fowards:

Player Position MPG PPG RPG Ast:TO SPG
Julian Wright F 27.1 11.4 7.7 1.0:1.4 1.8
Joseph Jones F 27.2 13.7 6.7 1.0:1.3 1.3

Centers:

Player Position MPG PPG RPG Ast:TO BPG
Sasha Kaun F 18.3 6.4 3.7 1.0:2.2 1.4
Antanas Kavaliauskas F 26.8 12.3 5.7 1.1:1 0.5

I'm not sure about this game. We usually show up for big games, especially at home (i.e. Oklahoma State) but A&M is a different team than Okie State. A&M is one of the few teams in the country who may be a better defensive team than us, and that worries me. Most people are predicting finals in the 70's and 60's but I have a feeling it will be a much, much lower scoring game.

Three Keys to the Game:

1. Hit the Glass Hard
They are a weak offensive rebounding team (#178 in the country) but are pretty good on the defensive glass (#28). We need to have our fair share of offensive rebounds by Sasha Kaun and his putbacks, but we also need to prevent them from getting second chances. In a low scoring game, which is what I am predicting, every chance is vitally important and we can't afford to lose the battle on the offensive glass.

2. Get Julian Going Early
It worked on Monday night when I said we needed to get Julian going so why not try it again? If he is on and can make that 10 foot jumper it adds another dimension to our offense. He is one of the best driving big men in the Big 12 and if he can make an outside shot they will be more focused on him, allowing a dishout to one of our 3 point shooters (SC, RR, Brush, Super Mario). He will have a tough matchup going against a bigger and stronger Joseph Jones so his defense will likely be more important, which leads us to the next point...

3. Shut Down Joseph Jones
I know that Acie Law is the leader of the team. I know that he is the leading scorer. I also know that our defensive backcourt is one of the best in all of college basketball and Super Mario, RR and Brush will all probably see time defending Law. I think they will all shut him down to an extent, making either F Joseph Jones or AK44 lead them to victory. I personally would rather have AK44 have to beat us than Joseph Jones, Jones is an absolute physical monster. Julian Wright will have his handful and with AK44 being more of an outside big man we might see Sasha on Jones and Wright on AK44. Whoever is guarding Jones needs to shut him down, he can dominate games and if he does we might be in major trouble.

Rock Chalk Talk Prediction: Kansas 53 Texas A&M 48

Rock Chalk!