I think it’s fair to say no team is harder to predict this year than Texas A&M. That is mostly due to only having two players who have played in every game this season. Even with that fact, the Aggies have been maddeningly inconsistent. They began the season by murdering West Virginia on a neutral floor, but also started SEC play 0-5.
It’s fair to say A&M has been pretty bad offensively overall. While they shoot 52 percent from two on the season, that number is under 50 in SEC play, and the Aggies are a pretty terrible shooting team, making under a third of their threes this season.
The one worrying thing for the Jayhawks (and really the only worrying thing) is they rank 29th nationally in offensive rebounding. Even after a good effort against the Sooners, Kansas is still the worst defensive rebounding team in the league, so there is a chance for A&M to make some hay there. Still, if that’s the only way for the Aggies to score, they could be in for a long afternoon.
Defensively A&M is a little tougher to predict. On the season, they’re 6th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, but in SEC play they rank 10th in the conference, allowing 106.6 points per 100 possessions. The one consistency from the noncon season is the lack of ability to force turnovers, which definitely is a plus for the Jayhawks.
Not a plus is how tall and long A&M is, going 6-9, 6-10, 6-10 at the starting 3-4-5 spots, with a 6-10 guy coming off the bench. It’s going to be tough to get a ton of good looks inside, so the Jayhawks should look to take advantage of the fact A&M is 226th nationally at allowing threes.
Players to Watch
Robert Williams, 6-10 sophomore forward
Williams has a good shot at being a lottery pick in June, and he’s one of the more athletic players the Jayhawks will see all season. He is the team’s best rebounder, shoots 63 percent, and has a block rate nearing 10 percent. Needless to say, he’s going to be a handful.
DJ Hogg, 6-9 junior forward
Hogg is A&M’s biggest threat from deep, going 41-100 from three so far this season (that’s 41 percent). He doesn’t too a ton else but who can’t see Svi leaving him for 5 open threes tomorrow.
Tyler Davis, 6-10 junior forward
A&M’s other most talented player, Davis is shooting 60 percent from two this year and is one of the best offensive rebounders in the SEC. He isn’t the shot blocker Williams is, but he’s a very capable defender in his own right.
Keys to the Game
- Threes - stop me if you’ve heard this before, but with A&M’s size and athleticism, the Jayhawks are going to have to take and make a lot of threes.
- Defensive rebounding - Other than Hogg, A&M will miss a lot of jumpers. If Kansas can limit them to 1 and done on enough possessions, they should be able to come away with a win.
- Fouls - A&M doesn’t commit a lot of fouls (nor do they get fouled a lot), but with their size they will possibly be able to get Azubuike into foul trouble, which could spell danger for the Jayhawks.
Even after almost getting the Oklahoma score exactly correct, I still don’t have a handle on this team. It’s also tough to get a handle on A&M given all the time their players have missed this year. Because of A&M’s jump shooting woes, and their tendency to give up some threes, I am going to take the Jayhawks, but I think A&M’s size keeps it close. I’ll go 69-66 Jayhawks.