After their fifth-straight victory to improve their record to 6-4 overall, the Texas A&M men’s basketball team is starting to look like a contender in the SEC. The Aggies were only eight-point favorites leading up to the December 22 game against Marshall, but blew them out by 24 points at Reed Arena in College Station. That’s because the defense helped crank their offensive output to another level.
Most people would be impressed that the Aggies almost dropped a hundred points, especially since head coach Billy Kennedy has been trying to mimic the team after the Michigan Wolverines with a fast tempo and deep perimeter shooting. Kennedy got what he wanted for the most part from a scoring standpoint, with five players scoring in double figures and a good shooting percentage.
Texas A&M shot 53 percent (35 of 66) from the field and 45 percent (5 of 11) from the 3-point line.
Perhaps what was more impressive was the perimeter defense against a really good shooting team. The Aggies held Marshall to only 29 percent from behind the arc and turned a lot of those missed jump shots into easy transition baskets the other way. Texas A&M guards Jay Jay Chandler and Brandon Mahan did an excellent job running Marshall off the 3-point line and rushing out to start the fast breaks.
Additionally, the Aggies dominated the Thundering Herd on the glass, pulling in 54 rebounds to Marshall’s 30. The beauty of this accomplishment is that the Aggie guards came up with 24 of the 54 rebounds, including guard Savion Flagg, who grabbed a team-high 12 boards.
This wasn’t just because Marshall was missing shots. Texas A&M out-hustled them and made runs when it needed to early in the first half.
What Coach Kennedy needs to realize is that this defense-first mentality is a winning philosophy for the team that he has. With the amount of speedy, athletic guards that he has on the roster, they will force a lot of the shoot-first minded guards in the SEC into bad shots.
Just like football, a good defense travels in basketball. It also takes pressure off of the team to have to shoot so well to fit his new proposed run-and-gun offense. Some nights the Aggie shots will fall, but some nights it won’t. Good defense and rebounding will allow for easy buckets and less tired legs.
This style will also allow Texas A&M to keep racking up wins.