Date: Tuesday, 11/20/18
Tip-Off Time: 8:30 pm PT
TV: ESPN 2
Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Betting Line: Washington -3
Texas A&M 2018-19 Statistics:
Points For per Game: 76.5 (123rd)
Points Against per Game: 80.0 (263rd)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 106.5 (77th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.7 (70th)
Texas A&M Key Players:
F- Christian Mekowulu, Sr. 6’8, 245: 10.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 41.4% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 71.4% FT
Christian is a grad transfer from Tennessee State who plays physical and excels at both offensive rebounding and drawing fouls. He’ll give the UW bigs problems and getting him into foul trouble early would be a huge boost to Washington.
F- Savion Flagg, So. 6’7, 217: 15.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 48.1% FG, 28.6% 3pt, 80.0% FT
The Texas A&M stretch 4 has seen his minutes double with the loss of so much talent in front of him and he’s taken advantage to be the Aggies’ best player so far. About 40% of his shots have come from deep but he’s been super efficient at the rim making better than 60% of his 2-point shots.
F- Brandon Mahan, So. 6’5, 200: 7.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 34.5% FG, 30% 3pt, 62.5% FT
Mahan has essentially just been a marksman for A&M as more than two-thirds of his shots have come from beyond the arc and he has one of the better percentages on the team.
G- Jay Jay Chandler, So. 6’4, 180: 9.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 38.2% FG, 21.4% 3pt, 63.6% FT
Chandler has been very active on the defensive end with a steal percentage in the top-100 nationally and an exceptional block percentage for a 6’4 guard. However, he’s struggled with turnovers (6 assists, 9 TOs so far) and his abysmal 3-pt shooting from last year doesn’t appear to have improved over the offseason.
G- T.J Starks, So. 6’2, 196: 12.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 30.8% FG, 12.0% 3pt, 61.5% FT
Starks was one of the only freshmen in the country with a usage rate higher than Jaylen Nowell last year and it has only gotten higher now that he’s the unquestioned lead dog. The speed demon is at his best driving to the hoop and getting out in transition . Last season his 3-pt shot was passable but in a continuing trend for Texas A&M he’s been really poor at it so far this season. Starks is also very turnover prone as he has at least 3 in every game this season including 9(!!!) in the season opener against 342nd ranked Savannah State.
2018-19 Texas A&M Shot Chart
The closer the Aggies get to the rim the better they shoot as a team. They’ve actually been pretty good in the midrange so far but are extremely poor shooting from outside in every zone (and hopefully against the zone). Looking at the chart it shouldn’t be surprising to see why Synergy Sports lists the Aggies as having an offense in just the 16th percentile nationally.
Washington had a tough schedule with 3 of their first 4 games against top-100 teams but Texas A&M has had just as difficult an opening stretch. Their one win was a gimme against Savannah State but after that their 3 losses have been to Big West favorites #78 UC Irvine, at #6 Gonzaga, and against #47 Minnesota (numbers are KenPom ranking). Washington should be favored in this game but the Aggies are one of the better 1-3 teams you’ll see in college basketball.
Texas A&M was decimated by players leaving from a team that beat UNC in the NCAA tournament last year particularly in the frontcourt. Gone are 75% of their minutes from last year including 4 starters. They’ve got several contributors who played last year but most are sophomores who weren’t major pieces of the puzzle. The Aggies are trying to find their identity and this opening gauntlet was probably ill advised to figure things out.
Despite the fact that A&M lost all of their beef down low they’ve been much better going inside when they have the ball so far. But that’s mostly because the Aggies are an abysmal shooting team through 4 games. They’ve made only 22% of 3-point attempts and no one who has taken more than one attempt per game is hitting at a rate of better than 30%. Expect Washington to take one step back in the zone and try to pack the paint a little more and encourage A&M to let things fly from deep.
This will be an interesting contrast in styles. Texas A&M’s defensive possessions have been almost the shortest in the country while Washington’s have been among the longest. The Aggies don’t want to stay disciplined for long enough to consistently make the right play and the Huskies will have opportunities if they can stay patient. The one thing that has kept the Aggies in games has been their offensive rebounding which unfortunately is one of Washington’s major weaknesses. I expect the Aggies to finish with 15+ turnovers but if they can end up with an extra 7-8 possessions by cleaning up on the offensive glass then they can overcome poor shooting.
Minnesota switched to a 2-3 zone for the final 5 minutes of their game against A&M on Sunday night after the Aggies had gone on a 20-6 run to take the lead and it absolutely flummoxed them. Now they have an extra day to prepare for it but the truth is that this A&M team seems like a great matchup for Washington. As long as the Huskies take care of the ball and don’t give the Aggies easy baskets in transition then they should be able to emerge with a victory.
Washington Huskies- 78, Texas A&M Aggies- 68
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