Behind Enemy Lines: Texas A&M
With a little bit of momentum heading into College Station, Texas, the South Carolina Gamecocks take on a Texas A&M team finding its way as well.
Sports Illustrated's Cole Thompson of the Aggie Maven breaks down what fans can expect to see from the Aggies.
1. What is Texas A&M's identity becoming a few games into SEC play?
Cole Thompson: They're a tough out to say the least. Going 2-2 in SEC play, the Aggies have lost both games by combined 14 points, forcing the Tigers to go into overtime. The team scored 16 points on Tuesday to take the lead after trailing by 14 going into halftime. You want to see them play better nearing the end as they did allow LSU to score eight points in under 90 seconds, but they're a scrappy team. You can never trust the lead against the Aggies. One way or another, they're going to cause havoc and disrupt the flow of the game.
2. How are the Aggies approaching a team like USC with big upsets over UVA and Kentucky but baffling losses?
CT: I think similar to have they have every other game -- strong offensive play. When A&M can shoot, they find a rhythm that will contend with the best of any team. On the flip side, when a team gets on a roll, one bad defensive play leads to multiple points in favor of their opponent. It's hard to say this A&M is bad, but little mistakes probably cost them at least three wins on the season. They're going to try to execute Buzz Williams' new offensive scheme and hopefully walk away with a victory.
3. Josh Nebo said the Aggies are starting to settle in the offense and stop overthinking things. What kind of offensive attack can the Gamecocks expect?
CT: Look for smart passing and field goal shoot. A&M knows they struggle behind the arc. In fact, they are the worst 3-point shooting team in the country. That being said, it's easy to look at the Aggies and find out their flaws. After improving in their 3-pointers against LSU, look for them to return to shooting inside the paint, outrebounding the Gamecocks and look to someone like Nebo around the basket.
4. The Aggies came up just short against LSU, who is unbeaten in SEC play. What was the biggest takeaway from that contest?
CT: Improvement. For the first time this season, A&M shot above 40% in the 3-point range. They also scored a season-high 85 points, 79 coming before overtime. This is an Aggies team that when on a rhythm can score across the court and rely on key players like Andre Gordon and Nebo to make points in the paint. They also are a better defensive team than the numbers would suggest. Williams has been implement in a turnaround at Marquette and Virginia Tech. One look from the first game to now and it's clear A&M is his next project that looks promising.
5. What's something head coach Buzz Williams is watching for to see just how much his team has grown?
CT: Williams has said that the consistency of the team is vastly improved. Does that correlate to wins or losses? Probably not, but it's showing areas of growth with this Aggies team. They starting faster in games and once in a rhythm, they become hard to stop, specifically in the paint around the free-throw line. Bottom line, there's a new found balance at Reed Arena that everyone is taking accustom to. It's hard to see this Aggie team starting to finally trend in the right direction with a coach who knows how to fix a program.