Three Keys to a Texas A&M Turnaround

Posted by David Changas on January 16th, 2018

After Texas A&M opened the season in Germany with an 88-65 dismantling of a West Virginia team that has only lost twice since (both to top-10 teams), you could have gotten pretty good odds against the Aggies being winless in SEC play with nearly a third of the conference season complete. But that is exactly where they stand following a pair of road losses against Kentucky and Tennessee last week. An 11-1 pre-conference performance, with the only loss coming at Arizona, puts the Aggies at 11-6 overall (0-5 SEC), and although still projected by the bracketologists as an eventual entrant into the NCAA Tournament, Billy Kennedy’s squad needs to quickly get things turned around. Here are three ways that can happen.

Tyler Davis has been a consistent performer for the Aggies, even during their slump. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

  1. Get Robert Williams going. Williams surprised many observers when he decided to return for his sophomore season despite the widespread belief that he would be an NBA Draft first-round pick. The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year has been disappointing so far, especially on the offensive end, where evidence of any real development in his game has been scant. The big man is averaging just 8.7 points per game this season, and while he leads the Aggies in rebounding (9.6 RPG), he has not at all been the equal to fellow frontcourt star Tyler Davis. If Texas A&M is going to turn things around over the next few weeks, it starts with getting more productivity out of the talented Williams.
  2. Consistency in the lineup. It can be reasonably argued that the Aggies’ backslide started when junior forward D.J. Hogg, the team’s biggest three-point threat (45.3% 3FG), was suspended for the final pre-conference warm-up (Buffalo) and Texas A&M’s first two SEC games (Alabama and Florida). In addition, J.J. Caldwell, a freshman point guard who was expected to be a difference-maker in the backcourt, has already been suspended for five games and has correspondingly yet to find any consistency. While his shortcomings have been offset somewhat by the play of Marquette graduate transfer Duane Wilson, the senior guard has also missed three SEC games with an injury. With everyone now healthy and otherwise back in the lineup, any excuses that might have been at Kennedy’s disposal have disappeared. It’s time to perform.
  3. Get better offensive production. Even during the SEC slump, Texas A&M’s defense has been solid all season; offensively, though, the Aggies have struggled. They are hitting a meager 28.7 percent of their three-point attempts over five SEC games, and while Hogg’s suspension clearly contributed to that mark, they simply haven’t been good enough from the perimeter as a group to relieve pressure from Davis and Williams inside. They are also coughing up the ball more than 14 times per game, largely due to their inconsistent play at point guard. While Kennedy should be happy that his defense has been very good even with the struggles, eventually the offense needs to produce. Otherwise, the downward spiral could continue.

A final point is that there is no question that Texas A&M’s SEC schedule to date has been difficult, and there is a ample opportunity to right the ship with four of its next five SEC games at home. And as bad as the winless start has been, a heartbreaking buzzer-beater loss against LSU and a controversial ending against Kentucky could easily have gone the other way. Still, while the Aggies’ resume is strong enough to weather the storm and remain in good standing with the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, their margin of error is getting smaller by the game.

David Changas (147 Posts)


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