Texas A&M Aggies (3-4)
- Head Coach: Billy Kennedy (8th Season)
- Top Performer: Savion Flagg (14.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG)
- Points For: 75.3 PPG (T-169th)
- Points Against: 73.1 PPG (223rd)
- Last Game/Streak: 80-59 Win v. Northwestern State (2W)
To say it bluntly, it simply hasn’t been the year that Texas A&M has expected so far.
After a highly touted roster led the Aggies to a Sweet Sixteen appearance back in March, Texas A&M’s program has had positive momentum building around it. Star guard Admon Gilder returned to campus this off-season, ready to anchor a developing roster. The program had just made it’s second appearance in the third round of the big dance since 2015. Times were good in College Station.
And then it all came crashing down.
It was announced in late November, after the team’s 2-4 start that included defeats at the hands of UC-Irvine, Gonzaga, Minnesota and Washington, that Gilder would likely miss the entire season due to lingering health issues. And just days after that, the Aggies were set to square off in a huge litmus tests game against Boston College last weekend, only to have it cancelled due to some plane issues with the Eagles flight.
It’s almost been a case of when it rains its pours for Billy Kennedy and company, who just can’t seem to finally get this ship steering in the right direction.
Sources: Texas A&M's Admon Gilder (health issues) will likely miss the entire 2018-19 college basketball season.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 28, 2018
Now, Texas A&M comes to the Moda Center in Portland on Saturday to square off with Oregon State, having not played a game since December 3rd and without arguably their most talented player in Gilder. However, they will have the pieces they’ve learned to play with over the early stretch of this season, including a strong balance of play-making guards and strong, interior forwards.
The biggest names to know heading into this one will undoubtedly be Savion Flagg (14.6 PPG), who at 6’ 7”, has used the absence of Gilder to take a massive leap from last season’s 4.1 PPG average. Sophomore guards T.J. Starks (13.3 PPG) and Jay Jay Chandler (9.4 PPG) carry most of the load in the back-court, with Starks being the model of consistency, as opposed to Chandler’s hot-and-cold displays. Baylor transfer Wendell Mitchell (7.3 PPG) is also coming off a monster outing against the Demons, where he scored 18 points (5-10 FG) in just 22 minutes of action.
In the front-court, Tennessee State transfer Christian Mekowulu (9.9 PPG) has quickly adjusted to a higher level of play and seems to be the most reliable option for the Aggies, who play most times in a similar style to Oregon State, with one true center and then an undersized, stretch-four on the court.
Josh Nebo (7.3 PPG), a 6’ 9” transfer from St. Francis (PA) may take the assignement of guarding Beavers star forward Tres Tinkle in this one, as a tough and physical presence who will try and keep Tinkle on the perimeter.
Overall though, when looking at this game on paper, it’s so hard to gauge just how the environment will feel for both teams and who will better manage the “must win” scenario to salvage near opposite beginnings to their 2018-2019 campaigns.
If either squad has NCAA Tournament hopes still sitting on their mind, there’s no doubt that the outcome from this game will have some March implications much farther down the road.
Player To Watch
Jay Jay Chandler (Sophomore): The real “change-up” guy on the Aggies roster, Jay Jay Chandler is the type of spark-plug who can have a game-altering, catalytic type of effort for Texas A&m, that’s sometimes for better or sometimes for worse. Chandler brought a herculean effort to a hard-fought loss against Washington, where he finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds, which also included getting to the free-throw stripe 13 times. However, he followed it up with a two-point outing against South Alabama. Simply put, you never know what to expect from Chandler on any given night.
- Date: Saturday, December 15th
- Time: 8:00 PM PT
- Location: Moda Center (Portland, OR)
- Coverage: Pac-12 Network