Texas A&M Basketball: Bad shot selection dooms Aggies in Sweet 16

In Features by Blake Lovell

It’s the game that I had penciled in as ‘must-see’ as soon as the 2016 NCAA tournament bracket was released.

No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Texas A&M, with the winner moving just one win away from the Final Four.

It felt like it could be an instant classic. It wasn’t.

The Sooners took control in the first half and never looked back in routing Billy Kennedy’s team 77-63 in Anaheim.

Many expected a much better outing from the Aggies. Texas A&M got off to a fast start in hitting several quick threes early in the game, but when the shots stopped falling, it went downhill from there.

One of the biggest flaws for the Aggies the entire season was their bad shot selection at times. When effective, players like Danuel House and Jalen Jones were able to score at will. But when they weren’t hitting, it could sometimes get rather ugly.

That happened against Oklahoma. House and Jones went a combined 7-of-24 from the floor, with neither ever really finding a groove. To make matters worse, Texas A&M settled for 28 three-pointers and only managed to hit six of them.

The most glaring offensive issue was that the Aggies didn’t really get Tyler Davis involved until the start of the second half. Davis was a non-factor in the first half due to the reliance on jumpshots, and when A&M finally decided to get him the ball early in the second half, he scored.

Davis would wind up being the team’s leading scorer with 17 points, but it just took way too long to get him the ball. Oklahoma’s interior defense was good, however, there were times where Davis simply didn’t get a look on the offensive end of the floor.

Replace bad shot selection from the outside with a Davis touch in the paint, and perhaps it’s a different game. Especially when you consider that Buddy Hield didn’t have his greatest night in scoring only 17 points of his own.

It was a disappointing performance for the Aggies. After the miraculous comeback to beat Northern Iowa in the second round, some thought it  may give A&M the boost that it needed going forward.

Instead, this team looked completely flat after riding a hot start early on, and could never find a way to recover. With good shot selection, maybe they could have recovered.

It was a good run nonetheless. The Aggies were the final SEC team remaining in the tournament, and that’s, well, something.

This program will see some changes next season. House, Jones, and Alex Caruso will all exit College Station, leaving a huge void to fill in the backcourt.

Luckily, Davis will be in year two and hopefully become the focal point of the offense.

There’s no doubt that this program will continue to stay at an elite level. But this Oklahoma loss will sting for a while.

 

Blake Lovell is the founder of Southeast Hoops. He hosts the Marching to Madness podcast, which features interviews with coaches around the country. He also hosts a weekly college basketball show on WNSR 560AM/95.9 FM in Nashville. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Athlon Sports, Rivals, FanRag Sports, and many more.