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Billy Kennedy
Jalen Jones
Texas A&M Basketball

Rebounds the key to Aggies bouncing back against Alabama

February 9, 2016
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If Texas A&M can keep Alabama from rebounding, the Aggies may do some rebounding of their own.

The 15th-ranked Aggies (18-5, 7-3 SEC) visit Alabama Wednesday night seeking to halt a three-game slump against conference opponents that has dropped the Aggies from a two-game lead in the Southeastern Conference basketball race into a three-way tie for second behind league-leading LSU.

“(It’s) time to bounce back and get back on a winning track,” Aggies coach Billy Kennedy said on Tuesday afternoon. “I thought we played well against South Carolina (an 81-78 loss on Saturday), but we didn’t defend them like we’re capable of. Alabama is a very good team. We’re going to have to play better defensively to win on the road there.”

Winning in Tuscaloosa suddenly looks like more a difficult challenge than it did two weeks ago.

Not only have the Aggies frequently struggled on the road, but the Crimson Tide (13-9, 4-6) has won three of its last four games.

Alabama guard Retin Obasohan is averaging 22.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists over the last six games to lead the way.

“They’ve got a number of guys who started last year and beat us,” Kennedy said. “We’re more concerned with playing to a level we need to play at to win. We know they’re going to be good.”

Against South Carolina, the way to play them was to make them shoot threes, but we let them make too many of them because we weren’t close enough to them. We did not adjust to it. We need to be more aggressive. - Billy Kennedy {"Module":"quote","Alignment":"left","Quote":"Against South Carolina, the way to play them was to make them shoot threes, but we let them make too many of them because we weren’t close enough to them. We did not adjust to it. We need to be more aggressive.","Author":"Billy Kennedy"}
Rebounding seemingly is the key to beating Alabama. The Crimson Tide is 8-1 when out-rebounding opponents, but only 5-8 when failing to gain an advantage on the boards.

Alabama is 12th in the SEC in rebounding margin, while A&M is third. That seems to suggest the Aggies will have an edge.

Unfortunately, the Aggies have other issues.

In losing consecutive SEC games to Arkansas, Vanderbilt and South Carolina, A&M has allowed 33 three-point goals and committed 45 turnovers.

Although Alabama is ninth in the SEC three-point percentage, the Tide has five players who have 24 three-pointers, so that again will be an area of concern.

“I think we’ve been playing off guys with our ball pressure,” Kennedy said. “We’re not getting deflections and scoring off our defense. Against South Carolina, the way to play them was to make them shoot threes, but we let them make too many of them because we weren’t close enough to them. We did not adjust to it. We need to be more aggressive.”

The Aggies must be more careful, too.

South Carolina scored 19 points off turnovers in an 81-78 victory over the Aggies last Saturday. Arkansas scored 15 points on turnovers in defeating A&M 74-71 on Jan. 27.

The Aggies also need to get find a way to get more production from forward Jalen Jones, who leads A&M with a 16.0 scoring average.

However, he’s averaged just 9.3 points and shot just 26 percent in the three SEC losses. He’s also mired in foul trouble.

“I think people are doubling him, taking charges off him,” Kennedy said. “Any time he’s aggressive going to the basket they’re looking to flop and get him in foul trouble. He’s got to counter that.”

Jones agreed. He realizes he must adjust his game.

“They’ve keyed in a lot,” Jones said. “Offensively, they try to attack me and put me in foul trouble. On my part, I have to be more smart and notice what teams are doing and get my teammates more involved early. That will open up things for me.”
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Rebounds the key to Aggies bouncing back against Alabama

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