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Texas A&M Basketball

Inside Man: Tyler Davis' post presence driving Texas A&M's resurgence

March 17, 2016
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Typically, Kentucky basketball fans only rave about Kentucky players.

Yet, in last week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament Texas A&M's massive freshman Tyler Davis elicited a most atypical response. He grabbed an offensive rebound, muscled in a put-back basket, drew a foul — and then drew admiration from an exasperated Kentuckian in the Bridgestone Arena bleachers.

“That guy’s a (bleeping) horse.”

Davis’ game is a matter of give and take. He gives the Aggies 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest and has blocked 11 shots in the Aggies’ last four games. He also takes away valuable minutes from opponents by routinely forcing their big men into foul trouble.

Therefore, that Kentucky fan’s message was accurate, though other adjectives could have applied.

Work horse? Unequivocally.

War horse? Undoubtedly.

Stud horse? Unquestionably.

The 6-10, 260-pound Davis is something of a Trojan horse, too.

His mere presence can attract so much attention from opposing players that opportunities open up for his A&M teammates to inflict damage.

Matt Sachs, TexAgs During Texas A&M's stretch run Davis increased his shot-blocking presence, continued his low-post scoring and elicited foul trouble from opposing players. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"left","Size":"large","Caption":"During Texas A\u0026M\u0027s stretch run Davis increased his shot-blocking presence, continued his low-post scoring and elicited foul trouble from opposing players.","MediaItemID":67763}
“He’s an incredible guy. He’s a 6-10 guy. He’s 260 pounds and is hard to guard,” A&M sophomore Tonny Trocha-Morelos said. “When you have those types of players on the court, he requires two players to guard him and creates opportunities for open shots for (Danuel) House and (Jalen) Jones and Alex Caruso.

“Tyler Davis has been a great key for us. Right now, he’s playing like a junior or senior guy.”

The Aggies hope he can just play like a freshman. Freshmen centers like Louisville’s “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison or Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, that is.

They helped their teams make successful runs in the NCAA Tournament.

The Aggies, who face Wisconsin-Green Bay on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, are hoping Davis can help them make a successful run, too.

“He hasn’t been in foul trouble a whole lot lately,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "He’s not having as many cheap fouls. That’s the biggest part. He’s paying more attention to details in scouting reports, which is helping him.“

Davis says he’s just trying to play his role.

“I’ve done my job the same every day,” he said. “I’ve done what coach Kennedy told me to do, just to be a good inside presence. I don’t have to block every shot, but be a presence on defense and a presence on offense. I think my confidence has gone up a lot. I’m taking smarter shots.”

Davis hasn’t taken many bad shots. He’s shooting 64.1 percent from the field, which would rank among the nation’s top 10 if he had enough attempts to qualify. An average of 5.0 field goals per game is required to be listed among NCAA statistical leaders.

Davis doesn’t shoot a lot, which is surprising because he’s averaging in double figures. He defers to House and Jones, A&M’s high-scoring seniors who both average over 15 points a game.

Still, the Aggies should be more determined to get the basketball to Davis, who in the last seven games has hit 71.4 percent from the free throw line (20 of 28).

Davis is so broad he’s difficult to get around. He frequently has scratches up and down his arms from opponents grabbing him. In fact, in one recent game his arms were bleeding.

“Sometimes I’ll tell the ref, ‘He’s holding me, he’s scratching me.’” Davis said. “It’s just part of it. I go to the boards aggressively. I’m a physical guy. I like contact.

“When it happens, I rarely realize it. Once I notice I say, 'This is not a no-call. You’ve got to call that.’”

He may not always be drawing calls, but opponents trying to guard him are getting called.

He’s putting fouls on the other team and we’re getting to the line, which is a big thing. He’s gotten better defensively. In this tournament he blocked some shots and he did it without fouling. He brings a lot to the table for us. - Billy Kennedy {"Module":"quote","Alignment":"right","Quote":"He’s putting fouls on the other team and we’re getting to the line, which is a big thing. He’s gotten better defensively. In this tournament he blocked some shots and he did it without fouling. He brings a lot to the table for us.","Author":"Billy Kennedy"}
In three of A&M's last four games Kentucky’s Alex Poythress, Florida’s Jon Egbunu and Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones fouled out. LSU’s Craig Victor did not foul out of a 71-38 loss to A&M, but played only 15 minutes and did not score.

In fact, they were all held under their scoring averages.

“He’s putting fouls on the other team and we’re getting to the line, which is a big thing,” Kennedy said. “He’s gotten better defensively. In this (SEC) tournament he blocked some shots and he did it without fouling. He brings a lot to the table for us.”

Look for him to bring even more in future seasons. Davis is committed to fulfilling his great potential. He’s a diligent worker who figures to develop into a dominant player under the supervision of A&M strength and conditioning coach Darby Rich.

Rich has often attached Davis to a bungie cord in drills. When Davis jumps, Rich pulls back to provide resistance. The idea is to make Davis a quicker, more explosive jumper.

“He’s not what we would call a quick-twitch guy,” Rich said. “I think if you put him down with his hand on the ground beside (A&M defensive end) Myles Garrett, Myles will get to the quarterback a little bit faster.

"Developing explosiveness is going to be the key to his success here as well as giving him a chance at the next level.”

Of course, the “next level” Davis is focused on is each step of the NCAA Tournament.

He figures to make a major impact against Wisconsin-Green Bay, which doesn’t have the size inside to match up.

“They’re a little smaller than us, so we do intend to go inside,” Davis said. “Pound the ball inside.”

That seems like sound strategy.

When you’ve got a (bleeping) horse you should ride him.
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Inside Man: Tyler Davis' post presence driving Texas A&M's resurgence

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