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Photo by Matt Sachs, TexAgs
Texas A&M Basketball

Preview & Logan's Take: Ags eager for Hogg to shake off shooting slump

December 7, 2016

Slumps come.

More importantly, slumps go.

It’s that time between coming and going that can make an athlete a little crazy.

Texas A&M's 6-8 sophomore guard, D.J. Hogg, is currently mired in a slump. Despite a smooth release and a beautiful, arcing shot, he’s converted just one of his last 15 three-point attempts.

That’s hard to swallow for a pure-shooting kid that’s always been able to fill up the basket.

A kid that lifted his high school team to a state championship with a buzzer-beating jumper.

A kid who hit 46 three-point goals as a collegiate freshman.

A kid who – before the slump – had converted 50 percent (14 of 28) from three-point range.

The Aggies fully expect Hogg to regain his touch. It’s just a matter of time.

Perhaps Hogg’s shots will start falling again tonight when the Aggies (5-2) face Denver (3-4) at Reed Arena.

Even more importantly, the Aggies hope Hogg regains his stroke for a major clash with Arizona on Dec. 17.

Matt Sachs, TexAgs Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy believes that Hogg will begin hitting shots soon.
But they’re not concerned about his shooting accuracy.

“I’m concerned he didn’t get any offensive rebounds the last two games,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “He’ll make shots.”

Until then, Hogg is compensating in other ways. He dished out a career-high nine assists and blocked three shots in an 86-69 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Monday night.

But make no mistake, Hogg was brought to A&M to shoot the basketball. The Aggies beat Baylor, Texas, UCLA and Oklahoma State to get him and are eager to reap the full fruits of their labor.

Hogg has the ability to score in bunches. Yet, he acknowledges the need to be more consistent.

“Definitely, being more consistent (is a goal),” the soft-spoken Hogg said recently. “I fell off that one game (vs. UCLA), but you’re going to have games like that.

“My defense is getting a lot better. I’ve got to focus in on that and focus on team defense. That will help me and help my team.”

Hogg is a key figure in whatever success the Aggies have this season.

For example, he scored 17 points and hit three treys in a 68-65 victory over Virginia Tech. He scored 25 points and hit five three-pointers in a 95-73 victory over Cal State Northridge.

He had five three-pointers and scored 17 points in a hard-fought, 65-63 loss to USC.

Some feel the Aggies ultimately will be as good as Hogg is. If he has a strong season, A&M will, too. If he struggles, the Aggies may struggle to return to the NCAA tournament.

A&M has demonstrated a powerful inside game with 6-10 Tyler Davis, 6-9 Robert Williams and 6-11 Tonny Trocha-Morelos.

Effective three-point shooting from Hogg figures to make defenses hesitate to sag inside on the Aggies’ post players.

If he’s shooting well, that could also relieve pressure on the Aggies’ unproven point guards.

The Aggies also need to identify a “go-to” player in clutch situations. They had late leads in their losses to UCLA and USC but seemed unsure where to go. Hogg could become that guy
The Aggies also need to identify a “go-to” player in clutch situations. They had late leads in their losses to UCLA and USC but seemed unsure where to go.

Hogg could become that guy.

That seems to put a lot of pressure on one player, but Hogg doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s not pressure,” he said. “I’ve been playing basketball my whole life. It’s still the same game. I just think of it as a game. The shots you make in workouts every day are the shots you take in a game. It’s nothing new. It’s just at a different time.”

Hogg understands he plays a key role. He also knows the Aggies have other options.

When he’s playing well along with all those options, Hogg believes the Aggies have the potential to go far.

Very far.

“I think we can be really good because we have so much fire power on the offensive end,” Hogg said. “(Guard) J.C. (Hampton) can shoot the ball really well. Admon can shoot the ball really well. Tonny can shoot well. With Tyler inside and with Robert coming off the bench with his crazy athleticism and just pure rebounding – he just does it so effortlessly.

“Once we get locked in and get used to close games and pulling them out, I think we could be a Final Four team. We just have to get through SEC play and the rest of this regular season.”

That may seem like a stretch.

But consider that UCLA followed up its narrow win over A&M with a victory over No. 1 Kentucky.

The Aggies proved they could challenge UCLA even with Hogg in a slump.

They could be really good when he breaks out of it.

Logan's Take

The Denver Pioneers are a young team trying to figure out how to accumulate wins moving forward. They turn the ball over more often than they force turnovers, but on average the Pioneers are winning the battle of the backboard. They play hard and shoot the ball well but don't make a lot of trips to the free throw line because they settle for what their opponent gives them.

For Texas A&M to extend its winning streak, the Aggies must do exactly what they've done to every other team this year; play inside-out, dominate the paint and knock down open shots.

The Pioneers rely on their 6'10" big man to anchor the offense, which means Tyler Davis will be an integral part of A&M's success (as usual), as he tries to neutralize and out-perform in the post. Another factor in how Billy Kennedy's team plays against Denver will be ball control and tempo. If the Aggies can hold true to the Pioneers' season averages - more turnovers than assists - and force turnovers that result in easy transition points, it will open up the floor and allow Texas A&M to control the tempo and style of play.

The biggest key to A&M coming away with a victory is to not overlook this opponent and stay focused on executing the offense and defensive principles.

In this game, I would like to see the Aggies completely dominate the backboard and out rebound the Pioneers by double digits. Gilder, Hogg, Trocha and Williams will most likely do what they do, but I would love to see Eric Vila and JC Hampton have big games against the Pioneers. It would give them some much needed confidence as the season nears conference play. 
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Preview & Logan's Take: Ags eager for Hogg to shake off shooting slump

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