Photo by Brianna Hillman, TexAgs
Texas A&M Basketball

Aggies look to end slump against Northwestern State

December 3, 2018

Two wins in six basketball games looks bad.

But maybe Texas A&M is better than its 2-4 record indicates.

The Aggies are off to slow start, but three of their four losses have come by a combined 10 points. The other loss was to No. 1 ranked Gonzaga.

Coach Billy Kennedy would certainly like to think the Aggies can be better than they’ve shown. But he’s not making excuses.

“Usually, your record is who you are,” he said on Friday. “We just weren’t ready as a team yet. We’re still trying to figure out the chemistry of our group and how to finish things off.

“When you play big people you have to execute down the stretch. Against Washington and Minnesota and even Cal-Irvine we had a lead at one point or another and we didn’t finish them off because of our decision-making. If we get better in those areas I think we have a chance to be a much better team.”

The Aggies have had more than a week to work on their deficiencies. They can get a look at how much progress they’ve made when they face Northwestern State (2-5) on Monday night at Reed Arena.

Lia Musgrave, TexAgs
The Aggies have struggled out of the gates but will look to bounce back on Monday.

Northwestern State’s 6-foot-8 center Ishmael Lane and guard DeAndre Love score in double figures. Still, they’ve lost four games by at least 25 points and have been outscored by an average of 10.7 points to rank 323rd in the nation in scoring margin.

They’re also among nation’s weakest rebounding teams and struggle on defense. They have allowed an average of 77.6 points.

Kennedy, though, is more concerned with his own team’s shortcomings.

“We’ve spent some time of zone and zone offense,” Kennedy said. “Obviously, we want to shoot the ball better but we can run better offense against the zone.  We’ve spent a lot of time on special situations — finishing games. Those are some things we needed some work on.

“One of the emphasis also this week is getting in the lane and making plays for other people, sharing the ball and not trying to play one-on-one.”

The Aggies shared the basketball much better in their last outing. They accumulated 18 assists in a 74-62 victory over South Alabama, a game in which they led by as much as 23 points in the second half.

Sophomore guard Savion Flagg erupted for 25 points in that win.

Flagg leads the Aggies with a 15.5 scoring average, while fellow sophomore guard T.J. Starks averages 13.5.  Also, Jay Jay Chandler and Christian Mekowulu are averaging over nine points.

But the Aggies need a boost from Wendell Mitchell, a highly-touted junior college transfer counted on to boost the offense.

Mitchell has been slowed by injuries and his production has suffered. He’s scored just 11 points thus far. He has yet to convert a 3-point attempt and missed all eight shots he attempted in a 69-64 loss to Minnesota on Nov. 18 — the last time he saw game action.

Yet, Mitchell said he’s not discouraged by the slow start for the team or him.

“It’s not frustrating at all,” he said. “It’s a long season. We’ve got to keep learning and building and growing.

“It’s a long season. We’ve got to keep learning and building and growing.”
- Wendell Mitchell

“As far as for me I getting healthy. I’m just about 100 percent. I feel great. I just want to keep learning and getting into my own groove. Just getting back to basics, really.”

The Aggies need to get in a groove soon. A challenging schedule looms before A&M opens Southeastern Conference play against Arkansas on Jan. 5.

Upcoming opponents Boston College, Oregon State and Marshall all went into the weekend at 5-1. Valparaiso is 4-3 with competitive losses to Wake Forest and West Virginia. Texas Southern is 3-4, but has beaten Baylor and Oregon.

“Look at our schedule … Boston College, Oregon State, Marshall – all teams that are playing really well at this time,” Kennedy said. “Marshall was an NCAA Tournament team last year.  We’ve got to get better in a hurry.”

Discussion from...

Aggies look to end slump against Northwestern State

How long do you want to ignore this user?
This is just my opinion but we're not as bad as our record indicates. However, we have got to figure out how to beat the zone soundly without having to shoot out of it. Our defense is right there and certainly will keep us in many games this year, but we can't sustain great defense without seeing the ball going through the net at the other end. Our lack of chemistry and decision making down the stretch is what's costing us ball games.

I hope these guys don't look at our record and start to believe the hype that we are what our record indicates. It's a long season and we need to keep grindin', win the 50/50 balls, and focus on getting better together as a team.
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I think we're as bad or worse than our record indicates
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