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Texas A&M Basketball

Aggies aim to snap losing streak with better performance at rim vs. Florida

February 14, 2022
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Finishing at the rim is the key to ending a skid.

Difficulty converting layups and short jumpers in recent losses has been a major factor in Texas A&M’s Southeastern Conference basketball losing streak reaching eight games.

The Aggies (15-10, 4-8) hope to put an end to both issues when they face Florida (16-9, 6-6) at Reed Arena on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

A&M struggled inside, especially in the first half, of a 76-68 loss to LSU last week. Then, bothered by the size and reach of Auburn’s 7-foot-1 Walker Kessler who blocked 12 shots, the Aggies made just 12-of-32 layup attempts in a 75-58 loss to Auburn last Saturday.

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Normally dominant inside, Henry Coleman III struggled against Auburn’s size in Saturday’s loss. 

“Against LSU, 48 percent of our possessions, we shot rim shots (in the charge circle),” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “That’s really good. At Auburn, it was the same exact percentage. [Kessler] blocked a lot of them.

“We got to the rim 48 percent and converted 39 percent. That’s what we’re doing now. We’re doing every type of finish with managers knocking us around the pads.”

Williams is hoping that will better prepare the Aggies for physicality in the paint.

Henry Coleman III is A&M’s best inside scorer, but he converted just 3-of-10 shots against Auburn.

“Statistically speaking, Henry is a high field-goal percentage shooter at the rim,” Williams said. “That’s where he scores most of his points. I think he was 3-of-10 at Auburn. Some of that was the blocks by (Kessler).

"Our team at the rim, no matter their name, you need to make more than we’ve made the last two-and-a-half, three games.”

The problem is 6-foot-11 Florida senior forward Colin Castleton is second only to Kessler among SEC shot blockers. He is averaging 2.7 rejections per game.

Castleton is also an offensive threat. He averages 15.5 points, is second in the SEC in field goal percentage and averages 8.8 rebounds.

“Everything runs through (Castleton) — ball screens, reversals, post touches, high-lows. (He’s a) Very efficient. Very, very talented player,” Williams said. “On the backside of that, some of it is a derivative of how you defend (Castleton).

“They’re shooting 27 threes a game. And so in accordance to how you defend (Castleton), a byproduct of that is they’re going to have four players on the floor around (Castleton) that can shoot and make threes.”

“"Our team at the rim, no matter their name, you need to make more than we’ve made the last two-and-a-half, three games.”
- A&M head coach Buzz Williams

Guard Myreon Jones had hit 49 treys. Guard Tyree Appleby has 42.

“We’ll have to work really hard at trying to do the best we can with (Castleton),” Williams said. “And then be in a position to contest their threes. That will be what we have to do to have a chance.”

The Aggies did a good job contesting threes in the loss to Auburn. They allowed Auburn to convert just 3-of-25 shots from behind the arc.

“Our contests were much better on time,” Williams said. “But a lot of the late contests come when you’re on the help side trying to defend the ball. Now, you have to get out to the weak side to contest the shot.

“Part of the reason we were better on the contest against Auburn was we were able to stay in front of the ball.”

The Aggies again must be effective defending at the arc. If they can do that and finish more in the paint, they just might end their skid.

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Aggies aim to snap losing streak with better performance at rim vs. Florida

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