If you want to know what one Aggie from Texas (and even another from Kansas) were thinking during last night's game, you can find it here. (It should be noted that even with some of A&M's late fouls; they were whistled for 17 compared to only 16 for the Hawks. An enormous discrepancy if ever there was one.)
From my perspective, I could not be much happier. Obviously being tied atop the league and without a conference blemish is welcomed, but more importantly, this team is really coming along. Last night was far and away their most complete game of the season and was catalyzed by playing their best defense of the season. Texas A&M is by no means a great team, but they've won on the road and just a few days ago they were within 6 points of the fifth ranked Sooners. So they were plenty capable. They were also plenty experienced (every starter was either a Junior or Senior). And yet we looked vastly superior in every way from the opening tip to the final buzzer. We're clearly a different team in Allen Fieldhouse, but that was a really good win.
Now if we can get two more in our next two tries we'll really be in business. From what I can tell, Bill expected to be about right where we are. Specifically, I think he expected to be 15-3 overall and 3-0 in the league. And all along, he's been looking to these next two games as our indicators. If we can go on the road and take care of lesser (but capable) teams in succession, we'll really have an opportunity to make some noise in the league this year. After that we'll welcome in the Buffs for their yearly thrashing in the Fieldhouse. But then it gets a whole lot tougher with 3 of the next 4 on the road and all in tough environments – Baylor, Missouri and K-State, with a home game against the Pokes mixed in. 4-0 in that stretch isn't completely out of the question, but it's not very likely either; and really, 2-2 would be acceptable – especially with the next two in Allen against Nebraska & Iowa State as both are presumed wins. For those following at home that would put as at 10-2 with trips to Norman and Lubbock remaining, as well as visits from Missouri and Texas. So while that would be a good position, it's all contingent on winning these next two.
I won't be submitting grades for this game as I was pleased with everyone who stepped on the floor. Some may look at Tyrel's 2 points and 1 steal and assume he didn't play well. But while he wasn't knocking down the threes we look to get from him, he was stepping into passing lanes and driving aggressively into the lane to create some offense. Neither one of these things led to much for us, but both are things we haven't seen a lot from him and will be crucial to his development going forward.
And by the way, welcome to the party, Mario Little. 6/6 shooting for 15 points and 4 boards in just 14 minutes. Umm, yes please. Though he looked plenty physical, he just doesn't have the size to guard the four and unfortunately, he's still too slow to guard on the wing. But the mid-range game he displayed last night was a thing of beauty. Obviously we shouldn't expect that kind of shooting every time out, but as he gets healthier and gives us more minutes, he's going to create some very tough match-up problems for a lot of teams.
Quite frankly, Sherron's five turnovers and questionable shot selection late were the only things worth complaining about in this one. Sure, I'd love the Morris' to start knocking down both free throws every once in a while, but for the time being that just isn't going to happen.
Those tiny gaffs aside, we really have little to bemoan. We trapped the post beautifully, completely taking Elonu and even Davis out of the game. Brady single-handedly shut down Josh Carter despite giving up a lot of size and even more athleticism. And we forced 20 turnovers against a much more experienced team, while only turning it over 12 times ourselves against their pressure defense. Really, if you're not extremely happy with everything that went on last night, there's not much pleasing you. Now, as we've said a few times lately, we just need to figure out a way to take this act on the road.