On Wed., Dec. 4, 2013, the floors of Reed Arena were on fire tonight in front of a decidedly smaller crowd (only 4,850) than this year’s Texas Aggie men’s basketball team deserved. The Aggies powered up and down Reed Arena shooting 50% on the night, and they also produced Coach Billy Kennedy’s 250th career win. The game was truly distinctive, dynamic, and exciting thanks to seven 3-point shots from tonight’s top shooter, Jamal Jones. If you did not see this game, you missed something spectacular.
Attendance is the only troublesome part of tonight’s sports contest. Compared to last night’s faithful force for the women’s game vs. San Diego State, it’s a clear sign of either low or no expectations in this year’s Fighting Texas Aggies men’s basketball program. However, the parking lot was filled at the offcampus tutoring business, so tomorrow’s tests may have been a factor, yet the faithful Hullaballoo Band, Reed Rowdies, Corps of Cadets and Yell Leaders brought great spirit to Reed Arena.
Houston started off with 3 attempts to get their first bucket and finally got the first 2 points of the game. The Aggies lost their first possession by stepping out of bounds and the Cougars managed to be the most impressive in their moves up and down the court. In the first 5 minutes of the game, the lead had changed just two times. Finally the game was tied at the 14-minute mark.
Kourtney Roberson managed to have one shot blocked by the Cougars but came right back down the court with a hanging slam dunk to give the Aggies their first real lead, and after selfless passing, Jamal Jones knocked in a 3-pointer to put the Ags up by 5. Jones then missed on his next 3-point attempt, but grabbed yet another to put the Aggies up by 8. At this point, Houston was shooting 28.6% from the field and the Aggies had powered through some strong passing and waiting for the open shot to manage 47.1%. At the 9 point mark left in the first half, both teams had played without a bunch of needless fouls, which was refreshing to see. The Aggies were also making twice as many of their 3-point attempts as the Cougars.
Caruso was really outdoing himself on the court the first half, primarily with his passing and assists. With just 4 minutes left in the first half the Aggies were rebounding like crazy, better on their defensive rebounds than offensive. The Aggies had 17 total rebounds, 13 defensive and 4 offensive; the Cougars had 15 rebounds, only 6 defensive and 9 offensive.
As Jordan Green made his second basket, the Aggie Hullaballoo Band was so pleased that they yelled out the familiar ESPN “da da da, da da da” chant, noting that would have been one for their Sports Center highlights. Davonte Fitzgerald pulled out two 3-point shots out of his arsenal and took the Aggies up by 6 at the half, 38 to 32. They’d managed to shoot 55.6% compared to the Cougars’ 36.1%. In the first half, the largest Cougar lead was 4 points.
The Cougars exploded back onto the court and brought the score back to within 1, the closest they’d been in a long time, with the Aggies barely holding on 38-37. Jamal Jones then opened up and snagged his perfect 3-point shot, and moving up to 4 of 6 on the night. Jordan Green got the ball to Roberson for another two and then Roberson was back to the Aggie bucket for another. With the lead 45 to 37 Houston called an expected time out. Jones had 12 points 6 rebounds and 2 assists and there were still 16 minutes left in the game.
The Cougars’ TaShawn Thomas was the only Cougar in double-digits, with 12. J.J. Richardson looks like he belongs in the NBA by his moves in and around the basket but the Aggies defended him well as he was held to 2 of 4 field goals and 2 free throw points. By the middle of the second half, Richardson had 10 points. The Aggies kept substituting players back and forth to keep them fresh.
Just when it appeared the Cougars might catch up, Antwan Space had a bucket, then Houston had to give the ball up when Jordan Green stole it and passed to Space for another Space-man bucket. Aggies 51-41 at this point. Jordan Green might look into football as he intercepted (oops, wrong sport) another Cougars’ pass but the Ags couldn’t capitalize on it. So Green went back for the defensive rebound, got it down the court and the Ags turned it over. Houston finally scored after being in a dry hole for several minutes.
Just when you thought the Aggies might be a bit clumsy in passing and moving around the basket, Jamal Jones grabbed his 5th 3-point score and gave the Aggies an 11-point lead. When substituted back in the game, J-Mychal Reece shot a great 3-pointer and then Antwan Space tipped a Cougars pass back to the Aggies’ advantage. Tavario Miller came up with the ball and J-Mychal came up with another layup. Meanwhile Alex Caruso had drawn 3 personal fouls but he was all over the Cougars like nobody’s business. He had been driving them crazy all night.
Meanwhile J-Mychal Reece quietly went to double digits with 4 of 4 field goals, 1 3-pointer, and 1 for 1 free throw as the Aggies went up 64-51.
Roberson battled under the Cougars basket and took the ball away and Jamal Jones hit his 6th 3-pointer of the night, as the Aggies went up by 14. Davonte Fitzgerald was perfect on his free throws and the Aggies had a still-uncomfortable 16 point lead. Houston had some real shooters on their team, yet the Aggies would not let them close enough to the basket to really concentrate.
Jamal Jones shot his 7th 3-point shot with 1 minute to go in the game and then Coach Kennedy welcomed him back on the bench and substituted in Dylan Johns. The crowd made a lot of noise for Jones, who’d answered their “We want chicken” chant, for the Raising Cane’s chicken prize whenever the Aggies score 70 points in a game.
Overall, it was a perfect win in many ways. At the beginning of the game, it really did appear that the days of Phi Slamma Jamma might be coming back to life, but the Aggies on the court weren’t even born then, so they adopted their “no fear” approach and worked Coach Billy Kennedy’s game plan to a beveled “T.”
On the night, the Aggies shot a flat 50.0% of their field goals and a dynamic 43.5% of their 3-point tries, making 10 of 23 attempts, with 7 of those belonging to Jamal Jones. Four players scored in double digits, again Jones being the leading scorer. Jones was equally valued on defense with 7 rebounds, 5 of those defensive, plus 2 assists as well as 3 turnovers, but no one cared about that last statistic. Kourtney Roberson was the strong silent type as he just moved right up to 14 points, 7 rebounds, 6 of those defensive, and 2 assists.
Jordan Green may have only had 6 points but he had 6 assists also pulled in 4 rebounds; Davonte Fitzgerald was outstanding with 19 points and 4 rebounds. J-Mychal Reece was near dead solid perfect with 10 points. Never mind Alex Caruso didn’t have his usual hot hand in shooting, with only 4 points to his name. What he doesn’t seemingly get credit for is his in-your-face defense that rattled the Cougars the entire night, including 4 assists, and 1 block, plus 3 defensive rebounds. Antwan Space played well with 7 points and Fabyon Harris was unselfish in his play, as he always is. In the second half, the Aggies’ largest lead was 19 points, which, of course, came close to the end of the game.
On the horizon: Texas A&M Athletics announced that Aggie students who had an all-sports pass can bring a friend and get in friend for free, all of December and January. If that’s not the best news for students, nothing else is. The next home game will be Dec. 14 as the Ags welcome McNeese State. To all Aggies: come be a part of the heart of the matter. Your attendance will make that difference.