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Texas A & M: First Look

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Here is the beauty of being a real two (major) sports school. While we are still riding wave of Saturday's euphoria we can smoothly pivot and focus on our regal basketball program, which just happens to be number 1 in the nation. Unlike certain wanna be, poser two-sports school we don't have to stew (and whine) about a demoralizing, devastating defeat in the hands of our bitter rival for an entire year.

Anyways following blowout (but somewhat snoozing) wins in three consecutive games, Ben Ball warriors are getting ready for a marquee showdown this Saturday in Anaheim. Bruins are taking on No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies (although they may drop down into top-15 range following a loss against LSU, a team we know something about) this Saturday.

Aggies are going to be a formidable opponent. They are coming off a loss against LSU. Coincidentally it was the LSU Tigers, which knocked them out of the tournament in a close hard fought second round game last year. It was the Aggies first appearance in the Madness since 1987. And now with their veteran leadership intact, great things are expected from Aggies, as the Big-12 media hordes picked them to finish second in the Big-12.

Here is the player rotation for the Aggies, via Sportsline:

PLAYER ROTATION
Usual Starters -- F Antanas Kavaliauskas, C Joseph Jones, G Dominique Kirk, G Acie Law, G Josh Carter. Key Subs -- G Donald Sloan, C Chinemulu Elonu.
The two key guys are senior PG Acie Law, and junior C. Joseph Jones. From a release in the Aggies official website from this past September:
Law has started for the Aggies since his freshman year and has played a large role in A&M's resurgence under Coach Billy Gillispie. Last season, he averaged 16.1 points and led A&M to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, earning first-team All-Big 12 honors by several major newspapers.

Law is one of only four players in A&M history to reach 1,000 career points with at least 300 assists and 100 steals. Athlon ranks Law as the fifth-best "Floor Leader" in the country. The only other Big 12 player on the Cousy Award list is Kansas' junior Russell Robinson.

Law and junior Joseph Jones also were named to Athlon's preseason honorable mention All-America team. Jones averaged 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds as a sophomore and was a consensus second-team All-Big 12 selection. The magazine calls Jones the ninth-best "Post Man" in the nation.
More on Acie Law from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
The Aggies' rapid ascension, by no coincidence, has mirrored coach Billy Gillispie's arrival and Law's development.

He's become a quintessential point guard -- a floor leader, a sure ballhandler, a nimble passer and, yes, even a shooter.

"It's funny now, because a lot of people talk about how I can't shoot," Law said. "But when I was a kid, that's what I was known for. Now everybody says that's one of the flaws of my game."

A critique that now seems based more on aesthetics than facts.

The left-handed Law shoots a knuckleball with virtually no rotation. He claims past broken wrists are to blame. Gillispie, however, pinpointed the culprit as being Law's thumb on his right hand, his guide hand.

Gillispie said the thumb turns in as Law shoots and actually forces the spin off the ball.
Well that article was written in preview of Texas A&M-LSU game, which LSU won, and Law ended up having a pretty tough night. However, I imagine he and his team-mates are going to be fired up for UCLA. So Darren Collison will have his hands full on Saturday.

Besides Law the leader is Jones and more on him from Sportsline:
Although he is a burly 6-9, 250-pound center that causes matchup problems underneath, junior Joseph Jones is just as adept making defenders chase him outside. He made 2 of 3 3-point attempts against Pacific, raising his career total for 3-pointers to six.
So far Jones (15.1 ppg, 5.1 reb/pg) and Law (15.0 pts/pg) are living up to their pre-season expectations leading the Aggies in scoring.

Aggies have another weapon besides Law and Jones. Bruins also need to keep an eye on is Antanas Kavaliauskas.   Kavaliauskas is a 6-10, 250 senior center, who is third in the team in scoring (12.0) and leads the team in rebounding with 5.7 rebounds a game. While rest of Aggies had a bad shooting night against the Tigers, Kavaliauskas kept them in the game before getting shut down in the second half.

Kavaliauskas and Jones will pose formidable challenges for the Bruin front court. Aggies are averaging 74.3 points a game while giving up only 50.8 points a game. We will post more clips and notes on the Aggies.

I have confidence given the depth we have on our bench, and how we have consistently out muscled and worn down game after game, however, I think it will be very difficult if we start slow like we have been most of this season. Our guys will need to come out focused and on fire this Saturday.

We are really interested in hearing from BN members of Texas on the Aggies. Have you guys seen the Aggies play? What kind of challenges they will pose for AA, LRMAM, DC and rest of the gang?

Let us know in the comment thread.

GO BRUINS.