Last year, the Texas A&M Aggies were one of the best men’s basketball teams in the SEC.
The Aggies still have Tyler Davis, an immensely talented post player, and he’s arguably improved in his sophomore season despite trading some efficiency for output as his usage numbers have risen. He averages about 14 points and seven boards a game, and he will be a load to handle for either John Egbunu or Kevarrius Hayes.
But what A&M lost from last year’s outfit has been impossible to replace. Seniors Alex Caruso, Danuel House, and Jalen Jones steered the ship for Billy Kennedy last year, and this year’s team doesn’t have a player on par with any of them at the guard and wing positions. Admon Gilder is a combo guard who lacks Caruso’s feel at the point, and D.J. Hogg and J.C. Hampton are more efficient from outside but far more limited overall than House and Jones.
That’s made for a rough transition for the Aggies, who have beaten Virginia Tech and essentially no one else of note. They’re No. 66 in KenPom, but just 5-6 in SEC play, and three of those five wins are over LSU and Missouri, with the Tigers of the Ozark coming up just short in a 76-73 loss in College Station this week. A&M has gotten up for some big non-conference games, losing close ones to UCLA, Arizona, and West Virginia, but it also no-showed a 42-point pasting at Kentucky, and has just two true road wins — one at LSU, the other at Ole Miss — on the year.
Florida’s run of form, led by point guards Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza, suggests that the Gators should be able to dust these Aggies on this Saturday — but Florida’s only other home nooner this year resulted in a surprising and lethargic loss to Vanderbilt. If the Gators can shoot as they have been over their five-game winning streak, this should be a relatively easy victory.
If not, Florida may have to rely on its asphyxiating defense to breathe easy at game’s end.