A&M picked up its first SEC win of the season with a 74-70 victory over Mississippi State at Reed Arena. It was an expected win after starting the season with two tough matchups, a good Alabama team on the road and No. 1 Kentucky at home.
1. A&M came out and was hit with four fouls in the first 64 seconds of the second half but then went on a 9-0 run and looked well on its way to a “comfortable” victory. It didn’t end up that way because MSU followed it up with a 7-0 run of its own. Basketball can be a game of streaks and for the most part it’s because a team hits a few 3s, maybe gets a steal for an easy basket, but MSU’s stretch to get back in the game came when A&M missed two layups, two free throws and was unable to get the ball inbounds on the offensive end.
2. Bench play, or more specifically the lack of bench play. A&M’s subs were 1 of 8 from the field and had only 10 rebounds and two assists in 45 minutes of play. Almost all of that came from one player — who will be brought up on the other side of rants and raves. We are halfway through the season and it appears as if Coach Billy Kennedy has no idea what he’s going to get from his bench from game to game.
3. In a continuation of No. 2, where was Antwan Space? Space started the last two games with Jalen Jones out injured. He was 0 for 5 against UK and really didn’t come close on any of his shots, but he did have six rebounds and three blocks against a front line that averaged 6-foot-11.
1. Tavario Miller, who didn’t get out of his seat for eight of the first 12 games the Aggies played, has come on to be the No. 1 forward off the bench and deservedly so. Over the past two games he’s combined for 13 rebounds and four blocks. He’s also give the team energy, defense and toughness. Kennedy is never going to run a play for Miller, or at least I would hope not, but he has earned the 20 minutes a game he’s averaged in SEC play.
2. Free throw shooting late: Fans are holding their breath when the Aggies go to the free throw line. Shooting 64 percent is nothing to brag about by any means, but the Aggies stepped up at the end of the game, making 11 of their last 13 and 13 of their 18 once it was obvious all MSU was going to do was foul to prolong the game. One reason it seemed as if the Aggies weren’t making as many free throws as they were was because the Bulldogs came back down and hit three 3s, essentially gaining a point every possession.
3. A&M won: The Aggies are not Kentucky obviously and are not Florida or have the stars LSU or Arkansas have, so a win is a win. A&M had to create its own energy after the Kentucky game and they did just enough of that to get the victory.