Texas A&M gets its first and likely toughest true home test tonight with Southern California visiting Reed Arena.
The Trojans are a legitimate NCAA team, having made it to the tourney last March, and returning such stars as 6-foot-10 Bennie Boatwright and 6-1 point guard Jordan McLaughlin, both who averaged double-digits in scoring last season a very deep team.
"A Pac-12 team a team I think will be in the NCAA tournament next year and when we have an opportunity to win those games in the preseason you have to," A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "Last year we did and it was a big plus for us. It' a true home game, Arizona game is in Houston so this is the only BCS home game that we have, we have to go to West Virginia so when you get a chance to beat a team at home you have to."
A&M beat Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State at home last season on the way to its first NCAA berth in five years.
A win over Andy Enfield's Southern Cal would be the first step in making it back-to-back appearances.
It sounds absurdly early, but there are only so many games in which to build a résumé before conference play begins and then if the rest of the conference hasn't done well it becomes more difficult to climb the RPI ladder.
"Pac-12 is always a pretty good conference and they are a tournament team definitely so we'll see what we look like agianst another high-ranked, well-known team in the country," sophomore wing DJ Hogg said.
A&M's leading scorer Tyler Davis will also be getting his first test going up against USC's bigs. Chimezie Metu is a 6-11 sophomore that Kennedy said will one day be playing in the NBA. Boatright is 6-10 so the battle in the paint should be more interesting than when the Aggies dominated in the first two games.
"Our post game I think is going to match up well with them but their experience on the permiter with [juniors] Elijah Stewart and Jordan McLaughlin, they have played a lot of games and won a lot of games," Kennedy said. "How are we going to handle that?"
The Trojans love to get up and down the court, averaging 80 points a game last season and just shy of that in their first two wins so far.
"They are known for length and ahtleticism so it's going to be a nice test for us," Hogg said. "We'll see if our guards can handle the pressure and bigs can finish over height," Hogg said of the Trojans who have played more zone this year than last. "Hopefully our guards hit shots bring them out of the zone and let our bigs go to work."