The Tennessee Volunteers head down to College Station this weekend to take on the Texas A&M Aggies.
The Vols are coming off of their “most complete game of the season”. Meanwhile, the Aggies have lost seven of their last nine games.
Rick Barnes says this was the #Vols most complete game on the season.— Cory Sanning (@CorySanning) January 30, 2019
"I thought we kept our poise and it was the first time we've had 2 consistent halves in quite awhile."
Will Tennessee be able to continue their torrid pace through SEC play? All signs point to yes, but there is always that dreaded thought of “a loss will happen eventually” lurking in the back of fans’ heads.
But that thought isn’t in this team’s head and that’s all that matters. Let’s dive into Saturday’s preview.
Conference Record and Standings
- Southeastern Conference
- 8-11 (1-6) t-11th
- Lost last game
- G TJ Starks: 13.3 PPG, 34.67FG%, 67.2 FT%, 21.9 3PT%, 2.7 REB, 3.6 AST, 3.9 TO, 0.9 STL, 29.5 MIN
The sophomore guard finished out his freshman campaign on a strong note to garner a spot on the 2017 SEC All-Freshman team, but his 2018 season hasn’t gone as expected.
Over the final 15 games of the season, Starks averaged 14.7 points, while shooting 43 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent from three. Those numbers have reduced dramatically this year as his playing time has increased - which is a painfully bleak sign of a lack of progress.
It all came to a head when he was benched earlier in the year during the Valparaiso game.
But that doesn’t mean that he can’t get better as the season goes on and what better time to do it than against the top-ranked team in the country?
He has to control his turnovers if he wants to get better. When he is on his game, he is one of the better passers in the NCAA and the Aggies can be tough to beat.
- G Savion Flagg: 12.3 PPG, 47.4 FG%, 62.2 FT%, 28.8 3PT%, 8.0 REB, 2.6 AST, 2.6 TO, 0.8 STL, 33.8 MIN
Even though Flagg is listed at guard, the 6-foot-7 217-pound sophomore plays is more of a small forward in this offense. He does just about everything like you would expect from the position and he may be A&M’s best overall player.
Flagg mostly suffers from a lack of a supporting cast. If he were on a better team, he’d most likely be one of the featured players in the SEC.
Regardless, the Vols will have to be on the lookout for Flagg, even if he didn’t play so well against LSU.
The Aggies hoped to get a big win against the 19th-ranked LSU Tigers Wednesday night, but were handled in a 72-57 defeat.
The Tigers’ Tremont Waters went ballistic, scoring 36 points that included six three-pointers. He started the game 5/7 from beyond the arc, helping LSU mount a 37-36 halftime lead before they pulled away in the second half.
A&M continued to struggle on offense, hitting just 33.3% of their shots that included a 14.3% (3/21) effort from three-point range.
Starks led the team with 21 points on 36.8% shooting, but reserve forward Josh Nebo was the only other player to reach double-digits.
They did shoot 78.3% from the charity stripe compared to their season average of 68.4%, but you’re not going to win games in the SEC with just good free throw shooting.
So the Aggies can’t shoot, are mediocre at best on defense, and can’t hit free throws?
This doesn’t sound like a game that College Station will want to attend, despite the fact that the No. 1 team in the country is coming to Reed Arena.
Unless the Vols completely overlook this team, expect another double-digit SEC win.
Admiral Schofield should have another good night and the Vols should be able to lock down A&M’s offense without much of an issue.
Per head coach Rick Barnes, Jordan Bowden should be able to play in this game. That’s great news for a team coming off a dominating 22-point win in Columbia, South Carolina.
Take the Vols and whatever spread they’re given.