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Texas A&M Scouting Report & How We Win

Welcome to the most important week of 2021-22 Kentucky basketball to date. On the line: a pair of Quad-1 wins, a potential top 5 AP ranking, and the top slot in the SEC.

This Saturday, Kentucky will travel to play Auburn, the current top team in the SEC and #2 team in the AP poll, in maybe the most hostile road environment in the country. But before then, we must first take on the team second in the SEC standings, Texas A&M.

Texas A&M, with a record of 15-2, is off to their best start since the 2015-16 season, a team that featured future NBA talents Alex Caruso and Danuel House. They also opened up conference play with a perfect 4-0 start and have won their last 8 in a row. However, they have not looked overly convincing in any of these wins, only beating Missouri by 3 points and Georgia by 2 - two teams we beat by an average of 21.

They don't have any terrible losses, only falling to Wisconsin and TCU earlier in the season, but they also don't have any great wins. This means they will be hunting for a resume defining win over Kentucky to get a high seed in the NCAA tournament. Here is how Kentucky avoids that:

#1 - Avoid The Trap

For those who do not know, a "Trap Game" is when a team has to face a lesser opponent in between 2 much better opponents, making the team look past the lesser opponent.

Kentucky is coming off playing a rival in #22 Tennessee this past weekend and has to travel to face #2 Auburn this upcoming weekend. Kentucky CANNOT look past the Texas A&M game on Wednesday by getting too caught with the bigger games on each end.

Texas A&M is not a pushover team, especially when they are at home. If we lack in preparation or in-game intensity, we very well could get caught off guard and lose. Playing this game with the same energy we did against Tennessee is step 1 in coming away with a tough road victory.

#2 - Quality Minutes Off Of The Bench

Texas A&M is one of the deepest teams in the SEC with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game. They also have well balanced scoring up and down their roster with their leading scorer, Quenton Jackson, coming off of the bench.

We have seen our team go through scoring droughts and give up big runs when we have gone to our bench in past games. We also have historically seen key players get in early foul trouble when we play SEC opponents on the road.

Our key rotation pieces in Davion Mintz and Jacob Toppin - along with guys who don't normally see as many minutes like Bryce Hopkins, Daimion Collins, and Lance Ware - need to match the production that is coming off of Texas A&M's bench.

Texas A&M does not have the star power at the top to keep up with Kentucky's best players. Our role players providing quality minutes off of the bench is step two in leaving College Station with a victory.

#3 - Backcourt Domination

This past Saturday, we saw Kentucky put an absolute beat down on Tennessee, primarily due to elite guard play from Sahvir Wheeler, TyTy Washington, Davion Mintz, and Kellan Grady. They combined for 75 points on 75% shooting from the field, 56% from three, and 100% from the free throw line.

When our backcourt plays on THAT level, we can and will beat any team in the country. Of course those numbers are unsustainable, but our backcourt has the personnel to outplay anyone else's guards on any given night.

This game specifically, our guard play will likely determine the game. Texas A&M's defense plays with a lot of on-ball and off-ball pressure. They will put on both full court and half court presses, look to trap with double teams, and play the passing lanes very aggressively.

Our guards limiting turnovers and breaking down the defensive pressure to create open looks is the final key to winning this game.

Other Highlights And Key Matchups:

This will be a battle of two of the most efficient offenses in the country. Kentucky leads the SEC in field goal percentage (50.5%), with Texas A&M closely behind in third (46.9%). Also, the Aggies are atop the SEC in three point percentage (37.4%) with Kentucky in second (36.1%).

It will also be a battle of two of the most productive big men in the conference. As we all know, Oscar Tshiebwe has been... well, he has been Oscar. But on the other side, Henry Coleman III has been one of the hottest players in the country. Since the start of SEC play, the sophomore Duke transfer has averaged 18.3 points on 69% shooting.

Luckily for the Cats, we have seen Oscar rise to the occasion against his toughest matchups, including Mark Williams of Duke, Armando Bacot of North Carolina, John Fulkerson of Tennessee, and the 7'5" Jamarion Sharp of Western Kentucky.

This matchup between the Wildcats and Aggies will take place on Wednesday at 8:30 ET. You can watch either in Reed Arena in College Station, Texas or in the comfort of your home on SEC Network.

I predict Texas A&M gives us everything they have, but ultimately falls short with Kentucky winning 76-71, lead by double-doubles from both Sahvir Wheeler and Oscar Tshiebwe.



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