Coming into the game with Kansas State, this could have been considered a must-win game for Texas A&M. The Aggies had not played a challenging non-conference schedule, but had rolled through it to a 14-1 start. Conference play, however, has exposed them -- consider them off the bubble and out of any NCAA Tournament discussion after their 65-60 home loss to the Wildcats.
This was a defensive struggle with neither team cracking 40-percent shooting. Kansas State, though, had much more effective guard play. Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente provided the slashing and drives to the basket, while Fred Brown hit the threes to keep Texas A&M from collapsing inside.
Texas A&M had its opportunities, but as close as they would come, it was always just short. Whether it was missing free throws, not hitting the threes, making a bad turnover at the wrong moment, or failing to box out Darrin Kent for putbacks just as the game seemed to be turning, the Aggies seemed to do just enough to get close, but no more.
The Wildcats will not make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team, but they've really turned their season around. In a weak non-con slate, the Wildcats lost three straight against the only quality opponents on the schedule. Then they started the Big 12 portion with four straight losses. Since then, however, they have won five straight including Missouri and Texas. Right now, they are the team in the Big 12 no one else wants to play.
Credit needs to be given to K-State coach Frank Martin. He was hired mainly to make sure Bill Walker stayed and Michael Beasley came to the Wildcats. He has actually done a fine job of more than just recruiting talent. He has got this team playing well and learning to be a team.
That Fork in the Back of Texas A&M Has Gotten Much Deeper originally appeared on NCAA Basketball FanHouse on Sat, 07 Feb 2009 19:29:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.