Game Preview: UW vs. Texas A&M (Game #10)

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UW Texas AM preview copy
UW Texas AM preview copy /

The game will be broadcast on FSN NW and KJR-950 in Seattle, or your local Husky radio affiliate elsewhere (click here to find yours).

Tale of the tape:

Texas AM tale of the tape copy
Texas AM tale of the tape copy /

What you need to know about the Huskies:

The Huskies last played on Saturday evening at home, where they defeated Portland, 89-54 .

The Huskies are ranked 22nd in the AP Poll and 19th in the Coaches’ Poll.

The Huskies will need to continue their winning ways at home to keep their place in the Top 25 as they head toward the Pac-10 portion of their schedule which begins on New Year’s Eve against Oregon State.

Quincy Pondexter has distinguished himself as the Huskies’ best player this season. He’s averaging 21.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 1.9 assists per game. The other Husky star Isaiah Thomas rebounded from a tough game against Georgetown with an efficient 16 point, eight assist, zero turnover performance against Portland on Saturday. Thomas is averaging 19.9 points per game this year.

The Aggies hold a 3-1 advantage lifetime against the Huskies. The teams last played early in the 2007/2008 season, when Texas A&M defeated Washington, 77-63.

Projected lineup: G – Abdul Gaddy, G – Isaiah Thomas, F – Quincy Pondexter, F – Darnell Gant, F – Matthew Bryan-Amaning

Husky to watch:

Freshman guard, Abdul Gaddy: It’s not as if we haven’t been watching Gaddy’s every move anyway, but the young Husky had been showing signs of turning the corner before Saturday’s lackluster effort. Gaddy earned the start against Portland, but got into foul trouble and failed to stand out.

Sure, it hasn’t been as easy a transition to the college game for Abdul as it’s been for athletic freaks like John Wall or Avery Bradley, but the potential is there. Gaddy hasn’t been bad at all, but if he can be good the rest of the way, some of the Huskies’ problems (turnover woes, and their lack of a scoring option behind Thomas and Pondexter) may begin to solve themselves.

What you need to know about Texas A&M:

The Aggies come into the game at 9-2, having most recently defeated The Citadel on Saturday, 71-50.

Texas A&M is ranked 19th in the AP Poll, and is unranked in the Coaches’ Poll, but received the most votes of any unranked team, so they’re essentially ranked #26 by the coaches.

Last season, the Aggies finished tied for fourth in the Big 12 Conference, and finished the season with a 23-9 record overall (9-7 in the Big 12). The Aggies lost in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, 92-66, to Connecticutt.

Head Coach Mark Turgeon guides a team that’s deep at the guard positions, but thinner in the post. In his first two seasons with the team, Turgeon led the Aggies to the Tournament twice, and picked up 49 victories.

Star guard, Donald Sloan averages 17.4 points, 4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and is shooting 47.4% from three-point range. He’s an efficient scorer too, and can pick up points from deep, at the line, and through penetration.

Fellow senior Derrick Roland is Sloan’s backcourt mate, and averages 11.1 points per game to go with his stifling All-Big-12 defense. Sixth man B.J. Holmes is a heady player who might be the Aggies’ best outside shooter. He averages 9.7 points, shooting 37.2% from deep.

6’9″, 240 lb. Bryan Davis is the best post presence Texas A&M has got. He’s scored in double figures five times so far this season, and averages 9.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

Projected lineup: G – Donald Sloan, G – Dash Harris, G – Derrick Roland, F – Nathan Walkup, F – Bryan Davis

Aggie to watch:

Senior guard, Donald Sloan: Sloan led the Aggies with 18 points when these teams played two seasons ago. He’ll be even tougher this time around as he’s exhibited an ability to carry his team for stretches this season. Slowing him down with bigger Huskies may be necessary if Venoy Overton and Isaiah Thomas struggle to contain him on defense.

The path to victory:

Rise to the occasion: The Huskies have not exactly shined when the competition has been strongest so far this season. This is the last opportunity for the Huskies to add a signature victory to their non-conference resume. Without a win Tuesday, assuming Cal doesn’t eek its way back into the Top 25, it’s very likely the Huskies record against ranked teams will sit at 0-3 come Tournament time — not a ringing endorsement of their talent. Tonight is an early put-up or shut-up game for the Dawgs.

Ball control: Aspects of this game may resemble the one against Texas Tech. A talented core of guards will make us pay for every mistake, and will challenge the Huskies to execute better than they have in most of this season’s games. Lots of deep breaths, and lots of Abdul Gaddy, may prove the right recipe for the Dawgs tonight. 

What I expect:

Last year, the Huskies got Oklahoma State in their Big 12/Pac-10 home game. That game was an easier draw for the Dawgs, but the decisive 18-point victory was a turning point for the Dawgs, who came into the game 3-3, with only one cupcake win separating them from the big losses to Kansas and Florida.

After putting the Cowboys away, the Huskies won their next seven en route to an eventual Pac-10 title. This game feels like that one to me. I expect that if they can get it right against A&M, the Huskies will be able shake off the Texas Tech heartbreaker and the poor showing against Georgetown once and for all.

I expect a big game from one of the Husky bigs tonight, either Matthew Bryan-Amaning or Tyreese Breshers. One of those two should assert themselves against the thin Aggies frontcourt and score in double figures.

I expect a close, hard-fought game, but I also expect the Huskies to come out fighting on Tuesday night. Big win coming up for the Dawgs. I’m picking a 85-82 Husky victory.