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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Basketball teams push forward after losses

 
 

Looking at the Big 12 conference standings, it’s easy to see Texas A&M on the bottom and believe the Aggies are destined for another disappointing season.
But what is not seen just by looking at the standings is that A&M (7-8, 0-4 Big 12) is playing some of the best basketball in the league.
In their four losses in conference play, the Aggies have been in the position to win all of them. Three of those games came against three of the better teams in the nation, No. 12 Kansas, No. 13 Texas Tech and Missouri.
In past years, the Aggies would still be winless after that slate, but they would never have been close.
“It could be something as simple as one ball bouncing our way, or one rebound bouncing our way,” said A&M coach Melvin Watkins. “We sit here and look at our tapes, and with a play here or there we could be 4-0.
That’s how close it’s been for us. They’re going to get a win in conference, they’re working too hard for it.”
The Aggies’ schedule doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State (11-4, 2-2) Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
The Cyclones are coming off a hard 63-59 loss in Waco to Baylor University, but Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the country.
“I think we have tremendous fans,” said Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan. “Our fans create an atmosphere where it is difficult for other teams to play. I think we have a great home-court advantage.”
Iowa State boasts two prominent players in senior forward Jackson Vroman and junior center Jared Homan. Vroman is averaging 13.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while Homan is averaging 12.1 points and 6.7 rebounds.
A&M senior center Andy Slocum will be charged with defending the low post again, something he has done successfully thus far.
“Andy Slocum is having his best year of his career,” Watkins said. “Other coaches are saying he’s a handful to try to handle.”
The 7-foot tall Slocum has had to handle big posts before this season. In the Aggies’ 65-59 loss to Kansas, Slocum held the Jayhawk’s Wayne Simien and Jeff Graves well below their averages. Graves didn’t get a single rebound against Slocum.
But holding big men down and winning small moral victories against prominent teams are not what this Aggie ball club is after. A&M is after wins.
“The last four games have been real close,” Slocum said. “I think we’re going to turn it around with a winning streak soon.”
The last time A&M met Iowa State was in the first round of last season’s Big 12 Tournament in Dallas. Iowa State blew out the Aggies in an upset 97-70 win to propel them into the National Invitation Tournament.
This year the Aggies are hoping that a win over Iowa State can propel them into the win column and get over the hump.
“You start to see where teams are going to find their nitch (niche),”
Watkins said. “Our kids feel like we’re going to make a run for this thing.
We’re going to be in the middle of it. The fact that we got off to a slow start doesn’t mean we’re going to finish up that way.”

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