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The Battalion

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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Home Remedy: Texas A&M aims to stop turnover bleeding against Arkansas

Center+Tyler+Davis+leads+the+Aggies+in+scoring+and+rebounding+so+far+this+season.
Photo by Photo by Rachel Grant

Center Tyler Davis leads the Aggies in scoring and rebounding so far this season.

Texas A&M will aim to get back in the win column Tuesday night when they host Arkansas at 6 p.m. The Aggies, however, need to solve their turnover issues before taking on the aggressive Razorback defensive attack.

Stop the bleeding:

It’s no secret that turnovers have plagued A&M in its past five games, which has led to an aggravating 1-4 start in conference play for the Aggies.

In SEC action, A&M has committed 103 turnovers (20.6 per game), including 72 in three road matches (24 per game).

“It’s just a lot of little things that we’re doing [wrong],” sophomore center Tyler Davis said. “I think we see the big picture, but we just need to take a step back as a team and still look at those little things.”

The team’s troubles may root in their game preparation, which senior guard J.C. Hampton said have not been up to standard lately.

“It starts here in practice,” Hampton added. “We’ve been a little lazy and undisciplined. Just making it start in practice. We’re really inconsistent and we know that.”

While ball security has been a focal point in practice, hopefully their improvement will soon translate onto the court.

“We’ve got to get to where we take care of the ball. I can’t emphasize it enough,” A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. “Our guys know we’ve got to be able to do that and I think we’ll be able to – hopefully sooner than later.”

Hampton said he believes the team’s struggles stem some from his mistakes as a point guard, adding that he needs to improve individually which he hopes affect the rest of his teammates.

“I put most of the responsibility on me because as a point guard, it starts with me. It’s led on throughout the post and the wing,” Hampton said. “If I take care of the ball, hopefully it goes on through the rest of our team.”

Kennedy, however, said the Aggies’ turnover problems go beyond their signal-caller, noting that their go-to players need to sharpen up in order to get the rest of the team back on track.

“D.J. and Tyler are averaging 11, 12 turnovers a game between the two of them – two of our best players,” Kennedy said. “Your best players got to play well, your role players have to play solid. We haven’t had that combination consistently.”

Home Remedy:

The last time A&M played in its friendly confines of Reed Arena, the Aggies walked away with a 30-point dismantling win over LSU. Now that A&M returns home Tuesday night against Arkansas (13-4, 2-3 SEC) in a similar position they were in last Wednesday against the Tigers, maybe they will find something they need again: a home remedy.

“It’s always good playing at home, especially in conference,” Hampton added. “We get more momentum, we feel better at home.”

The Razorbacks, however, pose a pressure-driven defensive attack that will force the Aggies to figure out how to balance limiting their ball security weakness with staying competitive against bruising Arkansas.

“This is going to be the ultimate turnover test,” Kennedy said. “They’re going to pressure us, and can we take care of the ball? Can we win and still turn the ball over some? That’s going to be the question: can we handle that pressure?”

While Arkansas will attempt to wreak havoc in the backcourt, it is key A&M matches the Razorbacks’ defensive intensity themselves.

“We’ve got to attack them, too. We can’t just play back to their pressure, let them corral us, and let them force us to do what they want to do,” Davis added. “We’ve got to handle our business and go out there as well. That’s how we can get the pressure off of us.”

Led by 6-foot-10 senior forward Moses Kingsley – who averages 11.6 points per game and leads the SEC in blocks – the Razorbacks will also be one of the most experienced teams the Aggies will have faced.

“It’s an older team,” Kennedy said. “They’re deep and they play with a lot of energy on the defensive end of the floor.”

NCAA Tournament hopes slipping away:

Sitting at 9-7 overall, A&M has some work to do in order to earn a coveted NCAA Tournament bid. The burning desire to make the Field of 64 come March, however, remains.

“I know we all want to play in the tournament,” Davis said. “I want to win. I still want to win a conference championship if we can. I don’t see it as anything as not being possible right now.”

Although there is a lot of work to do, that does not keep Kennedy from discussing their goal with more than half of conference play remaining. If the Aggies want to make the Big Dance though, the answer to getting there is simple: win games.

“We talk about that, but we’ve got to get on our horse and start winning some games,” Kennedy added. “We’re worried about trying to get better right now. That’ll take care of itself if we do what we’re supposed to do.”

Before the Aggies can look too far ahead, they must stay focused with the task at hand, which begins with Arkansas Tuesday night.
“It’s one game at a time, that’s all it is for me,” Davis concluded. “We’ve got Arkansas tomorrow and we’ve just got to handle business one game at a time.”

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