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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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Jackson leads improving A&M offense

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Photo by By Angelina Alcantar

Quenton Jackson runs across the court. 

Texas A&M men’s basketball is looking to extend its two-game win streak against Mississippi State at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
A&M is 13-12 overall and 7-6 in conference play. Mississippi State is currently 17-9 on the season and 8-5 against SEC opponents; the Bulldogs are also on a two-game winning streak.
In their last game against Alabama, A&M overcame a six-point halftime deficit to earn the road victory and secure their first two-game winning streak since early January.
A&M coach Buzz Williams said the team’s tenacity to finish games comes from people constantly doubting them.
“I think our team has, to some degree, gotten tired of everybody saying we’re not good,” said Willliams. “It’s kinda like that dog in the neighborhood that’s chained up. If you walk up and keep messing with that dog, eventually the chain on that dog is gonna snap. I have a good seat to watch the care that those kids have for one another, which is very evident.”
The Aggies’ leading scorer on the season is senior forward Josh Nebo. In conference play, Nebo is averaging 11.5 points per game on 67 percent shooting from the floor. The next two leading scorers are senior guard Wendell Mitchell and junior guard Quenton Jackson.
In conference play, Mitchell is averaging 9.9 points per game, however, in six of the last seven games, Mitchell has scored double-digit points. Over his last seven games, Mitchell has averaged 10.8 points per game shooting 35 percent from the floor (five percent higher than normal) and 31 percent from the arc (six percent higher than normal).
Jackson is averaging nine points per game shooting 38 percent from the floor and 29 percent from the three-point line in conference. In four of the last five games, Jackson has hit the double-digit mark and is averaging 13.8 points per game in that span. Jackson’s best game came against Alabama where he scored 20 points and shot 13-of-14 from the free throw line.
Jackson said he has grown more comfortable over the last couple of games, which has helped him adjust to the competition of the SEC.
“I feel very different, a lot more comfortable,” said Jackson. “I have been adjusting to the game and the physicality of [SEC opponents]. I have figured out how hard I have to play to be successful. The confidence of my teammates and the coaching staff is helping me as well.”
A big reason for the Aggies’ recent stretch of success has been their improved efficiency on the offensive end. Through conference play, the Aggies have shot a combined 39 percent from the floor, 28 percent from the three-point line and 69 percent from the free throw line. In their last two games, the Aggies have converted 45 percent of their total field goal attempts, 38 percent of their three-point attempts and 80 percent of their free throw attempts.
While this type of production isn’t always sustainable, the Aggies will need to maintain it against a Mississippi State team that can score at will. The Bulldogs are converting 46 percent of their field goal attempts and 33 percent of their three-point attempts this season.
The Bulldogs are led by sophomore forward Reggie Perry. Perry is averaging 20.8 points per game in conference play on an efficient 52 percent from the field and 35 percent from the three-point line. The Bulldogs’ next leading scorer is junior guard Nick Weatherspoon, who is averaging 12.5 points per game in conference play, shooting 43.7 percent from the floor.
Guards Tyson Carter and Robert Woodard are also averaging double-digit points for the Bulldogs in conference play, averaging 11.8 and 10.4 points per game respectively.
While the Aggies will be challenged defensively by this talent Mississippi State offense, their biggest challenge will come on the rebounding end. Forwards Josh Nebo and Emanuel Miller will be tasked with keeping as many offensive rebounds away from Perry and Woodard as possible.
In conference play, Perry is averaging 10.2 total rebounds per game and three offensive rebounds per game. Woodard is averaging 6.8 rebounds per game and 2 offensive rebounds per game. As a team, Mississippi State is averaging 38.3 total rebounds per game and are only allowing 30.3 rebounds per game in conference play. Conversely, A&M is grabbing 34.9 total rebounds per game and allowing 34.8 per game in conference play. After allowing 25 total second chance points in their previous two wins, their effort on the boards will dictate how many second chance points a good offensive rebounding team in Mississippi state will have.
For A&M to succeed, they need to keep Mississippi State off of the glass, Williams said.
“They’re second in the league in defensive rebound percentage and third in the league and offensive rebounding percentage,” Williams said. “I haven’t studied all of their numbers through 13 games, but of their eight wins categorically speaking, [rebounding] is a big part of their success. In order for us to have a chance, we’re not going to be able to allow them to get their normal percentages on both sides of the ball on the grass. We’ll have to play with a very, almost elite and perfect, competitive spirit and that will be prior to the release of the shot. The real game will start on the rise of the shot from what I’ve studied.”
The Aggies will host the Bulldogs at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Reed Arena. The game will be streamed on WatchESPN.

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