Bama Hoops Hype

Alabama Preparing For A Different Texas A&M Team

Alicia Devine - Bama Hoops Hype

In late December, Alabama was coming off its worst performance of the season and was staring down one of the SEC favorites to open conference play. The Crimson Tide was sitting at 8-4 on the season and was about to play host to the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies. The visitors were to be without both of their starting guards and it showed once the game got underway.

Alabama dominated Texas A&M from start to finish and won its SEC opener 79-57. Four different players scored in double figures for the Crimson Tide, led by an 18-point performance by John Petty. Alabama held the Aggies to a season low in points on a season-low shooting percentage.

Now, the two teams meet again in the regular season finale in not-so-different circumstances. Alabama is struggling right now and is coming off another ugly performance while the Aggies have got a decent bit of momentum going after winning back-to-back road games.

Texas A&M has been back to full strength for a while and the team is starting to play up to its preseason expectations. Billy Kennedy’s team has won eight of their last 12 conference games and have a chance to move into the top half of the SEC for the first time this season.

D.J. Hogg and Admon Gilder will be looking to make up for missing the first meeting with Alabama while the rest of the team might have a sense of revenge. Those two guards have combined for 21.1 points and 4.5 assists per game in conference play this season.

“They bring a different twist to the team,” Avery Johnson Jr. said in Friday’s press conference. “D.J. hits a lot of shots and Admon is a primary ball handler who can hit shots and create.”

Over the last five weeks, Texas A&M has been using a new starting lineup that has performed very well together. The two guards mentioned above start alongside T.J.Starks – averaging 11.3 points per game in SEC play – and two of the best big men in the conference.

Alabama fans should be familiar with Robert Williams and Tyler Davis because they were really the only consistent source of offense in the first meeting with the Aggies. The two forwards combined for 28 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Davis is the type of player that can stretch the floor at times but gets most of his work done inside the post. Williams plays similarly to Donta Hall, using his athleticism to slash and dunk on offense while playing elite defense.

Alabama head coach Avery Johnson has used a lineup with two big men before but playing against the Aggies is not a simple matchup.

“We’ll mix it up. Braxton played the four against them last time, we played two bigs in certain stretches,” Johnson said on Friday. “Whatever it takes to help us get off this losing streak.”

The Crimson Tide’s defense was the key to the blowout win over Texas A&M in December but it will certainly be a tougher task this time around. Alabama will need to keep its focus on protecting the paint but that could open up shots on the perimeter for the Aggie guards.

Using the same game plan that you used in a 22-point win might seem like the right thing to do but one thing is certain: Alabama has not faced THIS Texas A&M team yet. And with an NCAA Tournament berth possibly on the line, the Crimson Tide will have to put together another strong performance to bring down the Aggies in College Station.

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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