Tonight’s slate of games in the Big 12 is light, but two of the conference’s ranked teams are in action.
#18 Texas A&M gets a nice early season test against Mississippi State in Madison Square Garden. The SEC looks like it could be one of the strongest conferences this season but has taken some lumps early on. The Bulldogs are one of the guilty parties, as they dropped a game at home to Akron.
It probably sounds worse than it is because Akron is coming off a 23-win season and funny things happen early in the season when teams are still growing. Akron also had a well-regarded 7-footer in Zeke Marshall who had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 5 blocks in that game, and you don’t see players like that too often.
But nonetheless this should be the best team the Aggies play besides Florida and whomever else they play in New York before the season starts. Point guard Dee Bost is the Bulldogs leader, but he’s not the greatest shooter and turns the ball over a bit much. Mississippi State does have some big bodies in Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney, and it such be fun to watch them match up with A&M’s frontcourt.
For the Aggies, Ray Turner has been remarkably efficient the first two games, making 18 out of 22 shots he’s taken. We’ll see how he and the rest of the team continue to adapt to not having Khris Middleton. These two schools with extremely similar colors should get used to playing each other as they’ll be in the same conference next season.
Niagara visits Columbia this evening to take on #25 Missouri. Presumptively the Tigers are more talented, but these non-conference fodder teams could create issues for Frank Haith if they have some size. Unfortunately for Niagara they have only one player over 6’8”. The Purple Eagles are also very young, with only one senior on the roster and the majority of their scoring coming from freshman or sophomores in their only game so far.
Tonight I’ll be watching for consistent play from Kim English and Phil Pressey, who I am refusing to call Flip until I read something that says he actually likes being called that. English is off to a good start, but at times it looks like he still thinks he can do more than he should be doing. All English needs to do to be a fine contributor is give effort on defense, space the floor and wait for the drive and dish opportunities that’ll come via Pressey/Dixon/Denmon.