Auburn (13-15) at Texas A&M (17-13)
03/08/2014 7:47 AM
03/08/2014 8:33 AM
GAME NOTES: The SEC regular-season comes to an end on Saturday afternoon when the Texas A&M Aggies welcome the Auburn Tigers to Reed Arena.
Auburn has struggled this season at 13-15 and 5-12 in the SEC, and it has been sliding as the year comes to a close with losses in four of its last five games. The Tigers hosted Tennessee on Wednesday night and were blown out of their own gym, 82-54.
Texas A&M has also been on the downswing of late with losses in two of its last three, most recently falling to 17-13 and 8-9 in the league on Wednesday after it coughed up a double-digit second half lead to lose at Missouri, 57-56. The Aggies have enjoyed great success at home this season, winning 16 of 18 at Reed Arena.
The Aggies lead the all-time series with the Tigers, 5-2, which includes a win in the first round of last season's SEC Tournament, 71-65.
The Tigers were never a factor in their most recent contest, as they found themselves down 10-0 less than four minutes in before eventually losing by 28. They shot only 37 percent from the field on the evening, compared to 49.1 percent for Tennessee, and they also lost possessions by getting outrebounded by a dominating 44-24 margin. Tahj Shamsid-Deen was hot despite the setback, shooting 5-of-8 from 3-point range for 17 points, while KT Harrell and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum netted 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Their matchup earlier in the week aside, Auburn usually doesn't have much trouble scoring points this season, as they put up 72.1 ppg on 43.8 percent field goal shooting, but its problem has come in allowing nearly the same production on the opposite end of the court (.431, 72.0 ppg). Chris Denson is the SEC's second-leading scorer with 19.3 ppg, although he's scored less than that average in four of the last five games and is a woeful 3-of-25 from the field in the last two. Harrell is a strong second option with 18.4 ppg, while Shamsid-Deen brings 9.8 ppg to the mix.
The Aggies held an 11-point lead with less than 15 minutes to play in their latest game but slowly saw that advantage slip away down the stretch before Missouri won on a pair of free throws with just seven seconds remaining. Although they outshout Mizzou from the field, 44 percent to 34 percent, they were outscored from the foul line, 24-7, and outrebounded, 39-24. Jamal Jones paced the losing effort with 16 points but he did so on only 6-of-16 shooting from the floor. Alex Caruso tallied 13 points, five steals and four assists, while Kourtney Roberson narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Texas A&M has remained competitive this season thanks mostly to its outstanding defense, as it holds opposing teams to just 39.9 percent shooting from the field and 62.3 ppg, but it has been hampered by an offensive attack (.429, 64.6 ppg) that ranks as the SEC's worst. Jones leads the way with 13.0 ppg but oftentimes hurts the squad more than he helps with a poor field goal percentage (.370). Roberson (9.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Caruso (8.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) are also important pieces to the modest attack.
While both teams have experienced its share of inconsistencies this season, Texas A&M has been excellent on its home floor and should be able to close out its building for the campaign with a strong effort.
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