Show Me My Opponent: Texas A&M

LINEUP NOTES

Texas A&M:

  • Unsurprisingly, the poor start to the season has forced Williams to go into lineup search mode; he’s tried eight different starting lineups. For SEC play, though, he’s settled on the following the whole way through: Gordon, Mitchell, Flagg, Miller, Nebo.
  • Ten players play every night, but only two – Chandler and Jackson – have grabbed double-digit minutes in every SEC game. The others have bounced anywhere from 1 to 14 minutes.
  • I can’t name a way to make their crunch-time lineup suck any less…but if forced, I *think* I’d roll with something like Gordon, Chandler, Jackson, Flagg, Nebo. Mitchell is bad, Miller can’t shoot at all.

Tennessee:

  • Vescovi, Bowden, JJJ, Pons, Fulkerson, not sure if that’ll change at all anytime soon. Only replacement I could imagine would be Jalen Johnson over JJJ, but that shouldn’t happen.
  • Both Nkamhoua and Plavsic had played double-digit minutes off the bench since Plavsic became eligible until Kansas, when they combined for 12 total minutes. Obviously, playing Texas A&M is a little different than playing Kansas. I’d be surprised if Tennessee doesn’t have a pretty regular eight-man rotation in this one, with potential extended time (read: 5-10 minutes) for Gaines and Pember.

KEY MATCHUPS

John Fulkerson vs. Josh Nebo. Something that’s important: Fulkerson didn’t win the Azubuike matchup on Saturday, really; Azubuike still went for 18 & 11 in 27 minutes. But Fulkerson forced Azubuike’s second foul at 10:46 of the first half, which led to a Tennessee 18-8 run when Azubuike was off the floor. Was Fulkerson perfect? Obviously not, with four turnovers. But he went for 15 points and 12 rebounds, seven of them offensive, against maybe the best team and best seven-footer in college basketball. He’s a good player. He should win this matchup.

Josiah Jordan-James/Yves Pons vs. Savion Flagg. Pons finally had the true breakout game we’ve all been waiting for on Saturday; he really does have NBA potential. Meanwhile, JJJ was horrendous, but his horrid game came after about a six-game run of really solid, pretty good basketball. I can accept one bad game for five good ones, certainly. He’ll rebound.

PREDICTION

Tennessee 64, Texas A&M 50. 

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