All things considered, we may not see a more impressive performance during non-conference play than what No. 25 Texas A&M did to No. 11 West Virginia in Friday night’s season-opener in Germany.
Down 23-10 just 11 minutes into the game and playing without their four starters – including their starting point guard and star big man Robert Wiliams due to suspensions – the Aggies proceeded to run Press Virginia off of Ramstein Air Base, outscoring them 78-42 over the final 29 minutes to head back to College Station with a 88-65 win.
If we’re being fair here, West Virginia was not at full strength for this game, either. They were playing without Esa Ahmad, their second-best player this season, and trying to integrate a number of new players into larger roles. But that doesn’t change the fact that a team that had major question marks at the point before the suspension of J.J. Caldwell had no issues with West Virginia’s press.
Tyler Davis led the way for the Aggies with 23 points and 13 boards while Admon Gilder chipped in with 23 points, nine boards and seven assists while D.J. Hogg went for 19. The difference here was probably pretty simple: West Virginia just could not score, and that meant that they weren’t able to get into their press. The Aggies turned the ball over just 18 times – less than 25 percent of their possessions, a fairly low number considering the opponent and the situation – and held the Mountaineers to just 10 offensive rebounds. Second-chance points and ‘pick-six’ transition opportunities are the difference-makers for West Virginia, and Billy Kennedy’s club were able to take those away.
At the end of the day, I’m going to try to avoid reading too much into this result. I was high on Texas A&M coming into the season – I picked them to win the SEC – and the Mountaineers are a team that thrives on energy, something that can be sapped when traveling to Europe from Morgantown.
That’s going to be hard to do.
If we were looking for a statement performance from the weekend, we just got it.