January 27, 2010

Shooting woes sting Aggies in Big 12 play

Texas A&M entered the Big 12 conference season as one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the league, and with the loss of Derrick Roland to injury the Aggies needed long-range shooting to overcome the loss of a player who could create his own offense off the dribble. But the long distance shooting has left the Aggies' game, which makes their 3-2 start in the Big 12 even more remarkable.

In the end, the Aggies (14-5, 3-2 Big 12) are finding a way to win. Of their two losses only the one at Kansas State was a poor performance. A&M nearly knocked off then-No. 1 Texas in Austin before falling in overtime. In A&M's 67-63 win over Colorado Saturday the Aggies hit just two of 23 3-point attempts.

"They came in and game-planned to go zone the other day and it worked for them," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "But the bottom line is we still figured out a way to score more points than they did and Colorado is a pretty good basketball team. It's frustrating and it's frustrating for everybody."

The Aggies entered the Big 12 season shooting 37-percent from 3-point range as a team, but in conference play A&M is hitting just 18.1-percent. Sharpshooter B.J. Holmes has gone ice cold from the perimeter, hitting just four of 28 3-point attempts, while Donald Sloan has seen his percentage dip from 44.8-percent to 35.4-percent since the start of Big 12 games. He's hit just two of 17 attempts in five league games.

Junior Nathan Walkup has shot just 11.1-percent from the 3-point arc in league play while Dash Harris has hit just two of 10. The one bright spot, sort of, is Khris Middleton who is 5-15 from 3-point range in league play after shooting a dismal 18.9-percent in non-conference games.

"It's probably that they're just not falling," Sloan said. "Coach Turgeon has said a couple times to keep the follow through up, but they're just going in and out. A lot of misses have hit every part of the rim before it decides to go out. We just need to keep doing what we're doing and shoot extra and that's about all."

But don't expect the team's confidence to wane during the recent slump, and Turgeon's confidence isn't going anywhere either. In fact, Turgeon likes what he's seeing from his team on the offensive end other than the obvious - actually seeing the shots tickle the twine.

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