Texas A&M vs. MSU Preview: Marooning it up at the Hump

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Intense maroon-on-maroon action is coming your way Saturday.

So, what’s the deal?

Texas A&M, at the Hump, Saturday at 12:30 (CST)

Is it on TV?

Maybe. Check here for your options. Do you live in Anchorage, Alaska, and are you itching to see a random SEC basketball game while you eat breakfast? Well, for some reason, Saturday’s your lucky day.

If you’re stuck in a city not bordering the Bering Sea and your local SECTV affiliate forgot to check with you before deciding to air the alternate game (Arkansas v. Georgia), no worries. ESPN3 has you covered.

Are they any good?

Objectively? Yeah, probably not. SEC basketball once again looks to be having a bit of a down year. A&M is currently in second place in the conference with wins against Arkansas, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and no losses. The UT win was on the road and required a huge second half rally by the Aggies, so that’s something, I guess. And A&M is 12 – 4 overall, which is also solid. But their strength of schedule is second lowest in the conference—bested (?) only by MSU’s—and three of their four losses came against non-conference titans Missouri State, SMU, and North Texas, teams all currently hanging out in the middle of the standings of their respective mid-major leagues.

But within the confines of the SEC, A&M is doing some stuff well, especially on the defensive end of the floor. They’re among the top five in the conference in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense, three-point percentage defense, blocked shots, and defensive rebounding. And given that their offense is pretty pitiful—last in the SEC in scoring offense, tenth in field goal and three-point percentage offense, and thirteenth in offensive rebounds per game—I’ll venture a guess that they’re winning their games with defense.

What are State’s chances?

Notwithstanding the debacle in Tuscaloosa Wednesday evening, I think the chances of a win are fair. Not great, mind you, but fair. A&M isn't any better at shooting, rebounding, or free throws than MSU, so we shouldn't be shot out of the gym or totally demolished on the boards (any more than usual, that is). The question is going to be whether we can keep up with A&M’s defensive intensity the whole game. Some of our showings have me thinking that this is very possible. Others, like the one I watched a couple of days ago, leave me feeling less than optimistic. If the offensive execution can come close to the team's overall effort, I think we may be able to get a win.

Libations?

Noon on a Saturday in mid-January is a tough one. Seasonal ales, mulled ciders and wines, and eggnog are all nice winter choices, even after the holidays have passed. You know, spices, warmth, lemon rinds, and so on. The midday tip-off doesn't make these choices as appealing as they would be at night, though they’re still solid options for cold-weather sports.

But let’s just get to it, people—oranges are in season, and that means it’s time to get out your muddler and make an old fashioned. It’s quick, it’s easy, and mixing one makes you look like you’re good at life.

There are lots of choices for exotic bitters, pre-made simple syrups, and unusual fruit additions to liven up your cocktail, but that’s not how we roll here at FWTCT. Sugar cube, orange slice, cherry, and angostura bitters in a low-ball glass. Muddle. Fill glass with ice. Add whisky. (I usually go with Dickel, but I’ll recommend Single Barrel Evan Williams this time around. Oaky, fairly smooth, and a great buy for the price.) Gently stir. Nod with self-satisfaction.

You’re now ready to watch basketball.

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