Ask anyone around the country to describe Texas A&M Basketball, and they will undoubtedly associate Texas A&M with defense. "Stifling", is how the pundits usually choose to describe Billy Gillispie's Aggies, but looking at the last three games in conference, one wouldn't know it.
Heading into the Baylor game on 2/24, the Aggies averaged 60.69 pts allowed/game in conference play. Against Baylor, Texas, and Mizzou the Aggies allowed 87, 98, and 78 respectively.
Is this just a random coincidence? a small hiccup? or is this the beginning of an alarming trend as we head into tournament play?
I set out to see if I could find any kind of correlation between points allowed and various defensive statistics:
*note - the blue line is opposing shooting percentage (from the field)
The two stats with the most telling relationship to A&M's increase in points allowed seem to be fouls called on A&M and shots allowed.
Shots allowed seems to be the the statistic with the least variance, with exception of the marked increase between the OSU game and Baylor. This increase, followed by continued weak variance indicates a concious strategic shift between the OSU and Baylor games. Either Baylor, Texas, AND Mizzou all figured out how to shred the Aggie Defense, or Billy Gillispie is up to something. It's not obvious while watching, but it almost seems like the Aggies aren't contesting as many shots as before, almost like they're daring teams to try to beat them with their perimiter shooting, or trying to see if Acie Law and Josh Carter are feeling hot that night. I'm not going to question Coach Gillispie's strategy and methods (Billy is Lord, Amen), but playoffs in all sports are won with consistently tough defense. Let's hope we see those points allowed start to drop off in the Big XII tournament.
Fouls, Fouls, Fouls.. It's no surprise that there is a direct relationship between Aggie Fouls and Opponents Points. I'm more concerned about the refs the Aggies will face than the possible opposing teams. No team like A&M's that has the true potential to reach the final four, should ever be concerned with the officiating, but Acie Law IV can only do so much when his Jones, AK, Kirk, and Carter are on the bench.
Hopefully this weekend's tournament will put all of these issues to rest.