Texas A&M Basketball Hits the National Stage With Full Force

Jeff ShullAnalyst INovember 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 21:  Donald Sloan #15 of the Texas A&M Aggies looks on during the game against the Connecticut Huskies during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Wachovia Center on March 21, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Huskies defeated the Aggies 92-66. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Texas A&M Basketball team has arrived. With wins over two ranked opponents this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, people will start considering the Aggies as a real opponent to Kansas and Texas for the Big 12 title.

In the 76 Classic tournament, the Ags opened up play with a convincing win over No. 19 Clemson, winning 69-60. The Aggies used defense, three point shooting, and a 15-2 late first half run to put away Clemson.

The team is playing unselfish ball and incredible team defense; something that has not lacked since Billy Gillespie coached the team.

BJ Holmes led the Aggies past the Tigers with 20 points. His leadership staved off a late second half run that saw their lead cut to two.

The Aggies are the definition of a balanced team; they have had four different leading scorers in six games. They know they can turn to a number of different players to lead them offensively in any situation.

In the semi-final game of the tournament, the Aggies faced No. 8 West Virginia and lost 73-66. They fell short defensively due to the absence of All-Big 12 defender Derrick Roland for most of the game due to injury.

The game was close for most of the game before a 12-1 Mountaineer second half run with the scored tied at 44. The Aggies refused to quit. They fought back from an 11 point deficit to cut it to four with 1:08 left. After a free throw, A&M got the ball back down five with a chance to stay in the game.

However, Donald Sloan gave the game away by allowing Devin Ebanks to steal the ball from him and go down for a slam dunk and a foul. He made the free throw to end any hope of an Aggie run. Just for good measure, he did the exact same thing to Sloan their next possession.

Although they were without their defensive stud, they still managed to give a top 10 team all they could handle. How would they come off a tough loss, you might ask?

The Aggies responded by beating No. 16 Minnesota in the third place game.

Derrick Roland was back and healthy as ever. He turned in 19 points to go along with his usual dominance in perimeter defense.

Even though the Aggies got the victory, the late turnovers and poor free throw shooting almost gave the game away. 50 free throws per player at the next practice would do the team some good; just ask Memphis fans.

The Aggies had a 66-59 lead with just over a minute to play, but allowed the Golden Gophers within one and a chance to win the game with 19.4 seconds left. Bryan Davis saved the game, blocking Paul Carter's shot with around five seconds to play.

A&M has arrived, whether you like it or not.