We know Thanksgiving is synonymous with football, but the fact is a big college hoops outcome with Selection Sunday implications just happened on Turkey Day.
Texas A&M, the 25th-ranked team in the country, upset No. 10 Gonzaga in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis after the Zags failed to get off a good shot in the closing seconds. A&M heads on to the event’s title game thanks to its 62-61 win, and in doing so, proves/reminds everyone it is among the best the SEC has to boast about this season.
Figure it this way:
That’s probably the top three in the SEC for 2015-16. I know, it’s an unusual arrangement at the top of the league, but A&M has a lot of experience, really nice guards, terrific athletes and the offense/defense blend to keep them pretty good most of the season. Getting a win like this is program-proving and season-affirming for Billy Kennedy, who’s in year No. 5 with the Aggies but still in search of his first NCAA Tournament showing with the team.
Thursday’s win was equal parts impressive and odd considering A&M did not make a field goal for the final 8:27 of regulation. That is stunning. To beat Gonzaga, one of the better offensive teams in the sport, by not putting the ball in the hoop save on foul shots during that stretch is striking.
It helped how the Zags were hurt by Domantas Sabonis fouling out; the future NBAer had one of the worst games of his career on Thursday. And on the last play, Gonzaga wasn’t able to get the ball to Kyle Wiltjer; a fallaway shot by Kyle Draginis fell wrong. Wiltjer, CBS Sports’ preseason National Player of the Year selectee, had 18 points, seven rebounds but also coughed up four turnovers. The Bulldogs lose their first game of the season.
A&M, which was led by Danuel House’s 19 points, is now 6-0. If it wins on Friday against the UConn-Syracuse winner, the 7-0 start will mark the best at the beginning of a season for Texas A&M basketball since 2007.