Texas A&M played its first 10 games at home last year, winning each one en route to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1987.
The 12th-ranked Aggies (1-0) hope to get off to another fast start as they continue their season-opening seven-game homestand against Lamar (1-0) in the Shelby Metcalf Classic on Friday.
Texas A&M is hosting this event named after a former Aggies coach this weekend, a round-robin exempted tournament in which it will play three games in as many days. The three games only count as one in their schedule, allowing the Aggies to play the two extra games under NCAA rules.
“What we were going to be able to do is that not too many people really understood that you could have an exempted tournament as they used to be considered to where you play three or four games and you only get counted against for one,” Aggies coach Billy Gillispie said. “Not too many people have had them on their own campus. There’s a rule in the NCAA rulebook that allows you to do that. You just have to fill out the proper paperwork.”
The Aggies are using the homestand to get ready for matchups with Final Four participants No. 6 UCLA and No. 7 LSU in December. They will face Louisiana Tech on Saturday and Saint Louis on Sunday.
“We are facing three teams and all three of them could beat us,” Gillispie said. “They all are very, very hungry. Lamar’s got a new coach and they got a pro who’s really good and they’ve got about nine guards that they’re playing who are really fast and they’re playing extremely hard.”
Gillispie’s biggest concern, literally, on Friday is 7-foot-1 Lamar center James Davis. The 335-pound junior scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and had seven rebounds in the Cardinals’ season-opening 72-64 victory over Texas Southern on Saturday.
“They had a great recruiting class that’s bolstered by James Davis, who’s an NBA first-round draft choice in my opinion,” Gillispie said. “He’s a guy that we recruited at Illinois, he’s a guy that signed at Minnesota at one time. He’s a really good player.”
The Aggies opened their season as a ranked team for the first time since 1980 last Friday and beat Prairie View A&M 81-49. Joseph Jones and Antanas Kavaliauskas each scored 16 points to lead Texas A&M, which won its home opener for the seventh straight year.
Despite the win, the Texas A&M guards did not play well. The starting backcourt of Acie Law and Dominique Kirk combined to go 3-of-17 from the field for 11 points.
The bright spot was Jones, who missed part of the preseason with tendinitis and was 5-of-8 in 25 minutes.
Texas A&M and Lamar have split 14 meetings, with the Aggies winning five straight at home.