Texas A&M hopes to avoid looking ahead to a critical three-day stretch when it tries to extend its 19-game home winning streak Wednesday against struggling Iowa State.
The 10th-ranked Aggies (17-3, 5-1 Big 12) are tied with No. 22 Texas in the conference race and can pull into a tie for first place with No. 6 Kansas, which is 6-1.
Texas A&M faces both teams in nationally televised games in a three-day span beginning with Saturday’s trip to Kansas. The Aggies host the Longhorns on Tuesday.
Before it can worry about those games, Texas A&M is trying to stay concentrated on handing Iowa State (11-9, 2-4) a fifth straight loss.
“Our focus is all on Iowa State,” Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie said. “We can talk about Saturday and all that kind of stuff, (but) we’re going to be in big trouble because we’re facing a really good opponent on our home court.”
The Aggies extended their home streak with a 70-61 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday to bounce back from their first Big 12 defeat of the season. They lost 70-68 at Texas Tech last Wednesday.
Texas A&M, which hasn’t lost at home since falling to Kansas on Jan. 25 of last season, has held opponents to an average of 58.3 points and 37.2 percent from the field in three Big 12 home games.
Acie Law scored 12 of his 19 points in the final four minutes Saturday to seal the victory for Texas A&M.
Gillispie said after the game he wished Law, who averages 16.6 points, would be more aggressive and break out for a 34-point performance. The senior guard has not scored more than 26 in a game this season.
The coach backed off those comments two days later.
“I’m really, totally content with Acie,” Gillispie said Monday. “I think he’ll have that game where he makes 34 before too long and I’d like to see him (be) dominant.”
The Aggies had 18 assists on Saturday, a season high in a Big 12 game. Post players Joseph Jones and Antanas Kavaliauskas combined for only three and Gillispie wants to see that number improve.
“I don’t think we’ve been very good at it,” said Gillispie about playing inside-out. “I think they’ve connected on the passes, but I don’t think we’ve gotten the ball inside and then thrown it to the weak side enough.”
The Cyclones are suffering through their longest losing streak of the season after falling 62-50 at then-No. 13 Oklahoma State on Saturday. They shot a season-low 32.2 percent and finished with their fewest points of the season.
Despite the recent problems, Iowa State assistant coach Jeff Rutter believes the team is headed in the right direction.
“I think really from day one the goal for this year far more than wins and losses would be to make continued progress,” Rutter said. “And we’re really seeing that with our group.”
Freshman forward Wesley Johnson has fouled out in back-to-back nine-point performances, making just 7-of-25 from the field in that span. Johnson is second in the Big 12 with 10 double-doubles this season.
The Aggies lead the conference in shooting at 51.0 percent while the Cyclones are second-to-last at 41.4. Iowa State is averaging a conference-low 12.0 assists per game.
Law and Jones each scored 17 points in an 86-81 overtime victory at Iowa State last season—the Aggies’ fourth victory in the last six meetings.