Texas A&M remained in the AP poll this week despite losing its last game. It surely won’t stay in the Top 25 if it was upset by this opponent.
The No. 23 Aggies host The Citadel on Saturday, looking to win their 49th consecutive home game against a non-conference foe.
Texas A&M (8-2) had its four-game winning streak snapped with an 84-81 defeat to New Mexico in Houston last Saturday.
The Aggies dropped seven spots in the AP poll while the unbeaten Lobos moved into the Top 25, meaning both of Texas A&M’s defeats have come against teams currently ranked. The Aggies lost 73-66 to current-No. 6 West Virginia on Nov. 27.
The Citadel (6-5) is nowhere near the rankings and is 0-34 all-time against the Top 25.
Texas A&M will likely be focused on improving its defense after giving up its most points of the season against New Mexico and allowing an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent for the second time in 10 games.
Donald Sloan scored a career-high 29 points, but the Aggies trailed for the entire game and a late comeback attempt came up short.
“We were about as bad as we could be for about 28 minutes and then we decided to play,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “We showed a little heart, a little effort down the stretch, we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Getting more effective minutes from Derrick Roland would especially help. The team’s second-leading scorer and best defender fouled out last Saturday after going scoreless in 14 minutes. Roland also was limited by foul trouble in the loss to the Mountaineers.
“We’ve lost two games and he’s sat next to me on both of them,” Turgeon said. “It shows you how important he is. He gives us something with toughness that when he’s out we don’t have.”
This has been the longest break Turgeon and the Aggies have had between opponents this season and they are looking to take full advantage of the extra rest, especially having played a stretch of six games in 12 days that ended Dec. 7. However, they must go back on the road to face No. 24 Washington on Tuesday.
That’s the only road game in the next five for the Aggies, who have won 48 straight non-conference games at home since falling 58-51 to St. Joseph’s on March 23, 2005.
Facing The Citadel (6-5) will likely provide an easy opportunity for Turgeon’s team to bounce back from its recent loss. The Bulldogs lost by a combined 32 points in two games this season against ranked teams—West Virginia and Michigan State.
Their 3-point shooting kept them relatively competitive in each of those losses, having been within single digits in the second half of both, partly because they finished a combined 21 of 36 from beyond the arc. However, The Citadel was 2 of 19 from 3-point range Wednesday in a 61-47 exhibition victory over Allen.
It was the Bulldogs’ first game since losing 69-56 to then-No. 12 Michigan State on Dec. 7.
Cameron Wells scored 16 points Wednesday and he leads the team with 17.3 per game.
The Citadel beat Texas A&M in the only previous meeting, 62-61 during the 1970-71 season.