Since Texas A&M announced on November 11 that forward Khris Middleton would miss 3-4 weeks with a partially torn meniscus, we’ve had to reserve judgment on the Aggies.
It’s not that A&M has been bad; the Aggies are 6-1 with the lone loss coming in New York City against Mississippi State. They don’t have any wins of note, however, with the best victory coming at St. John’s.
Middleton could return as soon as tonight, when Texas A&M plays host to Sam Houston State. If not, he will come back this weekend against Louisiana-Monroe. Either way, Middleton will certainly be back in time for next Saturday’s game against Florida.
Texas A&M is a different team with him in the fold.
He’s easily the Aggies’ best offensive player, leading the team in scoring last season at 14.4 points per game. He can score in different ways, capable of getting points around the rim or stepping out and knocking down 3-pointers. He’s a good rebounder and can also get teammates involved. Moreover, Middleton is able to create his own shot and either score or get fouled.
The offense this season has not been overly efficient for the Aggies. Ray Turner and David Loubeau are good around the rim, and Elston Turner has a reputation as an effective 3-point shooter. At the point, Dash Harris has been forced to take a few more shots than usual, which is probably not a good thing for A&M.
The Aggies have been fairly one-dimensional. Nearly 67 percent of their points come from inside the arc, with A&M struggling from 3-point range and not getting to the foul line consistently. A lot of their points come off second-chance opportunities or in transition – there are not enough players who can get their own shots off, leading to somewhat stagnant offense in the half-court.
With Middleton in the mix, though, the offense takes on a new dimension. He will open up the perimeter for shots from Turner, and he will also create more shots from Turner and Loubeau for easy baskets at the rim. With Middleton scoring in different ways and freshman point guard Jamal Branch getting more burn at the point, the Aggies will be more dynamic on the offensive end.
A&M has plenty of solid role players, but Middleton is a go-to-guy and a difference maker.
When you combine that with Texas A&M’s lockdown defense under Billy Kennedy this season, the Aggies have a chance to contend for the Big 12 title.
Photo: US Presswire