Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:39 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Texas A&M is expected to get Khris Middleton back on Saturday.
Aggies coach Billy Kennedy told CBSSports.com on Friday afternoon that Middleton, who led the team in scoring a year ago, has been cleared to play against Louisiana-Monroe.
The 6-foot-7 Middleton injured his knee in the season-opening win against Liberty.
Texas A&M was a preseason Top 25 team that has gotten off to a 7-1 start - even without their top offensive player.
The Aggies lone loss came in New York City against Mississippi State.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 4:41 pm
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
Posted on: November 17, 2011 10:59 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Texas A&M, ranked 18th in one poll and 19th in the other, hardly looked the part of a Top 20 team on Thursday night.
There are multiple reasons.
The Aggies have been without their new head coach, Billy Kennedy, up until a week ago - and are also playing without their top player, Khris Middleton.
Is it unfair to judge this team right now?
"Yes and no," Texas A&M's Elston Turner said after the 69-60 loss to Mississippi State on Thursday night.
Turner said that with or without Middleton, who will likely miss the next couple of weeks after knee surgery, the defense must be upgraded.
"We miss him," Turner said. "And we can't wait until he comes back."
"When he does come back, you'll see a different team," he added.
Maybe one that can challenge Baylor, Kansas and Missouri for the the Big 12 title.
Realistically, freshman Jamal Branch may be the Aggies top option at the point. Starter and veteran Dash Harris struggled and was just 1-of-8 from the field with three assists and two turnovers. David Loubeau is a solid inside guy and Turner, a Washington transfer, gives the team a quality perimeter threat. There is no shortage of role guys.
But Middleton gives the Aggies a go-to guy, someone capable of going for 20 on any given night.
It's not just the absence of Middleton, who led the team in scoring last season. It's also the players trying to adapt to a new system - under a head coach that hasn't been around all that much after being diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson's Disease.
"It's going to take time," Kennedy said.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:26 pm
The personnel shakeups in college basketball over the past few weeks have been alarming. There have been freshmen declared ineligible, players suspended for rules violations or NCAA issues and now injuries are beginning to hit a few contenders as well. Several players missed games over the weekend due to injury; are they replaceable?
Khris Middleton, Texas A&M
On Friday, Texas A&M announced that leading returning scorer Khris Middleton (right) had a partially torn meniscus in his right knee and would miss 3-4 weeks. Middleton, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 14.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season, and already had six points in the opener before suffering his injury. In his place, Ray Turner has stepped up his offensive production. Turner isn’t as athletic or the inside-outside option that Middleton is, but he scored 20 points in each of the first two games and also grabbed 14 rebounds.
Jordan Green took Middleton’s place in the lineup, providing a little bit of everything at the guard position. Fortunately for Billy Kennedy, the Aggies have plenty of depth to replace Middleton for the near future. A&M does head to Florida on Dec. 17; Middleton would certainly help the Aggies’ chances in Gainesville.
Mike Marra, Louisville
Louisville continues to get hit with the injury bug. Rakeem Buckles was already out until at least mid-December while freshman Wayne Blackshear will also miss the next couple of weeks. Stephan Van Treese is also still out with an injury. The news got worse on Sunday, as Mike Marra tore his ACL and will sit out the rest of the season. Marra was a good weapon off the bench who could come in and knock down jump shots.
Heading into the season, the Cardinals were overflowing with wings. Now, sophomore Russ Smith and freshman Angel Nunez might need to play more minutes than expected, while Jared Swopshire could see some time at the three. When Blackshear does return, he will have a chance to make an impact immediately off the bench.
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
With Festus Ezeli, it’s a matter of suspension and injury. He was suspended for the first six games of the season, but then sprained his MCL and PCL and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Vanderbilt clearly misses its best inside player, as the Commodores looked stagnant offensively and lost to Cleveland State on Sunday, 71-58. The 6-foot-11 Ezeli averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 boards last season, and the Commodores are having a tough time replacing him.
Steve Tchiengang took Ezeli’s place in the lineup, and he has totaled nine points and 12 rebounds in two games. He’s a physical presence on the glass, but he lacks offensive ability. Jeffery Taylor is more of a perimeter threat, while Lance Goulbourne is not one to do much with his back to the basket. The only other frontcourt option is Rod Odom, another face-up player. Vandy needs to bide its time until Ezeli returns, relying on the perimeter group more than ever.
Erick Green, Virginia Tech: With freshman Marquis Rankin already out, Green was expected to take on more of a point guard role. However, he missed the opener against East Tennessee State with an Achilles injury. He is a game-time decision for Monday night’s game against Monmouth. Without Rankin and Green, the Hokies struggled to control the ball, racking up more turnovers than assists. Sophomore Tyrone Garland better be ready. Tech is also without forward J.T. Thompson, who will miss the entire season with an ACL tear in his right knee.
Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State: Who really knows with Sidney at this point? He missed Saturday’s game with a groin injury, but head coach Rick Stansbury also said he was “sick” at one point. Arnett Moultrie stepped up in his absence, going for 28 points and 13 rebounds. Center Wendell Lewis saw an increase in minutes, but he is more of a factor on the boards and on the defensive end. Sidney should be back soon, but his attitude and conditioning is more of a concern than his injury.
Sammy Zeglinski, Virginia: The Cavaliers kicked off their campaign with a 37-point victory over South Carolina State on Sunday. Zeglinski, who played nearly 26 minute per game last season, missed the game with a sprained ankle. In his place, Jontel Evans handled the position effectively. The two split time last season, and Evans puts on more pressure at both ends. Zeglinski can play off the ball as well, and his injury isn’t expected to keep him out.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:03 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 8:15 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Texas A&M has been without its coach - and now the Aggies will also be without their top player.
Texas A&M star Khris Middleton will be out for the next few weeks after surgery on a partially torn meniscus in his right knee.
Middleton suffered the injury - which was initially diagnosed as a hamstring injury - in the first half of the Aggies win over Liberty on Wednesday.
Middleton averaged 14.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season.
No. 19 Texas A&M will play Southern on Sunday, and will also be without Middleton next week when the Aggies play at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic.
The team is also without coach Billy Kennedy - who is away from the team after being diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson's disease. It's unclear when Kennedy will return to coach the Aggies.
Posted on: January 15, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 4:11 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
We read and hear a lot about the Nolan Richardson-inspired pressing, trapping defense when Missouri is being discussed, but this game had more to do with halfcourt play, and the Tigers did well on both ends of the floor. Well enough to stay in the game after the Aggies negated an early deficit, and well enough to force overtime.
The Tigers kept A&M in jeopardy in the extra period by getting hot from the perimeter, but in the end, it was the quick hands of B.J. Holmes and the heady play of Khris Middleton that sealed the deal for Mark Turgeon's squad.
The big picture changes here because Texas A&M now joins Kansas and Texas as a major player in the Big 12, while Missouri fades a bit. The Tigers have some serious weapons -- not least among them freshman Phil Pressey, who canned most of the team's deep shots -- and should be able to keep themselves in the tourney picture if they can right the ship over the next few games.