On December 18th, Texas A&M was ranked #8 in the AP poll with a 9-1 record. Since then, they lost 3 of their last 5 games and fell out of the top 25 in this week’s poll.
Despite their recent struggles, don’t dismiss the Aggies. They are a top 10 in the country at full health.
Head Coach Billy Kennedy had to shuffle his rotation almost every game because of injuries, illnesses, and suspensions. But it looks like he may finally have most of his rotation back for Tuesday night’s game at Kentucky.
Kennedy’s starting lineup was projected to be Duane Wilson, Admon Gilder, DJ Hogg, Robert Williams, and Tyler Davis. However, that lineup has only played 11% of the non-garbage time possessions this season.
Over this 5 game stretch where they struggled to a 2-3 record, Williams, Wilson, and Hogg missed at least 2 games, and Gilder missed all 5. Kennedy needs all of these players back on the court, but none more than Gilder.
Without him, they’ve struggled from beyond the arc on both ends of the floor.
This shouldn’t be a long-term problem for the Aggies with Gilder on his way back. In an analysis of their season, Gilder has the highest NetRtg (PPP margin) on the team highlighted by team bests in both offensive 3P% and defensive 3P% when on the court.
Gilder’s return should help reinstate this team as a top 10 in the country. He leads the team in both offensive and defensive efficiency in non-garbage time. This is largely because he’s the team's top shooter, converting on 44% of his 3s, as well as their best guard defender.
According to Synergy, Gilder ranks 21st in the nation in defensive efficiency for players with at least 70 possessions as the primary defender. Opponents are shooting just 28.5% from 3 and 5% in the paint when Gilder is sticking them.
Gilder is not the only one who will help flip the 3pt line back in the Aggies favor. Junior wing, DJ Hogg, is shooting 48% from deep and has used his length to defend at a high level. Texas A&M’s stats are staggering with both players on the court.
The graphic below shows how their teammates have performed with both Gilder and Hogg on the court with them compared to having just one or neither player on the court.
The NetRtgs of the rotation players with both Gilder and Hogg on the court show the potential of this team at full strength. Robert Williams (+.31) and Tonny Trocha-Morelos (+.41) are two bigs who really excel playing with Gilder and Hogg.
These four players have played together for only 6% of the team’s total possessions this season, but the results are ridiculously good. Their defensive PPP is .64 leading to a NetRtg of +.55.
If Kennedy can get to a lineup featuring these four players, the Aggies will be back in the top 10 of the AP poll very soon.