December 17, 2009

Aggies look to solve slow starts

Starting slow at the beginning of halves had been a common occurrence with Texas A&M basketball for most of the season, but the No. 23 Aggies seemed to have dropped that habit by the wayside in wins over Prairie View A&M, Akron and North Texas.

But in Houston in A&M's 84-81 loss to No. 19 New Mexico, the ugly starts appeared once again. A&M fell behind quickly, 15-14, in the first four minutes of the game. The Aggies crept closer but a 15-8 UNM run gave the Lobos a 40-29 halftime lead. The second half started the same way as New Mexico climbed out to an 18-point lead before A&M senior Donald Sloan caught fire and brought the Aggies back to within a bucket in the final minute.

The starts to both halves, however, did the Aggies in as New Mexico was too good to completely overcome the poor starts.

"I can't explain that one. I wish because the same guys that start first halves bad sometimes start second halves great. I don't know if you've noticed that," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "It's all a mindset with them. I just think that we were prepared too much for the other team and it wasn't getting us anywhere, and we were becoming robots instead of basketball players. I thought we were that way (at the start against New Mexico) and finally just got back to what we do."

Following the loss to New Mexico, A&M junior guard B.J. Holmes said that practices the week before the game with New Mexico were sluggish at the beginning, which may have carried over into the game.

"I don't think we came with as high energy as we normally do," he said after the game. "I think that has to do with practice. We've been taking it slow and then speeding it up at the end, and I think we need to practice better to get better results."

But Sloan doesn't see it the same way. For the senior guard and A&M's leading scorer, it's more about accountability and not making any excuses. That, however, does start in practice.

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