No. 16 Texas A&M's lineup could get boost vs. Pepperdine (Nov 24, 2017)

BY AP • November 23, 2017

Texas A&M is ranked No. 16, but the Aggies are actually playing at a level above that with a convincing season-opening win over West Virginia and dominating performance in capturing the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., earlier this week.

The Aggies (4-0) potentially will become even better with the addition of redshirt freshman point guard J.J. Caldwell, who is expected to make his season debut Friday against visiting Pepperdine (2-3).

Caldwell has missed the first four games while serving a suspension for violating unspecified school policies.

Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy has relied on Duane Wilson and TJ Sparks to run the point. They combine to average 17.3 points, but their assist-to-turnover ratio is not impressive with 27 assists and 22 turnovers.

The Aggies are averaging 16 turnovers and forcing 12 per game by opponents.

"Fortunately, we've got Wilson and Starks," Kennedy said, "but basketball-wise, (Caldwell's) going to make us better."

Caldwell, who turned 20 on Sunday, is a pass-first point guard who should be able to get frontcourt duo of Robert Williams and Tyler Davis the ball in high-percentage shooting situations. His play should also open up the perimeter for players like DJ Hogg and Admon Gilder.

"He'll make us more versatile, and he can score, too," said Davis, a 6-foot-10 center who is averaging 14 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. "He's not just a passer. He's really strong and can blow by defenders and score over the top big men.

"I've been waiting a long time to play with him. We have a chemistry that's kind of weird. We haven't known each other that long, but he sees my every move and knows what I'm doing. I love that."

Kennedy has not mentioned whether Caldwell will start against Pepperdine. Wilson, who scored a season-high 22 points Tuesday against Penn State and was named to the Legends Classic all-tournament team, has been the starter.

Pepperdine is coming off an 80-76 win over Oral Roberts on Tuesday in Malibu, Calif.

Freshman guard Colbey Ross averaged 23 points the last two games and was named to the Legends Classic Malibu sub-regional all-tournament team. He leads the Waves in scoring (14.8 points per game) and assists (5.2).

"Colbey Ross stepped up and made some big plays on both ends of the court," Pepperdine coach Mary Wilson said of Ross, who scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half to fuel the win over Oral Roberts.

"He played like a senior. With (our) foul trouble, we had numerous guys step up. I'm proud of the guys' response to the challenge at halftime (rallying from a 15-point deficit)."



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