The Missouri game, in case you haven’t heard, is Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.
The website “Bovada.lv” has released college basketball player-of-the-year odds, and Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson (7/4) is the slight favorite over Kentucky’s Anthony Davis (2/1), who is way ahead of Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (13/2).
All of which at the moment means nothing to Robinson, an athlete locked in enough to know the only way to get it done is to train his focus on the next opponent and all the details that go into defeating it.
In this case, that’s Texas A&M on Wednesday in College Station. The Aggies’ season has been fraught with injuries, illness and embarrassing losses.
Even so, they’re getting better. Their last three home games: three-point loss to Baylor, two-point loss to Texas, nine-point loss to Missouri.
Khris Middleton, A&M’s most accomplished player, returned for Saturday’s Missouri game from his second knee-caused inactive stretch. Without Middleton, the Aggies were a tough out for Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, where KU won, 64-54.
“We’ve got to play tougher than the first time,” Robinson said before Monday’s practice. “We were not only struggling, but if I remember right, we were down in the first half.”
Robinson remembered right. A&M took a 30-28 lead into the locker room.
“They’re going to be a much better team now,” Robinson said. “We have to go down there prepared with our minds right.”
Defensively, the Aggies like to clog the lane, which creates three-point opportunities. Only Tyshawn Taylor (3-for-6) made them pay in the first game. The rest of the players combined to make one of 14.
“They sit their off-side guy right in the middle of the lane, so it’s kind of hard for us to work our game plan, which is inside-out,” Robinson said. “We’ll just have to work around it, but it’s not like it’s our first time playing them. We know what to expect.”
Robinson and center Jeff Withey both are prolific scorers, which drives home the importance of feeding the post. A&M won’t make it easy.
“Coach (Bill) Self’s going to find a way for our game plan to work,” Robinson said.
He carries a heavy load, and mid-February can be when players feel it most.
“You have your days you’re tired,” Robinson said. “Some days you feel good. It’s all part of the season. But when I’m playing, it’s not a problem. It’s not something that will stop me. I’m in pretty good shape right now to finish the season off.”