Texas A&M will look to continue to defend its home court Saturday, although this game will be the biggest challenge of the season thus far. The Aggies are 12-0 at home, but they haven't hosted a team that is the caliber of Baylor.
A&M's Big 12 schedule is back-loaded, and each of its four conference home wins have been against conference also-rans. The Bears are one of the Big 12's hottest teams, and they enter the game coming off wins over Texas and Iowa State.
This will be the 200th game in the series that has been one of the Big 12's most competitive the last five years. It includes the historic 2008 game, a five-overtime Baylor win in College Station.
TEXAS A&M 77, MISSOURI 74: The Aggies clamped down on the Tigers defensively in the second half and held on late to snap the nation's second-longest home winning streak.
A&M (16-6, 5-3 Big 12) held Missouri (16-6, 4-3) without a field goal for almost 11 minutes in the second half, turning a 55-46 deficit into a 66-60 lead. That allowed the Aggies to turn the game into a free-throw contest in the final minutes and end the Tigers' 32-game victory streak in Mizzou Arena.
--The Texas A&M frontcourt needed a good game against Texas Tech.
One, to stir confidence over the existing Big 12 stretch. But two, to erase the bitter memory of last year's conference tournament, when the Red Raiders' Mike Singletary erupted for 43 points in a first-round game, including 29 in a row in the second half.
Credit Bryan Davis for holding Singletary to 11 points in the rematch. And credit backup David Loubeau for showing off his offensive strides (19 points on 9-for-14 shooting) as the Aggies prevailed 85-70.
"We ran a lot of plays for him," A&M coach Mark Turgeon said of Loubeau, a 6-foot-8 sophomore. "He can flat out score. He just needs minutes."
A consistent threat underneath can take pressure off senior Donald Sloan, who's emerged as one of the best guards in the Big 12 since Texas A&M lost Derrick Roland to a season-ending compound leg fracture.
Sometimes outside shots won't fall. That was the case against Texas Tech as the Aggies missed all but two of 16 attempts from 3-point range. Getting Loubeau to convert, while also getting 15 points from Davis, is a huge plus.
--In a conference full of teams that preserve home-court advantage, Texas A&M is among the best. It boosted its home-court string to 15 wins with an 85-70 victory against Texas Tech on Jan. 30. The Aggies are 62-6 in Reed Arena over the past four seasons.
--Texas A&M set a home attendance record by drawing 13,648 for the Texas Tech game. A&M lists the capacity in Reed Arena at 12,292.
ON THE SPOT: Texas A&M is in the middle of a stretch that will have the Aggies play six consecutive games against teams in the top 40 of the RPI. A&M lost to Oklahoma State, beat Texas Tech and Missouri and will play Baylor, Tech again and Kansas over the next two weeks.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've gotta win some road games. ... We've won road games (before), but I think if we want to be part of the NCAA Tournament, we've gotta be a good road team and we've gotta figure out a way to win some road games." -- Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Texas A&M can be a strange team to figure out. The Aggies don't always connect from outside and don't always produce inside. The one constant they need to bring in each game, and usually do, is on the defensive end. The team is scrappy, and fits the character of its coach, Mark Turgeon. Still, it will have trouble at times, as began the week ranked 11th in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (.444) and last in 3-point accuracy (.319).
Texas A&M 67, Colorado 63
Oklahoma State 76, Texas A&M 69
Texas A&M 85, Texas Tech 70
Texas A&M 77, Missouri 74
vs. Baylor, Saturday, Feb. 6
at Texas Tech, Saturday, Feb. 13
vs. Kansas, Monday, Feb. 15
at Iowa State, Saturday, Feb. 20
IN FOCUS: The game against Baylor could threaten the Aggies' own home-court streak. The surging Bears recently posted an overtime win at Texas.
--F Khris Middleton had 16 points off the bench Wednesday, his fifth game in double digits this year.
--PG Dash Harris had one of his worst games of the year with six turnovers and only one point against Missouri.
--G Donald Sloan has scored in double digits in 19 of 22 games this year, including six in a row.