Jayhawks and Aggies on Big Monday

Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon and his Aggies are certainly hungry entering tonight's game at Kansas after losing to powerhouse Oklahoma on Saturday at College Station. The Aggies closed a 13-point second-half deficit to two points with about two minutes remaining before OU pulled away with a 69-63 victory.

Junior swingman Josh Carter led the Aggies with 17 points, while freshman guard B.J. Holmes added 11.

"We need this loss to hurt but we also need to realize that we played the No. 5 team close and played a pretty good ball game," Aggies forward Bryan Davis said.

Texas A&M (15-3, 1-2 in Big 12) hopes to rebound against KU (13-4, 2-0) this evening in a Big Monday ESPN showdown in the Phog.

Tipoff is 8 p.m. in a homecoming for Turgeon, the former KU standout point guard (1983-87). He also served as an assistant coach at Kansas under Larry Brown and Roy Williams until 1992.

The Aggies have lost two of their last three games after winning 10 straight. Kansas, meanwhile, enters Big Monday with a two-game winning streak after beating Colorado at Boulder on Saturday, 73-56. This is an especially critical game for Turgeon's club, which next faces a strong Texas team at Austin Saturday.

On the flip side, KU wants to continue its momentum before heading to Iowa State in five days.

Texas A&M, which has no seniors on the roster, is led by Carter at 13.4 points per game, including a team-high 36 threes. He also leads the Big 12 in free-throw percentage at 88.1. Sophomore guard Donald Sloan is next in scoring at 11.6 points per game, while ranking first in assists (60) and second with 20 steals. Davis averages 10.6 points per game and is second on the team with 6.1 rpg and 23 blocks.
Sophomore forward/center Chinemule Elonu is a force inside, averaging 10.3 points per game and a team-high 7.6 rpg and 28 blocked shots. Sophomore guard Derrick Roland is the fifth starter who averages 5.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Holmes (9.1 ppg and team-high 23 steals), freshman forward David Loubeau (4.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg), freshman forward Nathan Walcup (3.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg) and freshman guard Dash Harris (1.6 ppg, 33 assists, 14 steals) provide punch off the bench.
A&M is outrebounding foes by +4.5 boards per game and has a +7.9 scoring margin, averaging 70.8 points per game while allowing 62.9 points.

KU coach Bill Self believes Turgeon's crew will pose a tough test.
"I do know that A&M can come in and give anybody problems," Self said. "He has a good team and they have athletes. We had two good games with them last year. (KU won at Texas A&M, 72-55, to win share of the regular-season Big 12 championship and then beat the Aggies, 77-71, in the Big 12 Tournament.)

"Our roster is different, and their roster is quite a bit different. But the A&M game is a good storyline. You have a KU great, everybody loves Turge around here. If they don't, they should. He was good for KU basketball in the time that he was here."

Self has fond memories of coaching Turgeon in 1985-86 when he served as a graduate assistant under Brown.

"Turge was smart, he understood the game," Self said. "There's not doubt about that. There's no reason he wouldn't be a good coach, and he has personality. It's no surprise to me that he's doing so well."

Self admits he's "not near as concerned about (Turgeon) as as I will be the guys  he has on the court. I coached Turge, and wasn't a good shooter," Self added with a smile.

"I'm not as concerned about Turge hurting us with his playing ability, but he has a good team and they have good athletes."

Self said Turgeon's homecoming "will not even come up in discussion with our guys to try to motivate them."

Turgeon, though, might certainly talk about his KU roots in his pregame speech to his club. He wants to put on a good show in his first time back on the coaching sidelines in Allen Fieldhouse since leaving Kansas as an assistant coach in 1992. And sure, he'd love to get his first win against his alma mater after going 0-2 last season against KU.

"When I walked out last year at home and saw the red and blue, it was kind of emotional," Turgeon said. "But then when we played them in Kansas City, it was just another game. It will be exciting to me because I'm going to see a lot of familiar faces.

"I know I'm going to coach well because (Allen Fieldhouse) makes me feel good."

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