No 23 Aggies battle No 10 Horns

The No. 23-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (16-4, 2-3 Big 12) battle the No. 10 Texas Longhorns (16-3, 3-1 Big 12) in a Big 12 Conference showdown on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Reed Arena. Texas is led by super point guard D.J. Augustin (left). The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2. Tony Hooten previews the Aggie-Longhorn clash.

The No. 23-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (16-4, 2-3 Big 12) battle the No. 10 Texas Longhorns (16-3, 3-1 Big 12) in a Big 12 Conference showdown on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at a sold-out Reed Arena.

The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

The Aggies are coming off a 59-56 road win against Oklahoma State on Saturday, which ended a three-game losing skid.

The Longhorns are coming off a 73-47 home win against Texas Tech on Saturday for their third straight victory.

Texas is in its 11th season under Coach Rick Barnes. Barnes has a record of 232-89 at Texas and a record of 17-4 against Texas A&M.

The Longhorns finished 25-10 last season, placing 3rd in the Big 12 with a 12-4 mark. They advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Longhorns are led by sophomore guard D.J. Augustin (6-0), who is averaging 20.7 points and 6.0 assists per game. Augustin is widely considered one of the best point guards in the country.

According to Aggie coach Mark Turgeon, "Augustin is pretty special ... I don’t know who’s better at the point than him .... D.J. offensively is definitely in control of the game. He knows when to score, he knows when to get the ball to his guy. He’s smart on top of talented. That’s a good recipe ... He’s got a green light to do whatever the needs to do to win games. He’s fast enough to go by anybody and then when you have a jump shot to go with it, it’s tough to guard."

Junior guard A.J. Abrams (5-11) adds 17.7 points a game and leads the Big 12 with 3.1 three-point field goals per game.

Sophomore forward Damion James (6-7) averaged 13.7 points and 10.8 rebounds, ranking him eighth nationally. Aggie coach Turgeon say James "is having a phenomenal year."

Other expected Longhorn starters are sophomore guard Justin Mason (6-2) and junior center Connor Atchley (6-10). Mason is averaging 6.7 point and 3.9 rebounds a game while Atchley is averaging 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.

All five Longhorn starters are averaging over 30 minutes a game, with guards Augustin and Abrams averaging over 35 minutes.

First off the bench for the Horns are freshman 6-7 forwards Gary Johnson and Alexis Wangmene. Johnson is averaging 17 minutes, 5 points and 4 rebounds a game, while Wangmene is avaraging 11 minutes, 3 points and 2 rebounds a game.

Texas A&M is expected to start the same lineup as it has for its last three games: junior forward Josh Carter (6-7, 200), senior forward Joseph Jones (6-9, 255), sophomore guard Donald Sloan (6-3, 205), senior guard Dominique Kirk (6-4, 185), and sophomore forward Bryan Davis (6-9, 250).

Josh Carter leads the Aggies in scoring with 13.5 points a game and has scored in double figures in 14 straight games. Carter has hit 45 three-pointers and ranks second in career three-point accuracy in Big 12 history at 43.3 percent.

Joseph Jones is averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds a game. Jones was named MVP of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season-Tip-Off in November and ranks among the school’s career top 10 in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, field goal percentage, steals, free throws and free throw attempts.

Donald Sloan is averaging about 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists a game, and has averaged 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the last two games.

Dominique Kirk is averaging about 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists a game. Kirk owns the Big 12 record for consecutive starts with 116 and was a .defensive All-American last year.

Bryan Davis has started the last three games for the Aggies and is averaging averaging 8.5 points and 5 rebounds a game. Davis posted career highs in rebounding (30) and rebounding (14) against Baylor for his first career-double-double. Davis leads the team in blocks (26) and steals (18) and is third in rebounding (4.7). He is making .586 from the field in Big 12 play.

First off the bench and averaging over 20 minutes a game will be freshman center DeAndre Jordan (7-0, 260) and sophomore guard Derrick Roland (6-4, 190).

Jordan started the first 17 games of the season and is now averaging about 9 points and 7 rebounds a game, while Roland is averaging 7 points and 3 rebounds. Jordan, a preseason freshman All-America pick, ranks third nationally in field goal percentage (.693).

Other Aggies who have seen significant playing time are sophomore forward Chinemelu Elonu (6-10, 235), true freshman guard B.J. Holmes (6-0, 175), true freshman forward Nathan Walkup (6-6, 195), and senior guard Beau Muhlbach (6-5, 205). Holmes has made 5-of-8 (.625) from three-point range in Big 12 play, including 4-of-7 (.571) in the last two games.

Aggie coach Turgeon was asked about starting Bryan Davis over DeAndre Jordan the last three games and responded "I think it’s the best thing for our team right now. I think Bryan Davis has earned it, he’s played at a high level. DeAndre struggled in our first two big 12 road games out of the gate. I brought him off the bench in the Baylor game and he played more minutes than he has as a starter."

To get a better feel for the Aggie - Longhorn matchup, Texas is rated No. 14 (of 341) in Jeff Sagarin's Basketball Ratings.

Texas' most impressive games this season have been a 63-61 road win over then-No.1 ranked UCLA (Sagarin No. 5), a 97-79 home win over then No. 7 ranked Tennessee (No. 6), an 81-62 home win over St. Marys (No. 27), and Saturday's 73-47 rout of Texas Tech (No. 75).

Texas' three losses have been on the road to to then No. 10 ranked Michigan State (No. 9), at home to Wisconsin (No. 11), and onm the road to Missouri (No. 54).

By contrast, Texas A&M has seen their Sagarin rating drop from No. 17 to No. 33 after the Tech, K-State, and Baylor losses and Oklahoma State win.

Texas A&M's most impressive wins have been its 23-point win over Ohio St (No. 22) and its 14-point win over Washington (No. 65). A&M's four losses have been by 11 points to Arizona (No. 17) by 15 points to Texas Tech (No. 75), by 21 points to Kansas State (No. 31), and the 5-overtime loss to Baylor (No. 34).

Texas A&M and Texas have faced six common opponents - Rice, Texas State, Oral Roberts, Colorado, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech.

Texas A&M and Texas had similar winning margin is four of those games - Rice, Texas State, Oral Roberts, and Oklahoma State.

Texas A&M beat Colorado by 17 points while Texas escaped with a 2-point win. Texas beat Texas Tech at home by 26 points while Texas A&M lost to Tech by 15 points on the road.

Aggie head coach Mark Turgeon understands that this is a big game for the Aggies.

"A&M’s rise the last three years has made it a national game ... Our backs are kind of against the wall. It’s a big game because it means a lot to the people around here. Our players know it, our coaches know it. I’m looking forward to an outstanding atmosphere on Wednesday night."

Turgeon knows a key to the game will be to slow down D.J. Augustin.

"You’ve got to try to make him shoot jump shots and keep him out of the paint as best you can. Instead of letting him in 20-25 times, maybe you can get him in there 10-12 times, then you hope he misses jump shots and keep him off the foul line. You guard Augustin to try to contain him, knowing that he’s going to score. But we’re not going to totally sell out and double team him all over the floor. They’re too talented. Those other guys aren’t chumps, they’re great players. I think the way other teams have guarded him in the league has been smart. We’ll see if it works for us."

Donald Sloan will have primary defensive responsibility for guarding Agustin and he's looking forward to the challenge.

"D.J. Augustin is a very good player. He’s one of their key players, if not the key player. It’s a tough match up but I know I have help with D Ro and the big men. He comes off a lot of ball screens so I know I’ll need that help from our big men."

Sloan was asked if the Aggies come into this game with a chip on their shoulder and responded

"I think so. Coming off a three game losing streak, we’ve still got that chip, and I think we need to play with that chip for the rest of the conference play. It’s a pretty big game, not because it’s a rival team, but we need the win. It’s hard to be up then down, come up with a win against OSU and then go right back down. We need to play well and win this game (to keep momentum going)."

Dominique Kirk said of this Aggie-Longhorn clash, " It’s a big rivalry game. Texas-Texas A&M is always going to be a big game, but it’s a big game for us, not just because it’s Texas, but it’s a Big 12 game and plus we can get to .500 if we’ve got to go out there and play hard and be physical go out and win this game."

Two keys to watch for are rebounding and free throws. In all 16 of Texas A&M's wins, the Aggies have out-rebounded its opponent and have had more free throw attempts.

Texas leads the series, 129-82, but A&M leads in games played in College Station, 52-50. The Longhorns have a 6-3 edge at Reed Arena, but have lost three straight.

The teams have split the regular season series in each of the last three years with the home team winning each game.

Last season, No. 8 A&M defeated No. 22 Texas (100-82) in College Station and No. 15 Texas edged No. 6 A&M, 98-96, in a double overtime classic in Austin.

Wednesday’s game marks the third straight time the teams have met with both ranked in the top 25.

Three of the last four games have been decided by four points or fewer.

Any way you slice it, this game has the makings of a classic.

I expect this be a real nail-biter and decided in the final minute of play.


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