No 16 Aggies seek sweep over No 11 Horns

The No. 16-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (20-5, 6-4 Big 12) will be seeking to sweep the No. 11 Texas Longhorns (21-4, 8-2 Big 12) in their Big 12 Conference showdown on Monday at 8 p.m. at Austin's Erwin Center. Texas is led by super point guard D.J. Augustin (left). The game will be televised nationally by ESPN. Tony Hooten previews the Aggie-Longhorn clash.

The No. 16-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (20-5, 6-4 Big 12) battle the No. 11 Texas Longhorns (21-4, 8-2 Big 12) in a Big 12 Conference showdown on Monday at 8 p.m. at Austin's Erwin Center.

The game will be televised nationally by ESPN.

The Aggies are coming off a disappointing 59-54 home loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, which ended a five-game winning streak.

Texas has won five straight, the longest winning streak in the Big 12, and is coming off an 82-77 win at Baylor on Saturday. The Horns are unbeaten since the Aggies handed them a 17-point whoopin', 80-63, on January 30th..

Texas is in its 11th season under Coach Rick Barnes. Barnes has a record of 237-90 at Texas and a record of 17-5 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 18.8 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 dow 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 17.5 points a game and leads the Big 12 with 3.1 three-point field goals per game.

Sophomore forward Damion James (6-7) averaged 13.0 points and 10.6 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. Mason is averaging 7 point and 4 rebounds a game while Atchley is averaging 10.5 points and 5.4 rebounds.

All five Longhorn starters are averaging over 28 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 18 minutes, 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds a game, while Wangmene is avaraging 10 minutes, 2 points and 2 rebounds a game.

Texas A&M is expected to start the same lineup as it has for its last eight 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 13.1 points a game and has scored in double figures in 17 of the last 19 games. Carter has hit 59 three-pointers this season, has made 9-of-18 (.500) from three-point range in the last three games, and ranks second in career three-point accuracy in Big 12 history at 43.4 percent. In A&M's big win over Texas, Carter led the Aggies with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Joseph Jones is averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. Jones was named MVP of the NIT Season-Tip-Off in November and scored a season-high 18 points with 6 rebounds in the win over Oklahoma. Jones ranks among the school’s career top 10 in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, field goal percentage, steals, free throws and free throw attempts. Jones has scored in double figures in 20 games and tied his season-best with 9 rebounds against Missouri .

Donald Sloan is averaging 9.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists a game, and has averaged 13 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists in the last five games. Sloan scored a career-high 21 points with 5 assists and 5 rebounds against Missouri and has made 17 of his last 18 free throws.

Dominique Kirk is averaging 8.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists a game. Kirk owns the Big 12 record for consecutive starts with 121. A defensive All-American last year, Kirk’s primary defensive assignment in Big 12 play this year has made just 32 percent from the field.

Bryan Davis has been arguably A&M's MVP this season. After coming off the bench the first 17 games of the season, Davis has started the last 8 games. In eight games as a starter, Davis ranks second on the team in scoring (12.4) and leads in rebounding (6.3). He averaged 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds as a reserve. For the season, he leads the team in blocks (30) and steals (25) and is third in rebounding (5.0).  Davis posted career highs in rebounding (30) and rebounding (14) against Baylor for his first career-double-double. Davis scored 13 points with a team-high 8 rebounds in the Aggies win over Oklahoma, followed that with 16 points and 7 rebounds in the win over Iowa State, and picked up his second double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in last Saturday's win over Missouri.

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 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds a game and ranks among the top 10 nationally in field goal percentage (.658, 145 FGA min.). Roland is averaging 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds.

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-9 (.556) from three-point range in Big 12 play.

To get a better feel for the Aggie - Longhorn matchup, Texas is rated No. 9 (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 72-69 win over then No. 3-ranked Kansas (No. 3) a 97-79 home win over then No. 7 ranked Tennessee (No. 6), an 81-62 home win over St. Marys (No. 25), and a 73-47 rout of Texas Tech (No. 64).

Texas' four losses have been on the road to to then No. 10 ranked Michigan State (No. 9), at home to Wisconsin (No. 11), on the road to the Aggies (No. 17), and on the road to Missouri (No. 48).

Texas A&M saw their Sagarin rating drop from No. 17 to No. 36 after the Tech, K-State, and Baylor losses, and now back to No. 17 after the Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Missouri wins.

Texas A&M's most impressive wins have been the 17-point win over Texas (Sagarin No. 9), its 23-point win over Ohio St (No. 31), last Saturday's 8-point win over Oklahoma (No. 39), and its 14-point win over Washington (No. 75). A&M's five losses have been by 11 points to Arizona (No. 22), by 15 points to Texas Tech (No. 64), by 21 points to Kansas State (No. 29), the 5-overtime loss to Baylor (No. 36), and Saturday's 5-point loss to Oklahoma State (No. 97).

Texas A&M and Texas have now faced ten common opponents - Rice, Texas State, Oral Roberts, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Missouri. Texas sports a 10-1 record against these common opponents while the Aggies are 8-3.

Aggie head coach Mark Turgeon understands the importance of the Texas 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."

The Aggies held Augustin to 14 points and James to just 4 points in their first meeting.

Texas leads the series, 129-83, with a 74-26 edge in games played in Austin and a 23-8 mark at the Erwin Center .

The Longhorns have won five straight against the Aggies in Austin since an 80-74 A&M victory in 2002.

The teams have split the regular-season series in each of the last three years with the home team winning each game. A&M posted an 80-63 victory in College Station on Jan. 30.

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

A&M is 3-3 in true road games this season, 3-2 in Big 12 play, and have won three straight. The Aggies have won 12 of their last 16 Big 12 road games.

Texas is 13-1 at home, 4-0 in Big 12 play, their only home loss being to Wisconsin on Dec 29th..

Two keys to look for will be rebounding and free throw attempts. The Aggies rank among the top 10 nationally in rebounding margin at +8.8. A&M has out-rebounded its opponent and has had more free throw attempts than its opponent in all 20 wins.

The Aggies free throw shooting has improved significantly. A&M has made .720 from the free throw line in the last six games. A&M shot .604 through the first 19 games.

The Sagarin and common point analysis, combined with a home court advantage, would indicate the Horns have a big edge in this game.

However, the Aggies showed in that first encounter that they match up well with the Horns, so this should be a close game.

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

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

 


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