Aggies seek to keep NCAA tourney dream alive

The Texas A&M Aggies (21-8, 7-7 Big 12) face the Baylor Bears (20-8, 8-6 Big 12) in a key Big 12 matchup at 8 p.m. at Waco's Ferrell Center. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Guard Curtis Jerrells (left) leads a balanced Baylor attack. Tony Hooten provides an indepth preview of the Aggie-Bear clash.

The Texas A&M Aggies (21-8, 7-7 Big 12) face the Baylor Bears (20-8, 8-6 Big 12) in a key Big 12 matchup at 8 p.m. Wednesday night at Waco's Ferrell Center.

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

The Aggies have lost four of their last five games and are coming off a 63-37 loss at Oklahoma on Saturday.

Baylor has won three straight games, and is coming off a 100-89 win against Missouri at home on Saturday. Baylor had lost six of seven games before its current three-game winning streak.

Both Texas A&M and Baylor are fighting for an NCAA tourney invite. Baylor would likely lock up their first NCAA invite since 1988 with a win over the Aggies on Wednesday night. A&M's recent losses means the Aggies need at least one win from their last two games against Baylor and Kassas, may need a win or two in the Big 12 tourney, and probably need for the Big 12 to get 6 teams in the NCAA tourney.

Baylor beat the Aggies, 116-110, in a five-overtime game on Jan. 23 in College Station. After a 64-64 deadlock in regulation, the teams combined for 97 points in the overtimes, setting an NCAA record. The game was the longest in the history of both schools and the Big 12. A&M held Baylor to a season-low shooting percentage of .361. The Bears’ 64 points were their lowest in regulation play in the Big 12 this year.

Junior guards Curtis Jerrells and Henry Dugat lead an extremely balanced Baylor Bear attack, The Bears have six players averaging between 9 and 13 points a game. The Bears start 3 guards and get most of their scoring from the guard position.

Curtis Jerrells (6-1, 205) is averaging 15.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in 31 minutes a game.

Henry Dugat (6-0, 170) is averaging 12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 27 minutes a game.

Junior forward Kevin Rogers (6-9, 240) has been the best of the Baylor big men, averaging 12.9 pioints and 8.6 rebounds in 29 minutes a game.

The other two projected starters for Baylor are sophomore guard Tweety Carter (5-10, 185) and senior forward Mark Shepherd (6-9, 225). Carter is averaging 9.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 25 minutes a game. Shepherd is averaging 1.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 13 minutes a game.

Coming off the bench for the Bears are freshman guard LaceDarius Dunn (6-4, 200), senior guard Aaron Bruce (6-3, 185), junior center Mamadou Diene (7-0, 250), and sophomore center Josh Lomers (7-0, 265). Dunn is averaging 21 minutes, 12.7 points, and 3.9 rebounds a game. Bruce is averaging 22 minutes, 9.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists a game. Diene is averaging 16 minutes, 3.4 points, and 3.8 rebounds a game. Lomers fills the middle but produces little on offense, averaging 13 minutes, 4.0 points, and 2.4 rebounds a game.

Texas A&M is expected to start the same lineup as it did for the Texas Tech game: 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 freshman center DeAndre Jordan (7-0, 260).

Josh Carter leads the Aggies in scoring with 12.6 points and 4.2 rebounds a game and has scored in double figures in 19 of the last 23 games. Carter has hit 63 three-pointers this season and ranks fifth in career three-point accuracy in Big 12 history at 42.7 percent. In A&M's big win over Texas in January, Carter led the Aggies with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Joseph Jones is averaging 10.7 points and 5.2 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 last month 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 21 games and tied his season-best with 9 rebounds against Missouri.

Donald Sloan is averaging 9.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists a game. Sloan scored a career-high 21 points with 5 assists and 5 rebounds against Missouri and has made 21 of his last 23 free throws.

Dominique Kirk is averaging 7.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists a game. Kirk owns the Big 12 record for consecutive starts with 125. A defensive All-American last year, Kirk’s primary defensive assignment in Big 12 play this year has made just 33 percent from the field.

DeAndre Jordan started the first 17 games of the season, and returned to the starting lineup in last Wednesday's win over Texas Tech. Jordan and is now averaging 9.0 points and 6.4 rebounds a game and ranks among the top 15 nationally in field goal percentage (.629, 160 FGA min.).

First off the bench and averaging over 20 minutes a game will be sophomore forward Bryan Davis (6-9, 250) and sophomore guard Derrick Roland (6-4, 190).

After coming off the bench the first 17 games of the season, Bryan Davis started the 10 games prior to Texas Tech. In 10 games as a starter, Davis ranked second on the team in scoring (11.5) and leads in rebounding (6.2). For the season, he leads the team steals (31), ranks second in blocks (33) 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 picked up his second double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Missouri.

Derrick Roland is averaging ed 9.3 points in the last three games. He scored a team-high 13 points against Nebraska, making 3-of-5 from three-point range, and followed with 11 in the win against Tech.

Beau Muhlbach has averaged 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in the last two games, averaging 15.5 minutes per game. He added a career-high 3 steals in the loss at Oklahoma.

Freshman guard Derrek Lewis (6-5, 195) came off the bench and played 17 minutes in A&M's win over Tech last Wednesday, based upon his strong defensive performance in practices earlier in the week..

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), and true freshman forward Nathan Walkup (6-6, 195).

To get a better feel for the Aggie - Bear matchup, Baylor is now rated No. 34 (of 341) in Jeff Sagarin's Basketball Ratings.

Baylor's most impressive wins this season a have been the 116-110 5-overtime win over Texas A&M (No. 29), a 68-64 win on the road over Notre Dame (No. 30), a 92-86 home win over Kansas State (No. 33), a 80-74 home win over Texas Tech (No. 63), and Saturday's 100-89 home win over Missouri (No. 65).

Baylor's losses have been a 67-64 home loss to Washington State (No. 14), a 85-78 home loss to Arkansas (No. 50), 77-71 and 92-91 losses to Oklahoma (No. 36), 80-72 and 82-77 losses to Texas (No. 8), a 100-90 loss to Kansas (No. 5), and a 93-83 road loss to Oklahoma State (No. 69).

Texas A&M saw their Sagarin rating drop from No. 17 to No. 36 after the Tech, K-State, and Baylor losses, back to No. 17 after the Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Missouri wins, and down to the current No. 29 after the losses to Oklahoma State, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

Texas A&M's most impressive wins have been last Wednesday's 44-point win over Texas Tech (No. 63), the 17-point win over Texas (Sagarin No. 8), its 23-point win over Ohio St (No. 41), an 8-point win over Oklahoma (No. 36), and its 14-point win over Washington (No. 67).

A&M's eight losses have been by 11 points to Arizona (No. 27), by 15 points to Texas Tech (No. 63), by 21 points to Kansas State (No. 33), the 5-overtime loss to Baylor (No. 34), the 5-point loss to Oklahoma State (No. 69), the 27-point loss to Texas (No. 8), a 6-point loss to Nebraska (No. 66), and last Saturday's 27-point loss to Oklahoma (No. 36).

Texas A&M and Baylor have now faced ten common opponents - Florida A&M, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, and Missouri. The Aggies sport a 8-7 record against these common opponents while the Bears are 8-5 against these common opponents.

Baylor is 12-3 at home this year, 5-2 in Big 12 play, and has won two straight.

The Sagarin and common opponent analysis, recent momentum, and home court advantage all give Baylor give a small edge.

After blowout losses to Texas and Oklahoma, Texas A&M faces a huge challenge when they try to pull out a win on the road at Baylor. Once again, the Aggie backs are up against the wall it will take a massive heart and soul effort to come home with a win.

 


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