In a way, the two teams could be mirror images of each other. Both teams failed to come out of non-conference play with a big-time win. Both have been better defensively recently than offensively, and both struggled with the four-out offense of Iowa State. While Texas fell 77-71 to the Cyclones in the Longhorns' season opener, Iowa State traveled to College Station in the second game and put a 24-point win on the Aggies, 74-50.
The difference from there is that Texas A&M fell in a defensive showdown with Baylor, at one point missing 10 shots in a row and scoring just 17 points by half. The Longhorns won their defensive clog-em-up contest despite scoring just 21 by intermission against Oklahoma State.
All of which states two things: both Texas A&M and Texas can get after it defensively, and both teams need to grab Wednesday's contest. Texas A&M can't afford to fall to 0-3 in league play and needs to develop confidence. And the Longhorns can't afford to drop a home contest to one of the current bottom teams on the league totem pole.
The game has historically been a great one, though fans who look for free-flowing offensive basketball might want to turn their heads. Both are teams that have some scoring weapons — most notably Elston Turner and Khris Middleton, while Ray Turner and David Loubeau are also capable of big games. All four players average in double figures, though the Aggies haven't quite been able to get all of them going at once.
In fact, the Aggies have only topped 67 points in three games this year, and haven't accomplished it against a name school (Liberty, Southern and Arkansas Tech). Two of those performances, a pair of 80-point outbursts, came in the season's first two games, meaning A&M has only scored more than 67 points once — hitting 76 versus ATU — in its last 12 games.
Still, the Aggies were a preseason favorite for a reason. The talent is there for the Aggies to make a leap at any given point, and the A&M defense, which has allowed 70-or-more points just twice this year, means that the Aggies likely won't be out of striking range.
If Texas wants to make it back to the NCAA Tournament, this is a contest the Longhorns need to finish out. And if the Aggies wish to right their ship, it's a must win for the guys from College Station. That's why, despite the fact that neither squad is a so-called "elite" team, tonight's contest could have some intrigue.