Longhorns Scrap Past Aggies 61-51

Earlier this year, Julien Lewis said that he wanted to be known as the Longhorns' defensive specialist, the one called upon to make big stops.

But in a back-and-forth game where scoring was at a premium, Lewis's offensive output proved to be at least as valuable as his defense. He poured in 16 points in leading the Longhorns to a 61-51 victory over the rival Texas A&M Aggies.

"I thought Lewis was a big key," said Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy afterward. "We did a good job on Brown, but they had somebody else step up."

Lewis's night served as a reintroduction after a rough few weeks that saw his shooting percentages plummet after he injured his hand in a car door. He had no such woes in this one, hitting 6-of-10 shots, including three-of-three from behind the three-point line and a pair of big corner threes.

"That's my rhythm shot," Lewis said. "I like the corner shot. I can shoot anywhere, but that corner shot, that's my spot."

He had plenty of help, most notably from tough inside play down the stretch from Clint Chapman and Alexis Wangmene.

The Aggies actually took a one-point lead on a jumper from Elston Turner with 11:40 left before the Longhorns went on a mini run. First, Lewis converted on a three-point play, then Wangmene threw down a rebound dunk off a J'Covan Brown miss. Immediately after, Sterling Gibbs stole the ball and raced to the hoop for a layup that brought the crowd to its feet. That gave the Longhorns a six-point advantage, and while A&M continued to threaten, the Aggies never held the lead again.

"I thought the play that Sterling made was a huge play," said Texas coach Rick Barnes.

Chapman and Wangmene combined for 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, with all of those plays seemingly coming in crunch time. Chapman also took two charges. Brown, who was forced into more of a distributing role with Myck Kabongo in foul trouble, dished out six assists. Brown also had 14 points, including six game-icing free throws in the final minute.

Texas A&M (9-6), considered a conference title contender before the season, struggled at times to find offense and fell to 0-3 in conference play. Khris Middleton had 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Elston Turner and David Loubeau scored 13 and 10 points, respectively.

The Aggies were largely undone by their 17 turnovers that were turned into 19 Longhorn points, and the fact that they only received four points from their bench, to 24 bench points from Texas. WIth the Aggies leaving for the SEC after the season, this marked the final conference trip to Austin for the guys from College Station. Texas makes a return trip to A&M on Feb. 6.

The Longhorns (12-4, 2-1) will next get a chance at another SEC departure in Saturday's contest at Missouri, set to tip at noon.

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