In the first six years of the Rick Barnes era, Texas (17-7, 6-4) routinely strolled into College Station and walked away with a victory. In recent years, that has not been the case.
The Longhorns have dropped the last four meetings in College Station with three of them in blowout fashion. The Longhorns dropped games 74-63 (2004-05), 46-43 (2005-06), 100-82 (2006-07) and 80-63 (2007-08) the last four years.
For Texas, the play of sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay has been the difference in recent games. Balbay made his second career start on Saturday and put together another solid performance with six points and seven assists against a lone turnover.
Balbay is averaging 6.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks in the five Big 12 games in which he has logged 20 minutes or more.
Damion James has also played some his best basketball as a Longhorn in conference play. James is averaging 16.9 points and nine rebounds in Big 12 play.
The Aggies (17-8, 3-7) enter Monday having lost three straight games and six of eight.
For Texas A&M, the play of big men Bryan Davis and Chinemelu Elonu will be key Monday. The duo are averaging 20.4 points, 15 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots per game and will have to rebound the ball and defend ball screens much better than the first meeting. The duo combined for just seven rebounds in 64 minutes on January 24.
Texas owns a 131-83 series advantage, including 17-5 in the Rick Barnes era.
The game is set to tip-off at 8pm central and will be televised by ESPN.
Texas A&M Big 12 results
A Look at the Coaches
Rick Barnes, who is in his eleventh season at Texas, coaches the Longhorns. Barnes has a career record of 466-234, including 264-100 at Texas. Barnes is 126-44 in Big 12 games at Texas.
Mark Turgeon is in his second season as the head coach in College Station. Turgeon has a career record of 195-138. Turgeon is 42-19 at A&M, but just 11-15 in Big 12 play.
A Look at the Numbers
Texas shoots 44.3% from the field, 32.4% from three and 66.2% from the free throw line.
The Aggies convert 43.3% overall, 34.5% from the three point line and 69.4% from the foul line.
The Longhorns surrender 40.1% shooting and own a +5.1 rebound advantage.
Texas A&M surrenders 42.4% defensively and checks in with a +4.7 rebounding margin.
The Longhorns are committing 12.3 turnovers per game, while the Aggies are turning the ball over 12.7 times per contest.
The Longhorn Starters
G Dogus Balbay 6-0 So. (2.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists)
G A.J. Abrams 5-10 Sr. (17.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists)
G Justin Mason 6-2 Jr. (6.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists)
F Damion James 6-7 Jr. (15.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists)
F Gary Johnson 6-6 So. (11.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocks)
Key reserves include 6-11 senior Connor Atchley (5.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks), 6-1 freshman Varez Ward (3.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists), 6-10 sophomore Matt Hill (1.4 rebounds), 6-10 junior Dexter Pittman (8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds) and 6-10 sophomore Clint Chapman.
The Aggie Starters
G Donald Sloan 6-1 Jr. (11.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists)
G Derrick Roland 6-2 Jr. (5.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists)
F Josh Carter (13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists)
F Bryan Davis 6-8 Jr. (10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks)
C Chinemelu Elonu 6-10 Jr. (9.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks)
Key reserves are 5-10 sophomore B.J. Holmes (8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists), 6-8 freshman David Loubeau (5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds), 5-11 freshman Dash Harris (1.5 points and 1.7 assists) and 6-5 sophomore Nathan Walkup (2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds).
What to watch for
Texas will be taking on a team desperate for anything positive. Losers of three straight and headed for the NIT, a win over the hated Longhorns for a fifth straight year at Reed Arena would take some of the sting out of a disappointing season.
Texas has to match the early energy of the Aggies, as they will be in a position to feed off of the home crowd. Balbay has brought much needed energy to Texas from the start and will need to again.
In the first meeting, Abrams did a very good job of chasing Josh Carter and limiting his clean looks. It will be a surprise if the Aggies don't look to isolate more for Carter on Monday night and in midrange post up situations as Carter can turn and shoot over the top or command a quick double team that could create scrambling situations for Texas defensively.
Gary Johnson and Damion James combined for 43 points in the first meeting, but the Longhorns are now playing a smaller line-up and the match-ups will likely be different. James can't settle for early three-pointers off of one or two passes. He must make Davis or Elonu defend and defend off the dribble.
Texas, with the smaller line-up, will be forced to double quickly on post catches and that means rotating off of the correct player. For A&M, Texas will welcome 19 to 22-foot jump shots by Derrick Roland and can live with Sloan taking contested three-pointers.
Forcing Sloan to pull up from 15 to 17 feet off the bounce is also key as the junior has shot the same percentage from two point and three-point range and tends to struggle because of a long release against quality defense. If Sloan gets in the paint, he isn't forced to his weakness and the results are much different.
When Connor Atchley is in the game, Texas would be wise to set screens for him as they did in money set last year and let him run Davis or Elonu as well as ball screening with him on every possession as both Aggie big men haven't done a good job defending the ball screen game. The Longhorns need Atchley to add some offense Monday night.
The Aggies have three players that convert free throws at a sub-62% rate. If Roland, Elonu or David Loubeau have looks inside of five feet, Texas must foul hard and make each of them earn their points at the foul line.