The Aggies (18-8, 4-7) used a balanced attack led by the play of big men Bryan Davis and Chimenelou Elonu. In the first meeting January 24, the duo combined for just 17 points and seven rebounds in 64 minutes.
On Monday, the duo combined for 30 points and 15 rebounds in 55 attacking minutes only slowed down by first half foul trouble.
For the Longhorns, the first half foul trouble of Dogus Balbay hurt Texas' (17-8, 6-5) chances to keep pace on both ends with the energized Aggies.
The Aggies led 22-18 with 7:58 to play in the first half when Balbay went to the bench with his second foul. The Longhorns could only muster a trio of mid-range jumpers by Gary Johnson and two point blank Dexter Pittman scores as the Aggies opened up a seven point lead at the half, 35-28.
The second half was more of the same for Texas A&M as Texas switched from Abrams to Mason on Josh Carter and he immediately hit a three-pointer as Mason was late chasing and fighting through screens. While Carter only hit one of three three-point jumpers in the opening minutes of the second half, Mason's inability to stick with Carter (as well as Abrams had done) put Texas in scrambling defensive situations and the Aggies took advantage.
Throw in a third foul by Balbay in the opening minute of the second half and Texas A&M raced out to a double-digit lead behind the play of Donald Sloan attacking off the dribble.
The Aggies built up as much as a 19-point lead in the second half and the Longhorns could never get closer than four.
Helping the Aggie cause in the second half was the Longhorn's shooting 2-7 from the free throw line in the final 7:45, including a missed front end of a one and one.
Davis and Elonu lead the Aggies with 15 points apiece and were joined in double figures by Sloan with 14 and Josh Carter and B.J. Holmes with 11 each.
Gary Johnson led the Longhorns with 17 points, while James chipped in 16.
A Look at the Numbers
Texas shot 43.1% (25-58) from the field, 23.5% (4-17) from three and 66.5% (12-19) from the free throw line.
The Aggies converted 49.1% (28-57) overall, 43.8% (7-16) from the three point line and 85.7% (18-21) from the foul line.
The Longhorns won the battle of the boards 34-31, while the Aggies won the turnover battle 15-10.
Dexter Pittman played one of his best games of the season even though his box score has looked better in other games. Pittman scored 13 points and pulled down 10 physical rebounds. He connected on 7 of 8 free throws and did a good job of challenging shots even with the goal tending calls. It was a more active Dexter Pittman against a team that didn't have the big guys to pull Pittman away from the basket and make long-range jump shots.
The second half decision to put Justin Mason on Josh Carter got the ball rolling for A&M. Mason is at his best when he is on the ball, but not in a chaser role against a catch and shoot player. While Carter didn't knock down many shots, it created scrambling, rotating situations in the Aggies' favor.
Texas playing 2-3 zone is a lost cause until the taller, lengthier perimeter players arrive. The Longhorns simply don't have the length to play a quality 2-3 zone with a three-guard line-up. When Pittman is in the game, the Longhorns are trying to protect him in zone, but the length and ability to disrupt timing and change passing angles just isn't available.
Against the 2-3, A&M worked to get Carter on Mason's side to be in a position to shoot over the 6-2 backline defender. A&M also placed Holmes on the weak side to give him ample time to get a clean look on passes from side to side or on ball reversal. Holmes' back-to-back three-pointers were back breakers for Texas.
The Aggies pushed and attacked Texas' transition defense from the start and they found some success.
When Texas did make a defensive stop, there was too much ball watching and not enough blocking out. Texas A&M scored 16 or 18 points off of offensive rebounds.
Texas seems content to run a motion offense against man or zone for Abrams. Even when guarded tightly and struggling to get any space, the Longhorns continue to try and force the action in a half court offense featuring one player. When the Longhorns began to push and allow Balbay to attack, they had their best scoring run of the game.
After Texas cut a 16-point deficit to five, the Longhorns went back to the motion offense and became simple to defend. Only the double high ball screen and post feed was successful.