Thursday, March 02, 2006

That Was Fun - Texas (long)

Well - Needless to say that was a VERY big win for the mighty Texas Aggies last night. What an amazing scene at Reed in front of the biggest crowd in the history of Texas A&M Basketball, 13,175 (capacity is only 12,500). If you didn't get a chance to watch or haven't seen the highlight or even just want to watch it about 10 more times as I have done this morning you can find a bunch of videos at

I'm not quite sure where to begin so I am just going to start rambling - please accept my apologies in advance.

For about 4 or 5 weeks in a row now we have talked about how downright ugly all of these games were. Well, the longer this has gone on, the more used to it we have seem to become and last night's game was no exception. The Aggies and Longhorns were locked into a classic out-and-out brawl. Was this Kyle Field or Reed Arena. Did Martellus sack A.J. Abrams or foul him going for a layup?

I know we're all getting used to watching this style of hoops when The Dude replied to my "this is a brawl" text with something along the lines of "Yeah... a brawl that is fun to watch". As ugly and as physical as it was it sure was an entertaining game, I know that much.

The game was as physical of a matchup as I have seen in some time. While the officials missed what appeared to be some blatantly obvious calls when guys had the ball inside, I thought they did a great job of letting the big guys bang away on each other in the paint and overall did a good job. The fact that the game was as physical as it was for 40 minutes and they only called
32 fouls (one of which was intentional) on both teams. This speaks to how loose they called it and how much they let them play.

The first half got off to shaky start with both teams missing plenty of shots. Texas ended up only making 8 field goals in the first frame and the Aggies only 9 with both teams shooting ~35%.

Texas threw a nasty 2-3 collapsing zone at A&M that really flustered the boys in Maroon and White on the offensive end of the floor. There had to have been 4 or 5 possessions in which the Aggies had to throw up some junk as the shot clock was ticking toward zero. The Longhorns did a great job of collapsing down on Joe and AK while at the same time using their athleticism to extend the perimeter and not allow A&M very many good looks.

The Aggies countered with their typical suffocating man defense using a heavy dose of switching to work around the UT motion and screening offense. The Aggies can apply so much pressure to a team on the defensive end of the floor that it not only wears on them physically it also starts to work on them mentally. Throw a deafening crowd on top of that and UT struggled all night long.

The second half featured more of the same - physical play, great defense and missed shots. All told, the Aggies and Longhorns combined to miss 60 shots last night while only making 30. Two teams that get together for some hoops and go 30-90. I'm not too handy with the math, but I think that works out to making about 1 out of 3. That's not good.

In fact, Texas was so bad (or was A&M's defense that good?) that they only made 13 baskets in the game which included just 5 in the second half. A&M outscored UT in the second half 19 to 15. Take away Acie's game winner and they combined for 31 points in the first 19:59.99 of the second half. Under!

We could go on and on about the numbers, the points, the makes, the misses, blah blah blah. A&M just took down UT in the biggest win for that program in the last 20 years. A win is a win, bottom line, and all that matters is that A&M had more points on the board when the clock went to 00:00.

Do you guys want to talk about PJ Tucker? OK good.

That was fun also. As a precursor, PJ was academically ineligible last season for making an F or two in the fall semester. There were plenty of good signs from the students, nothing better than this crafty play on ESPN:


Another one of my favorites was the sign with a fist in the "hook 'em horns" position and the caption - "Hey PJ, how many fingers am I holding up?"

The students killed Mr. Tucker with chants of "StoooooPid - StoooooPid" all night long. There were also about 100 kids holding up newspapers that had a big maroon F painted on them when he was shooting free throws. Call it classless if you want. I will choose to call it being in college and having some fun with your rival - or as Dustin would simply say - "COLLEGE!" - and then he'd just grin.

The Austin American Statesman had this to say about his boneheaded play that allowed Acie to knock down the game winner:

"Tucker just kept dribbling until the clock expired, his seventh turnover of the game on a night when fans had repeatedly called him stupid."

All of this being said, PJ is a heck of a ball player and will in all likelihood be your Big XII player of the year when it's all said and done.

Real quick - I said my solution to shutting down PJ Tucker would have been a steady dose of Martellus Bennett - I was wrong as Gillispie went with a steady dose of Antanas Kavaliauskas. Instead of choosing to go quick and athletic he chose to go big and wide, a gamble that clearly paid off as PJ was rather ineffective all night long. Antanas continues to get better with
every game he plays.

The win over Texas has guaranteed the Aggies the #4 seed in the tournament in Dallas next weekend. They will play the winner of the 5/12 game at 2:00 on Friday afternoon. The 5/12 game will in almost all certainty be either Colorado or Nebraska vs Missouri or Baylor - more on this in the update after the Tech game.

Some quick hits:

- Bryan Davis (2006/2007 signee) was at the game. He and Josh Carter sawed them off together in the mob of people after the game. JC then took him to the locker room to celebrate with the team. Glad to see him fitting in with the guys before he's even on campus.

- Chris Walker (1st team) and Joseph Jones (2nd team) were named Academic All Big XII yesterday.

- Chris Walker and Joseph Jones played all 40 minutes.

- Pompey only played 13 minutes, but was huge for the Aggies early on having a couple of big buckets and 3 offensive rebounds. (Nevermind the two horrible turnovers).

Bizarre Rotation of the Game - Nothing really stood out here. As we alluded to in the last note, the rotation appears to be rather fixed at this point.

Bizarre Stat(s) of the Game - Not much stood out here either.

Looking Ahead

Let me take off my maroon tinted glasses for a moment - I think there is a 75% chance the Aggies are in the NCAA tournament at this point. They have been winning a lot of games down the stretch and now they have the elusive signature win to add to their resume. I think in order to get the number to 100% they will need to win one of these last two games - at Tech on Saturday and next Friday at the tournament in Dallas. We will also touch on this more
after this weekend's games.

Know this undoubtedly - At this point, the Aggies now rest squarely on the right (good) side of the proverbial "bubble".

They travel to Lubbock on Saturday to take on the Red Raiders in what will bring to conclusion the best regular season of Aggie hoops over the past 25 years. The game is at 12:45 on ESPN+ (Bootleg 51 in Houston).

As we said a moment ago, if they win in Lubbock, they can punch their ticket to the big dance, guaranteed. The Aggies present some nice matchup problems for the Red Raiders and if they can avoid the big letdown they should come out of Lubbock with their 7th win in a row.

We'll have much more after Sunday's games including a look at all of the tournament matchups.

Big 12 Standings
Texas 12-3
Kansas 12-3
Oklahoma 11-4
Texas A&M 9-6
Colorado 8-7
Nebraska 7-8
Texas Tech 6-9
Kansas State 6-9
Iowa State 6-9
Oklahoma State 5-10
Missouri 4-11
Baylor 4-11

Big XII games this weekend.

Saturday, Mar. 4
Texas A&M at Texas Tech - 12:30 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)
Kansas at Kansas State - 3:00 ESPN+ (Ch. 51 in Houston)
Baylor at Oklahoma State - 6:00
Iowa State at Colorado - 7:00

Sunday, Mar. 5
Nebraska at Missouri - 1:00 ESPN+
Oklahoma at Texas - 3:00 CBS

As you were.



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