Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A quick note on the Aggies game at Texas tonight.

(My editor is out-of-town, so please forgive me if I have some commas and apostrophes out of place.)

A couple of quick thoughts on the Aggies game at UT tonight.

TV - - ESPN2-HD at 8:00 (The familiar voices of Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla will be calling the game.)
Line - - Texas is favored by 2 points.

Well - I am wondering whether or not to declare tonight's game in Austin as the biggest regular season game in the history of Aggie Basketball?

Let's think about what is on the line:
- A win would more or less secure the Big 12 regular season championship.
- Still a strong possibility of Acie Law winning the Big 12 Player of the Year award.
- Still an outside shot at a #1 seed (Thanks to Tennessee's win over Florida last night).
- Texas is only one game back and is still very alive in the Big 12 title race.
- Texas will certainly have revenge on their minds as they did not like losing at Reed Arena back on February 5th.

It's the Aggies and it's the Longhorns - isn't that usually enough on a stand alone basis?

Regular season championships?
An Aggie being considered for Player of the Year in the league?
The Aggies as a potential #1 seed?

Any one of these things on their own was simply unthinkable less than 3 years ago and here we are today talking about all three of them being realistic possibilities with only two games remaining in the regular season.

If it is not the biggest regular season game in the history of Aggie Basketball, it is certainly the biggest game in a long, long time.

Couple everything we mentioned above with the fact that UT and their fans would love nothing more than to put the Aggies back in their rightful place and you have the makings for what should be a great atmosphere at the big drum in Austin tonight.

OK - Within the game here are a couple of things to keep an eye on.

In their first matchup (Feb. 5th) the Aggies decided to get out and run with the Horns in what seemed to be a pretty good strategy as they were able to come away with the win by a final score of 100-82. Josh Carter (24 points) and Acie Law (21 points) led the way for the Aggies and received much of the attention for the Aggies after that win. However, do not forget about Antanas Kavaliauskas, the big fella finished the first game with 18 points and 11 rebounds and was instrumental in helping to secure that win.

The other thing that stood out from the first matchup were the fouls and the free throws. The two teams got whistled for a combined 53 fouls and they shot a combined 74 free throws. If the officials tonight are calling the game close and tight it will certainly be an advantage for the Longhorns.

In UT's game in Norman on Saturday the Longhorns scored 27 points in the second half and 22 of them were free throws. That's right, they made 2 field goals in the second half (one 3 pointer and one 2 pointer). OU put them on the line 30 times and UT certainly took advantage. The sad thing is that UT still managed to win by 10 points.

UT makes a killing at the free throw line and the Aggies will certainly need to find a way to keep the fouls to a minimum. (Remember that UT made 20 of 21 free throws in the first half of their matchup with the Aggies on Feb. 5th. - it was the only reason they were in the game.)

I would also keep an eye on A&M's big guys, between Kevin Durant and Damion James, neither one can effectively guard Joe Jones and AK in man-to-man situations. I would look for UT to play more than a handful of possessions in various zone defensive sets in an effort to help minimize damage from the A&M forwards.

For all of the attention that Kevin Durant gets, the guys that really make Texas go are guards A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin. If Law and Kirk are allowed (by the officials) to play their attacking and aggressive style of defense then hopefully they can frustrate Abrams and Augustin and get them out of their game. Remember that Kirk only played 16 minutes and fouled out in the first game.

Finally, do not forget that Texas basically has no bench and their 5 starters almost always play over 90% of their team minutes. A&M, while not considered deep, does have three (well, two and a half) reliable guys off the bench in Sloan, Davis, and Pompey. I thought Pompey did some really nice things defensively against Baylor on Saturday and I would look for Marlon to come in early and often in an effort to keep the energy on the floor at a max.

OK - I think I have taken enough of your time. Thanks for letting me ramble.

Let's go with a final score of 72-68 Aggies.

Call me a homer if you like, but I think this is shaping up to be a pretty special year and I think the Aggies just present too many matchup problems for the Longhorns.

If for no other reason, I just hope they can pull out the win for Acie's sake.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Acie Law - Big 12 Player of the Week

It was announced this morning that Acie has been voted Big 12 Player of the Week. It is the second time this season Acie has won this award.

It also represents the 4th time an Aggie has been named Player of the Week this year (Acie twice and Josh Carter twice).

Carry on.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Baylor Recap - 2

Game Recap

The Aggies and Bears hooked up for the 194th time in the “Battle of the Brazos” on Saturday afternoon, a game in which the Aggies prevailed 97-87.

The victory means that Billy Gillispie has run his record against Baylor to an unblemished 6-0.

Before Gillispie arrived in College Station, the Aggies had lost 7 of 10 to their neighbors 90 miles to the north. (Just in case you needed a reminder of how fun Aggie Basketball was before Gillispie arrived in College Station.)

The game had a little bit of a different feel to it as the Aggies were not their usual dominating selves on the defensive end, but they also got out and ran a little more than usual on the offensive end as well.

The 87 points by Baylor were a season high for an opponent against the Aggies this year, while the 97 points scored by the Aggies tied for the 3rd most points they have scored this season.

The Aggies never trailed on Saturday, and the game never got closer than when it was tied at five each.

The first 10 minutes of the game saw Baylor come out and miss 7 of their first 11 shots as the Aggies surged to a 19-10 lead behind the strength of two Josh Carter three pointers.

Behind the strong play of Henry Dugat and Curtis Jerrells, the Bears were actually able to fight back to within three points at 28-25 with 2:42 left before the break.

Almost immediately after the Bears got back to within three, Acie Law hit a three pointer and followed that with a little jumper that allowed the Aggies to extend their lead to 6 points at 37-31 as the two groups headed to the half.

Acie Law was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field in the first half for 13 points.

If you are thinking that the halftime total of 68 points looks low relative to the final total of 184 (yes, the two teams did combine for 116 points in the second half), I think the biggest contributing factor was how the officials called the game after the break.

The officials called a total of 20 fouls in the first half (11 on Baylor and 9 on A&M) compared with a total of 33 in the second half (20 on Baylor and 13 on the Aggies).

This of course led to quite a few more free throws after the break.

- Baylor was 3-for-8 in the opening half and 18-for-24 in the second half.
- A&M was 12-of-14 in the first half and 23-of-30 in the second.

Coming out of the break, the Aggies scored 5 quick points and pushed their lead to 10 points at 42-32 at the 18:36 mark of the second half.

From that point, Baylor went on a 10-2 run to cut the 10 point Aggie lead down to 2 at 44-42.

[Enter Dominique Kirk]

Over the next 2:56 of game time, the Aggies scored 14 points with Dominique Kirk scoring 12 of them including 2 key three pointers.

Gillispie mentioned after the game that he and Kirk talked about his hesitation to shoot the basketball.

“He was a little bit hesitant early. I told him if he's out there and he catches it when he's open, he'd better shoot it, otherwise he's not going to get to play, and then he made two big threes.”

Baylor was leaving Kirk open for most of the game as their gameplan coming in was to use Kirk’s primary defender to either double down on Joe in the post or rotate over on Law or Carter on the perimeter.

Fortunately, Dominique was able to make them pay by going on the before-mentioned scoring tear.

After Kirk scored the final bucket of his streak, the Aggies actually tacked on 5 more straight points to close out a 17-6 run that pushed their lead to 13 points at 61-48.

Baylor, however, would not go away, as they cut the Aggies’ lead back to only 4 points at 69-65 behind the strength of play from their guards (more on that in a moment).

The Aggies weathered the gutsy effort from the Bears and pushed the lead to as many as 14 points late in the game, mainly due to making a ton of free throws down the stretch.

Over the final 9:20 of the game, the Aggies scored 29 points, 17 of which came from the free throw line.

While the good guys did miss 6 attempts down the stretch yesterday, they did manage to shoot 79.5% from the free-throw line as a team. Any coach will tell you that he would take 80% any time you would offer it.

The last minute of the game took some interesting turns.

With the Aggies leading by as many as 14 points and never fewer than 10, Baylor coach Scott Drew continued to have his guys foul the Aggies while he continued to use his full allotment of timeouts.

The crowd, who was already anxious because the game lasted nearly 2 ½ hours, rained down a nearly continuous chorus of boos upon Drew and the Bears.

Gillispie, not to be outdone and wanting to show his frustration with Drew, had his guys call a timeout with 2.5 seconds left in the game while attempting to inbound the ball under the Baylor basket.

As the Aggies broke the huddle from the timeout, they came over and set their inbounds play and basically stood there for 4 seconds and called a second timeout.

The crowd was no longer booing but were now laughing and applauding as everyone knew exactly what Gillispie was doing.

A reporter asked Gillispie after the game about his strategy in trying to get the ball inbounds with 2.5 seconds left. Gillispie said with a smile, “We couldn’t get the ball in.” The reporter, not satisfied, asked, “The first timeout though?” Gillispie said, “We were talking about how to get the ball in.” The media room erupted with laughter.

As much as none of us want to admit it, the Aggies and Bears have a pretty good rivalry and anytime the two schools hook up you know it is usually going to be a pretty good game.

The most concerning thing to come out of yesterday’s game was probably the fact that Baylor was able to hang 87 points on the Aggies, the most by any opponent at Reed Arena since Gillispie has been the coach.

Baylor tried to take a page from the Texas Tech playbook, and who can blame them as the Red Raiders are the only team in the league who has figured out a way to beat the Aggies.

After the game, Scott Drew said, “One thing that was very effective was when Texas Tech drove the ball to the hole and got some fouls and got some buckets. We were trying to get the ball into the paint and get to the free throw line and get some easy ones as well.”

I think we are starting to see a trend here where teams that have two or three guards that can be aggressive, attack off the dribble and find their way into the paint are really going to give the Aggies problems.

Baylor used their aggressive plan of attack coupled with a barrage of ball screens on the perimeter and baseline screens away from the ball to give the Aggies all they wanted on Saturday afternoon.

Gillispie said, “They gave us all we could handle today and we never could figure out how to guard them. We figured it out so well we gave up 87 points. Fortunately we scored 97.”

Offensively the Aggies were as balanced as they have been all season as all 5 starters scored in double digits, but we all need to hope they do not run into someone in the tournament that can get their guards to attack like Tech and Baylor were able to do.

Quick Hits

- Acie finished with a season-high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

- Dominique Kirk also scored a season-high 17 points on 6–of-10 shooting and added 3 boards and 3 assists.

- Big Joe had a VERY productive day as he added 22 points and 6 rebounds while battling the Baylor big men all day long. Joe was also a very impressive 12-of-14 from the free-throw line.

- Welcome back Josh Carter. Josh did not miss yesterday in going 4-for-4 from the three-point line while scoring 14 points. Carter also had 6 assists.

- Kavaliauskas rounded out most of the scoring by chipping in 11 points.

- The Aggie bench managed to score 2 points on Saturday. Sloan and Pompey had 1 each.

- Baylor center Josh Lomers got away with an elbow to Marlon Pompey’s ribs late in the second half. After watching the replay, I think that it was certainly intentional and was for sure a dirty play by Lomers, but I do not think that it will warrant a suspension from the league. That being said, I guarantee you that Gillispie and his staff will send a copy of the tape to the league for review.

- Shortly after the Lomers incident, Gillispie got hit with his second technical foul of the season for arguing with the refs. Coming out of the timeout, the arena announcer told the crowd about the technical and Gillispie took about two steps out onto the floor and began clapping (which continued for about 30 seconds). This got the crowd on their feet, and the place got pretty rowdy along with Coach. It was pretty funny.

- Gillispie got a little choked up at the post-game press conference when the media told him that his sister’s team (she is the head coach at Crockett High School) made it to the state final-four. Gillispie said, “She’s a better coach than I am, I need to talk to her more.”

- Coach was in rare form yesterday after the game, and you can listen to the press conference here:

- Section 106, Row A was awarded this week’s “Whataburger Row of the Game.” I am not sure if you guys know anyone who sits on that row, but it sure would suck to be sitting right in front of the guy operating the scoreboard camera and have him cut off the video right before he pans the camera on you and your buddy. He blew the chance for our big break - - that sucks. We were going to be big stars. Plus, the coupon they gave out required you to buy a large drink and a large french fry in order to get your free burger - - what a ripoff. We gave the coupons to a guy on the street corner who was with his girlfriend. We told her to make sure her boyfriend took her somewhere “really nice” for dinner last night.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies travel to Austin on Wednesday night to take on the Longhorns in a nationally televised game at 8:00 on ESPN2-HD.

The game will all of the sudden have major implications with regards to who will be able to hang around with Kansas and possibly gain a share of the Big 12 lead.

Since losing to the Aggies 100-82 on February 5th, the Longhorns have rattled off 5 straight wins and are only one game behind the Aggies and Jayhawks for the lead in the Big 12.

The margin of victory for UT over that 5 game stretch has been an impressive 15.6 points. Needless to say they have been playing some very good basketball as of late.

Fans of both the Longhorns and Aggies need to be rooting for OU to upset Kansas on Monday night.

We will not be sending out a full preview before the game, but we will drop you guys a note on Wednesday mid-day with a couple of storylines and things to keep an eye on.

Aggie Hoops Report’s Big 12 Player of the Week

Acie Law – Texas A&M
Acie was superb in both games this week in leading the Aggies to a 2-0 record. On Wednesday, the senior guard scored 19 points and added 4 rebounds in the Aggies’ win over 66-46 Oklahoma State. On Saturday Acie added a season-high 31 points against Baylor while also posting 5 assists. In the two games combined Acie went 18-for-30 (60%) from the floor including 3-of-4 (75%) from behind the arc.

Also considered:

Aleks Maric – Nebraska – Maric scored 31 points and 19 rebounds in the Cornhuskers’ win on Saturday over Missouri. Maric also added 11 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday in a loss to Baylor.
Kevin Durant – Texas – Durant had 17 points and 8 rebounds in a win against Tech on Wednesday night. The freshman phenom then followed that up with 32 points and 9 rebounds on Saturday as UT beat Oklahoma in Norman.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

OSU Recap - 2

Game Recap

Well, I think it would be fair to say that the outcome of last night’s game was certainly not what any of us expected.

Sure, we all probably thought the Aggies had a reasonable chance of winning, but nobody would have thought that the good guys would go into storied Gallagher-Iba Arena and hand the Cowboys their worst home loss in the history of the Big 12.

The 66-46 win pulled the Aggies back into a tie with Kansas for first place in the Big 12 with only 3 games remaining in the regular season.

The game had a streaky feel to it as both teams came out of the box shooting the ball about as poorly as you could have imagined. The Aggies opened up the game only making 2 of their first 11 attempts, while the Cowboys came out and only managed to knock down 2 of their first 14 shots.

The combined 16% shooting over the first 8 minutes was not just attributable to poor shooting; I think some great energy by both teams on the defensive end also had quite a bit to do with it.

When the clock rolled past 12:00 in the first half, the score was a rather lackluster 7-4 in favor of the Aggies.

On the Aggies’ next possession, Acie Law pushed the ball the length of the floor and found his way to the rim untouched for a layup that kick-started a great offensive stretch for the Aggies.

Beginning with Acie’s lay-up, the Aggies went on a tear where they made 10 of their next 12 shots and pushed a 3 point lead to 13 points when they led 28-15 at the 4:02 mark.

Behind the strength of Donald Sloan (more on him in a moment) and Bryan Davis off the bench, the Aggies were actually able to extend their lead all the way to 17 points (36-19) before JamesOn Curry hit a long three pointer at the buzzer to make the halftime score 36-22.

The Aggies scored 22 of their 36 first half points in the paint, and while you might immediately think “in the paint” means that Joe and AK were tearing it up, that was not at all the case.

Only 3 of the Aggies’ 11 baskets in the paint were scored by their post players (Davis, Pompey & Jones with one each).

The other 8 baskets were all scored by A&M guards who continuously made their way to the rim against the lackluster defensive performance from the OSU guards on the perimeter. Whether Sloan or Law had the ball it did not matter, both guys were able to convert lay-up after lay-up.

The Aggies actually rallied after their 2-for-11 start to make 13 of their next 19 shots (68%) and finish the half 15-for-30 (50%).

Staying with the streaky theme, both teams came out and started the second half about as poorly as they started the first. OSU only scored 7 points in the first 8+ minutes of the second frame while the Aggies only scored 8.

This included a stretch where the Aggies went nearly 5 minutes without scoring a single point.

Fortunately they were able to finally settle in again and actually managed to push the lead to 23 points on three different occasions in the second half.

The Aggies’ plan-of-attack in the second half was not far different from that of the first as they scored 20 of their 30 second half points “in the paint”. This time the guards only managed to make 6 of those while the “big nasties” inside scored the other 4 buckets.

When asked about getting to the rim so frequently, Donald Sloan said, “I thought, 'Why not do it the rest of the time and see how they are going to react to it,' they kept reacting the same, and we just kept doing it."

The short story for OSU was simply that they could not buy a bucket last night.

The Cowboys finished the game a dismal 16-for-53 (30%) and if not for Curry’s halftime heave and two garbage time three-pointers (one each by Adarius Bowman and Tyler Hatch) the Cowboys would have only made 13 field goals and shot 26%.

Gillispie was quick to not take anything away from OSU in saying, "They are a good team, they just missed a bunch of shots tonight."

Personally I think an old quote from NAIA coaching legend Bob Chipman sums up the Cowboys best when he said, “They're doing some good things at times. But it's not the knock-down, drag-out stuff that they've had in the past that you need to do to get ready to win games in this league."

The Cowboys are now 5-7 in the league, and unless they can pull something together very quickly, they are most likely going to be on the outside looking in when Selection Sunday rolls around.

OK – About Donald Sloan.

Sloan was simply outstanding on Wednesday night. The true-freshman had a season-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting while adding 4 rebounds.

This morning people are singing his praises and talking about his “coming out party”. We have seen flashes of Sloan’s ability over the last couple of weeks, and he has certainly proven himself to be the most productive guy off the bench for the Aggies.

Personally, I would temper the excitement a little bit by adding that OSU’s inability to guard the perimeter had quite a bit to do with Sloan’s success last night.

Yes, Sloan is a very talented freshman.

No, last night’s game should not be an indicator of what to expect from this point forward on a nightly basis from Sloan.

Sloan still has a long way to go on the defensive end of the floor, but at a minimum the Aggies now have a guy that can come off the bench and certainly provide a spark when one is needed.

Sloan is undoubtedly going to be a key guy for the Aggies over the next 3 or 4 weeks.

Alright – There you have it.

Wednesday night was a great win for the Aggies, and they have now won 7 of their last 8 games away from Reed Arena.

Quick Hits

- Acie Law was, well, Acie Law on Wednesday night. The senior guard had 19 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

- Kavaliauskas did not blow the box score away last night with his 7 points, but his 13 rebounds sure did stand out. AK also did a great job on Mario Boggan in limiting the Big 12 player-of-the-year candidate to a season-low 7 points on 3-of-13 shooting.

- Dominique Kirk left the game midway through the first half with a back injury. The sideline reporter for ESPN2 said it was a “back bruise” and that the injury was not serious. Kirk has started all 88 games in his career and unless he can’t walk, I would look for him to be in the starting lineup against Baylor on Saturday.

- Joe Jones was saddled by foul trouble again and scored 8 points and pulled down 8 boards in only 24 minutes of action.

- Everyone’s favorite guy Marlon Pompey was 1-for-1 from the free-throw line last night. Unfortunately Marlon’s make was banked in OFF THE GLASS. I wonder if he called it.

- Josh Carter (10 points) really struggled shooting the ball again last night in going 3-for-11. Josh is shooting a combined 5-of-19 (26%) in his last three games.

- When do we become worried that the Aggies may have a free-throw problem? 10-for-18 (55%), which included 7-for-14 in the second half, is not going to get it done as we get into March. This has to get better and get better very soon.

- JamesOn Curry did not have very much fun last night either in also going 3-for-11 while scoring a season low 8 points.

- The 11 league wins for the Aggies in the Big 12 are a new school record.

- The 23 wins overall are also a new school record.

- In not quite three full seasons, Gillispie has won 29 Big 12 games. In the first 8 years of Big 12 play the previous coaches won a combined 25 games.

Looking Ahead

The mighty Baylor Bears come calling on Reed Arena on Saturday afternoon (12:30 ESPN+ Regional Coverage).

Baylor is, of course, Baylor…… but they have been playing better as of late and anytime these two get together you usually are going to get a game that is a little bit closer than any of us ever like to see.

Baylor is coming in off of a 63-59 win over Nebraska in Waco last night, and the Bears have only one win in their last five games.

The three most recent losses for Baylor have only come by a combined 12 points, which included only a one point loss to UT in Waco.

It would be a major upset if the Bears were able to knock off A&M at home.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Quick Note on Tonight's Game - OSU

Hey guys - do not forget that the Aggies take on OSU in Stillwater tonight on ESPN2 (HD) at 8:00.

I am not going to put together another full preview, but if you would like a refresher, take a look at the preview we put together before these two got together in January.

The personnel for each group has not changed, but the two teams are certainly heading in different directions.

Last time these two hooked up the Cowboys were ranked #12 in the nation and one of hottest teams in all of college basketball. Including that game (a 67-49 Aggie win), the Cowboys have lost 5 of their last 8 games including 4 of their last 5 and are no longer ranked. Conversely the Aggies have won 6 of their last 7 and are still in the top 10.

All of that being said, going into Gallagher-Iba arena is always tough and at 5-6 in the league, the Cowboys know they are fighting for their post-season hopes.

OSU's Mario Boggan was quoted as saying "We're trying to fight to get in (to the NCAA tournament). We need some wins."

Not that you can always put a lot of stock in many of Gillispie's sandbagging quotes, but he also had this to say, "They're almost impossible to beat at home. They're in desperation mode, and sometimes that helps teams sometimes that hurts them. We'll have to play our best."

I think the point remains that the Aggies will have to be at or near their very best tonight in order to come out of Stillwater with a win. The last time a group from A&M did win in Stillwater was in 1923 when A&M won 24-17 (must have been some good defense that night).

If we are going to look at only one thing, I think the key to tonight's game is going to be whether or not Dominique Kirk can stay on the floor. Kirk has become a favorite target of officials as of late. Here are his minutes and fouls over the last four games.

Texas - 5 fouls 16 minutes
Nebraska - 0 fouls 37 minutes
Tech - 5 fouls 26 minutes
OU - 3 fouls 27 minutes

If Kirk can manage to stay on the floor he will be able to help limit JamesOn Curry's looks which will certainly help to slow down the Cowboys.

If you get an officiating crew that is going to call it tight (Texas) I think it will be an advantage for OSU. Conversely, if you get a crew that is going to let them play (Nebraska) then the Aggies can afford to be overly aggressive on defense.

Finally - there was a great piece on Acie & the Aggies in this morning's issue of USA Today. Take 5 minutes and give it a read.

Lets go with a 72-63 Aggies win tonight.

Carry on.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oklahoma Recap - 2

Game Recap

Well, I told a couple of you guys that I was going to simply send the same recap we wrote after the last time the Aggies and Sooners hooked up.

The reason was that Saturday’s game in Norman was eerily reminiscent of the game the two teams played back on January 27th, a game in which the Aggies came from behind after trailing at the half to win 70-61.Flash back to that Saturday in January.

- The Aggies had just lost a heartbreaking game to Texas Tech by two points.
- Up next on the schedule was long-time nemesis, the Oklahoma Sooners.
- In that game, OU jumped out to a small halftime lead in what was an ugly first half.
- The Aggies found renewed energy at halftime and came out and pulled away for the victory.
- The Aggies were led in the second half behind strong play from senior guard Acie Law.

Alright - - Now look at these quotes from the last OU recap - - it is pretty funny looking back on it.

- “The Aggies and Sooners battled in the ‘tale of two halves’ on Saturday afternoon with the Aggies prevailing in the end.”
- “The first half of the game was, in a nutshell, horrible. Neither team could find a rhythm nor get any momentum established on either end of the floor.”
- “In fact, A&M came out so sluggish at the beginning……”
- “…… we all welcomed the halftime break hoping that the 2nd half would provide more highlights than the first.”
- “You could immediately tell that Gillispie got to his guys at the half – they came out and looked like an entirely different group – the difference in their energy level was night-and-day.”
- “Personally, I’m just glad the good guys were able to shake the funk from the Tech game and a lethargic first half to play MUCH better in the second frame.”

Flash back to Saturday.

You could easily have made the exact same statements this time around, the games were that similar.This time around, when it was all said and done, the Aggies were able to come out of Norman with their first ever victory at the Lloyd Noble Center. The low scoring affair saw the Aggies win 56-49.

The Aggies might have looked as bad in the first half as they have all season long. They only managed to make 8 of their 22 field goal attempts for 36%. This included a horrendous 1 for 6 from behind the arc (17%) and 5 turnovers.

The 19 first-half points was easily a season low for Gillispie’s group. Fortunately, the Sooners were not able to do more damage on the offensive end.

In the first frame, OU managed to knock down 11 baskets (3 from downtown) and had a whopping 26 points at the break.

Joseph Jones had 9 of the Aggies’ 19 points in the first half, and Acie Law only had 4.

The second half began with starters Josh Carter and Dominique Kirk on the bench in favor of Marlon Pompey and Donald Sloan. Furthermore, 22 seconds into the second frame Kavaliauskas also found himself on the bench, he in favor of Bryan Davis.
It was very clear that if you were not going to play with the energy that Gillispie and his staff were going to demand then you were not going to see the floor after halftime.
In fact, defensive stalwart Dominique Kirk did not see the floor for the first 12 minutes of the second half. I thought that when he did come back he had great energy and really made a difference.

The Aggies’ biggest deficit of the day came with 3:20 left in the first frame when the Sooners had a 10 point lead at 26-16.

From that point through the first 5 minutes of the second half, the reenergized Aggies went on a 17-4 run to take a three point lead at 33-30.

The run in the first 5 minutes of the second frame was sparked by a dominating Joe Jones who scored 7 of the Aggies’ first 8 points out of the break.

When asked about the locker room at halftime, Acie said, “We knew we weren’t taking care of business. Coach got on us, but he didn’t really have to because we knew we weren’t really playing ‘Texas A&M’ basketball. We knew we were capable of playing much better.”

Gillispie leaned into the microphone after Acie’s statement and asked, “Did I raise my voice Acie?” The very wise Acie Law simply said, “Nope.”

The Sooners did, however, weather the storm and battled back to take a one point lead 38-37 with 9:48 left in the game.

After falling behind by 1, and before Nate Carter hit a three pointer with 7 seconds left, the Aggies then went on a 19-8 run fueled by none other than late-game-hero Acie Law.

In the final 15 minutes of the game, the Aggies scored 25 points and Acie himself had 16 of those. It was just another example of how Acie is not going to let other teams beat the Aggies on his account.

Joe finished the afternoon with 21 points and 9 rebounds, and Acie put up a VERY impressive 21 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.

Gillispie was also impressed in saying, “I think Acie's pretty good. It's obvious we want to get it to him as much as possible.”

I agree coach; he is “pretty good”.

Simply put, Acie and Joe were humongous on Saturday afternoon as they combined to score 42 of the Aggies’ 56 points. Aside from accounting for 75% of the team’s scoring production, the duo also combined to shoot 56% from the floor on 15-of-27 shooting.

The only negative thing you can say about Acie’s night was that he was 7-of-11 from the free throw line, which included missing the front end of two one-and-one opportunities. On free throws alone, Acie left 6 potential points on the floor, and fortunately it did not matter when things were all said and done.

Quick Hits
- Antanas Kavaliauskas continued to struggle a little bit. The senior big man only scored 5 points in 26 minutes of action; he did however manage to pull down 8 rebounds.

- Josh Carter again struggled to find opportunities to shoot the basketball. Carter hit his first shot from the floor (a three pointer) and then missed his next 4 shots. Josh finished with 3 points.

- I know Fran Fraschilla made a huge deal out of it on the TV broadcast, but the Aggies showed some different defensive looks in the second half on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies’ primary alternate set was a triangle-in-two which is a look that has two guys matched up man-on-man on the perimeter and the other three guys playing a “triangle zone” in the middle of the floor. The switch really confused the Sooners and allowed the Aggies to get back into the game.

- I thought the officiating was much better again on Saturday. The Aggies were called for 13 fouls and only put OU on the free throw line 9 times.

- OU guard David Godbold had a career day against the Aggies in scoring 20 points behind the strength of 5-of-7 from the three point line.

- Marlon Pompey did a pretty good job defensively on Saturday, but as is usually the case with Pompey he was terrible on the offensive end in missing three wide open looks.

- Freshman Donald Sloan continues to gain confidence game-over-game as the season wears on. Sloan did not light up the box score on Saturday, but the energy he brings to the floor is always well received. Sloan was again on the receiving end of a great ally-oop feed, this time from Acie Law.

- The defensive intensity A&M showed in the 2nd half was never more evident than when you look at the box score and see that the Sooners were 7-for-30 from the floor in the second half for 23%.

Looking Ahead
OK – Well, we have been talking about this big 6-game stretch as one that would define the Aggies’ season and through the first 5 games of that stretch you are now 4-1. (How in the heck did they lose to Tech at home? No really, I’m over it, I promise.)

You wrap up this oft-mentioned stretch in Stillwater on Wednesday night in a nationally televised game against Oklahoma State on ESPN2-HD at 8:00.

OSU has really been struggling as of late and has lost 4 of their last 5 games including an 11 point loss to Missouri in Stillwater on Saturday afternoon. (I am sure the Tigers’ win made Melvin Watkins happy).

That being said, the Cowboys still have two of the best players in the league on their roster in Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry. Either or both of those guys are good enough to put the Pokes in a position where they can beat anyone on any given night, especially at home.

OSU has gone from one of the hottest teams in the country to finding themselves squarely on the tournament bubble. A win over the Aggies will certainly boost their resume and in all likelihood put them back on the “in” side of that debate.

With their backs against the wall, do not for one second think that you are not going to get the Cowboys’ best effort on Wednesday night.

Going into Gallagher-Iba arena is one of the toughest tasks in all of college basketball, and the Aggies will certainly have their hands full on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Texas Tech Recap - 2

Game Recap

I keep trying to come up with a better word to describe what happened in Reed Arena on Tuesday night, but nothing seems to be more fitting than just being disappointed.

For the 2nd time in big 12 play this season the Aggies got beat, and for the second time it came at the hands of Bob Knight's Red Raiders.

Texas Tech star Jarrius Jackson hit a shot as the buzzer sounded only moments after Acie Law hit yet another clutch three pointer that tied the game at 75 with six seconds remaining.

Jackson took the ball the length of the floor and hit what basically was an uncontested look from about 9 feet away.

Jackson's bucket brought about the final score of 75-77 and sent home a sold-out Reed Arena crowd stunned after seeing the Aggies lose at home for only the second time in 22 games.

I think most of the blame tonight can be laid on a handful of things.

1.) Dominique Kirk. When Kirk was in the game he did a pretty good job in limiting Jackson (who finished with a game high 31 points). The problem was that Kirk could not stay on the floor. The junior guard only played 26 minutes as he was in foul trouble for most of the entire game. Kirk fouled out in the second half and finished with 0 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.

2.) Antanas Kavaliauskus. I still can not figure out how AK wound up with 18 points. AK played lost and confused most of the night. He turned the ball over 6 times (should have been 8 or 9 as he got away with two or three more terrible passes) and continuously got beat on the defensive end failing to provide sufficient rotation help as the Tech guards got to the rim with ease for nearly the entire second half. AK also fouled out in the second half.

3.) Free Throw shooting - The Aggies finished the game 17-of- 24 from the free throw line and missed the front end of two 1-and-1 opportunities in the first half. The Aggies missed 7 free throws on the night while the Raiders only missed 3. Giving away points at the free throw line is very frustrating.

4.) Josh Carter - Carter continued to be a no-show against the Red Raiders. In four career games against Tech, Carter is averaging only 6 points per game and is a combined 8-of-21 from the floor. This season Josh failed to score in their first match-up in Lubbock and scored only 5 points last night.

5.) Horrendous three point shooting - The Aggies only made 2 of 9 from deep last night. To make matters even worse, they basically put bookends on the game with their only two makes. Carter hit a three at the 14:29 mark of the first half and the Aggies did not hit another three until Acie's bucket to tie the game at 75 with 6 seconds left. Tech did a very good job of extending their defense on the perimeter and harassing the Aggies, but you need to be better than 2-for-9 if you want to win these games.

I guess adding to the disappointment is that another HUGE shot by Acie Law basically went all for naught.

Acie was super again on Tuesday night scoring 23 points on 8-of-14 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.

With the Aggies down three and less than 10 seconds on the clock, Acie got the ball off of a screen at the top of the key and let one fly that found the bottom of the net with only 6 seconds remaining.

It is too bad that we are instead talking about Jarrius Jackson being the hero for Tech and not another unbelievable bucket in a clutch situation from Acie.

Joe Jones was also efficient on the interior as he too scored 18 points, but his overall effectiveness and impact on the game was limited as he only saw 23 minutes of action.

While Joe was slightly better than AK on the defensive end, he too failed on many occasions to provide sufficient defensive help as the Tech guards made their way to the rim on numerous occasions in the 2nd half.

Gillispie commented on his team’s lack of defensive enthusiasm in saying, "We had guys trying to swipe at the ball instead of putting their bodies in the gap. If you do that, then you are going to get driven on."

I thought Donald Sloan played very well in his 19 minutes off the bench. Sloan finished with 8 points on 3-of-5 from the field. This included a perfectly executed backside ally-oop on a feed from Antanas Kavaliauskas.

Unfortunately for the good guys there was just too much Jarrius Jackson (31 points on 12-of-20 shooting) and Martin Zeno (19 points on 6-of-9 shooting). Jackson and Zeno put on a clinic in dribble-drive penetration as the Aggies failed to stop them all night long.OK – Let’s flip it around real quick and take a look at where the Aggies stand and what last night’s game means in the grand scheme of things.

Depending on what Kansas does tonight (they should win easily at Colorado) the Aggies will at worst be tied for the lead in the Big 12. Still a heck of a position to be in, but if you are going to make a run at the regular season title you will likely need a little bit of help.

That being said, the Aggies just need to go out over these last 5 games and take care of their business and let everything else take care of itself.

It all starts with your next two games on the road, at Oklahoma on Saturday (more below) and at Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Going to Norman and more so Stillwater is a tall order, and the Aggies will certainly be up against it.

The minute I say that, I will also tell you that any group of guys that can go into Allen Fieldhouse and beat Kansas can go into any building in the nation and come out with a win if they play their game.

Even if you go 3-2 over these last 5 games, you will still finish 12-4 in the Big 12 which will be a remarkable season and good enough to likely earn you the 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament.

The problem with going 3-2 over these last 5 is that it will mean you finished your last 6 games of the season with a 3-3 record which is not the direction you want to be heading going into postseason play.

OK - Sorry – I will stop getting ahead of myself. Let’s see what happens in Norman on Saturday afternoon and take it from there.

Quick Hits

- Most of your season long streaks ended last night.

- Tech shot 52% from the field, the first time in 36 games that the Aggies have allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50% against them. Last night ended the longest such streak in the nation.

- Tech was the first team to win at Reed Arena in the last 22 games.

- The Aggies were ahead by 7 points at the 12:33 mark when Red Raider coach Bob Knight got a technical foul for arguing with the officials. From that point forward, the Raiders outscored the Aggies 32-23.

- The Aggies are now 1-4 when ranked #6 in both polls. I guess 6 must be their unlucky number as all 4 of their losses this season have come when ranked #6.

- The Raiders hit 10 of their last 13 field goal attempts from the 11:29 mark to the end of the game. They also made 8 of their 10 free throw attempts over that same period.

- One stat I love to look at is “bucket-stop-bucket”, which is the number of times you score on back-to-back possessions and do not allow your opponent to score in-between. The Raiders went bucket-stop-bucket 8 times in the second half last night compared to the Aggies pulling it off 5 times. (Thanks Brandon!)

Looking Ahead

The Aggies travel to Norman on Saturday to take on Oklahoma at 2:30 on ABC.

The Sooners have very quietly compiled a 6-5 league mark but are coming off of a 58-51 loss against Iowa State in Ames last night.

In their first match-up, the Aggies were victorious by a score of 70-61 back on January 27th at Reed Arena.

Both teams will be looking to bounce back after disappointing losses last night and OU will certainly be looking for payback from their loss to the Aggies earlier in the season.

As was well documented around their first game this year, the Aggies have historically struggled against OU. The Aggies have only defeated the Sooners twice in 27 attempts.

The Sooners’ three most impressive league wins to this point were a 91-51 win over Baylor, a 75-61 win over Texas Tech and a 67-60 win over Oklahoma State. All three of those wins were at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Nebraska Recap

Game Recap

Well, for a couple of weeks now, we have pointed to this six-game stretch for the Aggies as one that would define their season.

You are now halfway through that stretch and you sit unblemished at 3-0.

The Aggies traveled north to Nebraska and avoided a stereotypical trap situation to return home with a 66-55 victory over the Cornhuskers on Saturday night.

The win over Nebraska was not overly flashy and was not going to make any national headlines, but anytime you earn a win by 11 points on the road in this league you will absolutely take it.

The Aggies were led by Josh Carter’s career-tying night where the sophomore Guard knocked down 8 three pointers (again)……

Carter finished with a game-high (and career high) 26 points and added 5 rebounds. Carter’s night came on 9-of-12 shooting which included 8-for-11 from behind the arc.

This is the third time this season that Josh has tied the school record for three point baskets made in a game.

The crazy thing is that Carter’s last basket came at the 12:45 mark of the second half.

I guess Doc Sadler finally decided to have someone guard him.

All kidding aside, it was about midway through the second frame that Sadler sent in Paul Verlander and told him to stick on Carter. No matter what defensive set the Huskers were in, Verlander was in Josh’s hip pocket.

From that point on, the only time Josh showed up in the box score was on one defensive rebound.

"How in the heck do you let Josh Carter get eight 3s?" Sadler noted after the game, "That's ridiculous."

I agree coach, but hey, thanks!

Acie Law was not his typical self, but the guard was still productive across the board in contributing 9 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.

Acie struggled a little bit from the floor in only making 3 of his 7 field goal attempts.

Dominique Kirk also struggled shooting the ball in going 3-of-11 from the field. That being said, Kirk did manage to score 10 points while pulling down 4 rebounds and adding 4 assists.
The only other guard to play in the game was Donald Sloan who only saw 3 minutes off the bench and made his only attempt scoring 2 points.

The big guys inside were fairly limited in their production due to the 1-3-1 zone that Doc Sadler and the Huskers threw at them. (The same zone that allowed Josh Carter to go bonkers from downtown).

There were not very many possessions for the Aggies where fewer than three guys wearing red and white were not crowding the lane.

"With the size they have, you are either going to give up perimeter shots or you're going to give up the inside game." Sadler said.

Combined, Joe and AK were able to put up some reasonable numbers, but it was not pretty, that is for certain.

Joe managed to score 11 points and pull down 6 rebounds while AK added 8 points and 11 rebounds.

AK really struggled from the field only making 4 of his 12 attempts.

Bryan Davis saw 6 minutes off the bench and did not score. Pompey also saw 13 minutes and he too did not score.

The Aggie’s defensive effort was much better on Saturday night as they held Nebraska to only 37.5% on 21-of-56 from the field.

The only two guys from Nebraska that had any success were Aleks Maric (15 points) and Ryan Anderson (18 points – all of which came in the first half).

Quick Hits

- The officials called 29 combined fouls in the entire game (compared with 43 total in the Texas game).

- Nebraska only shot 3 free throws on the night (they made 2).

- The two teams combined to shoot 15 free throws (compared with 74 in the Texas game).

- Josh Carter was named Big 12 co-player of the week last week.

- Brad Townsend from the Dallas Morning News wrote a great piece on Gillispie on Sunday; take the time to give it a read.

Looking Ahead

Payback will be in the air on Tuesday night when the Aggies host our friends from Lubbock.

The game is scheduled to tip at 6:00 and is televised nationally on ESPN2.

Texas Tech is coming in off of a double-overtime loss (91-93) in Stillwater on Saturday night. Since beating top 10 teams Kansas and Texas A&M in back-to-back games the Red Raiders have been on a downward spiral and have lost 5 in a row.

A Bob Knight coached team had not lost five in a row since 1972.

Here’s to hoping the Aggies make it 6 in a row on Tuesday night.

Aggie Hoops Report’s Big 12 Player of the Week

Josh Carter – Texas A&M

Carter had a monster week last week. Josh scored 25 points and grabbed a career high 10 rebounds in the Aggie’s 100-82 win over UT on Monday. Carter then came back and tied his school record (for the third time this year) with 8 three pointers on Saturday night as he scored 26 points against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a 66-55 win.

Also considered:
Mario Boggan – Oklahoma State. Boggan had a huge week last week averaging 27.5 points and 12.5 rebounds as OSU split their games in losing at Oklahoma on Wednesday and then defeating Texas Tech in double overtime on Saturday afternoon.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Nebraska Preview

#6 / 7 Texas A&M at Nebraska
Saturday February 10th
7:00 CST
FSN – Texas and Nebraska markets only

(Before we get to Saturday’s game, I do not know if you guys saw it or not, but legendary Aggie coach Shelby Metcalf passed away yesterday in College Station. Metcalf was the winningest coach in the history of the SWC and led the Aggies as their head coach for 27 seasons from 1963 to 1990.

Metcalf and Gillispie became very good friends in Gillispie’s three years in College Station, and Gillispie was instrumental in putting together the first annual Shelby Metcalf Classic this year to honor the former coach.

I am not old enough to remember or to have appreciated Metcalf when he was in his prime, but I certainly know that that he was beloved by many people throughout the game of basketball.)


The Aggies travel to Lincoln on Saturday night to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a game pitting Gillispie against another one of his good friends - - Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler.

Sadler was named head coach at Nebraska when former coach Barry Collier left in the offseason to take the AD post at Butler.

Doc Sadler came from UTEP, where he served as one of Gillispie’s assistants. Sadler was named the head coach of the Miners in 2004 when Gillispie left for A&M. Sadler has also served as an assistant under former OSU coach Eddie Sutton and former Texas Tech coach James Dickey.

OK – About the Cornhuskers. They are a funny team. They can look really good at times - - wins at Missouri and at Texas Tech and a one point home loss to Texas. They can also look really bad at times - - blowout losses to Kansas and at Oklahoma.

All of that said, they have been playing much better over their last couple of games since their embarrassing “big Monday” loss to Kansas. In that game they fell behind 39-6 early and gave up a 27-0 run to the Jayhawks.

Since then they have rebounded nicely by going on the road to beat both Missouri and Texas Tech in back-to-back games. Coming back home after a couple of road wins will have the Huskers feeling pretty good about themselves and I think they will come out with really good energy.

The Huskers are currently 14-8 overall and sit at 3-5 in the league which is only good enough for 8th place.

Look, the bottom line is that any win on the road in this league is going to be tough and you only have to work that much harder. I know that is a proverbial statement and we say it all the time, but I can not emphasize enough how important it is to steal as many games on the road as you can.

The above statement about going on the road becomes that much more important when you look at the Aggies’ remaining road games and you see places like Stillwater, Norman and Austin still to come on the schedule.

This game has also become that much more important so that you do not undo all of the goodwill you are receiving from the national media and the big “48 hours” you had last Saturday and Monday with the wins at Kansas and against Texas.

Finally, you should all also be very happy that the Rockets, Spurs, Mavericks and Stars are all off on Saturday night because the game will be broadcast on FSN in all Texas markets.
There you have it – let’s take a quick look at the matchups.

Doc Sadler has had a little bit of a rotating door at the back end of his starting lineup using multiple combinations all season long. He seems to have finally settled on four guys that have all started the last three games with the 5th position being any one of four guys.

Considering the fact that the Huskers are 2-1 over their last three games I would expect to see those 4 in the lineup again on Saturday but who knows.

The funny thing about this year’s Nebraska team is that they have one of the only true centers in the league and then a boat load of guards, most of whom are very small.

Aggie coach Billy Gillispie shares a friendly moment with Acie Law on Monday night. (AP/Paul Zoeller)The anchor of Sadler’s group is 6’11” Aleks Maric, a 270 pound junior who originally hails from Sydney, Australia. Maric is one of the top players in the league and is averaging almost 17 points and 8 rebounds per game.

I would look for Joe, AK, Davis and Pompey to pound on Maric all night. I am not the smartest guy around, but I doubt Maric will respond very well to the Aggies pressure on the interior.

After Maric, the next 7 guys in the Nebraska rotation are all guards, none of whom are taller than 6’4”.

I do not know what Sadler will do in order to offset the size of the Aggies’ frontline inside. He has a couple of 6’7” guys on his roster but neither of them ever plays. There is also 6’8” freshman Chris Balham who may see more than his per-game average of 5 minutes.

If Sadler has someone 6’3” or 6’4” matched up on either AK or Joe, they should have a heyday inside.

I guess Sadler could throw a zone at the Aggies and collapse multiple guys inside in an effort to slow down the Aggies’ big guys inside, but then you are selling out to the perimeter and I am not sure that is a good idea either.

The primary ball handling duties for the Huskers will rest with Charles Richardson Jr., a 5’9” senior who averages 8.1 points and 5.7 assists per game.

I would look for Acie and Richardson to go head-to-head on most possessions, and Acie should be able to dominate Richardson if for no other reason than on size alone.

Nebraska’s best perimeter shooter is 6’4” freshman Ryan Anderson who averages 10.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting a salty 47.9% behind the arc.

I would look for Kirk to pick up Anderson in an effort to limit his touches on the outside.

The final guard that is a constant in Sadler’s lineup is Marcus Perry, a 6’2” senior that adds 9.3 points per game.

Perry is an interesting player. He has played in 18 games and logged 426 minutes this season. In those 426 minutes he has only found his way to the free throw line 10 times.

Even better, he has made all 10 attempts. Needless to say, I do not think Marcus is a very aggressive player while on offense.

Depending on who Sadler trots out on Saturday, I would probably look for either AK or Joe (whoever is not on Maric) to pick up Perry.

The 5th starter and most of the bench minutes will likely come from a group of the following:

Jay-R Strowbridge a 6’0” freshman who is averaging 4 points and 16 minutes per game. He is not like J.R. from the TV show Dallas; this is Jay-R, the point guard from Nebraska.

Sek Henry a 6’3” freshman guard who chips in 7.3 points per game while averaging 24.5 minutes per night. Henry’s best game came back in December when he scored 20 in a Nebraska win at Houston.

Jamel White is a sophomore who clocks in at 6’3”. White is their most consistent scoring threat off the bench (or as the 5th starter) and averages 9.6 points per game. White has scored in double digits 9 times this season.

Finally we have Paul Velander a 6’2” sophomore who averages just less than 12 minutes per game. Velander averages 3.7 points per contest.

I think you will primarily see Josh Carter pick up whoever is on the court out of that group, but obviously any of the Aggie guards can match up pretty favorably with the guys in the Nebraska backcourt.

OK – There you have it – a quick look at the Cornhuskers and hopefully a better idea of what to expect on Saturday night.

The Aggie Hoops Report’s Game Outcome Prediction -

Texas A&M Aggies – 74
Nebraksa Cornhuskers - 61

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Texas Recap

Game Recap

Well – It was just another big game for the Aggies, and it was just another big win.

The Aggies hung a cool hundred on the Longhorns last night in prevailing 100-82 before a record crowd of 13,196 at Reed Arena.

It was as about as unconventional of a game as we have maybe ever seen during the Billy Gillispie era.

The Aggies scored 100 points for only the 3rd time in the Gillispie era, and the 82 points scored by Texas was only the 3rd time anyone has put up 82+ on them (Texas and Kansas each scored 83 last season).

I am not sure if the most surprising thing is that the Aggies nearly set new Gillispie-era highs for points scored and points allowed in the same game or the furious pace at which they were able to play only 48 hours after leaving it all on the floor in the win at KU.

Acie mentioned how tough the bounce back was in saying, “"After the Kansas game we laid it all on the line, we had guys laying down in exhaustion in the locker room. We were so tired. But to come back home and get the 'W' in front of all these fans means a lot to us."

Gillispie also touched on it briefly, “We found a way to be ready to rock-n-roll. I don't know if it gets any tougher than that."

The first half began with the Aggies coming out on a furious pace jumping out to a 21-7 lead from the opening tip through the first 5+ minutes of the game.

The run was set up behind amazing balance as the Aggies not only knocked down a few shots from behind the arc, they also got a couple of great looks on the inside from AK, Joe and Josh Carter breaking to the basket.

The balance of the first half saw the Aggies commit a foul on nearly every possession which led to a TON of free-throws for our friends from Austin.

The Aggies were called for an absurd 16 fouls in the first half which led to 21 Longhorn free-throws (of which they made 20).

The most amazing statistic from the first half was that UT only made 8 field-goals (on 25 attempts – 32%), but still managed to put up 40 points before the break.

Ed Hightower and Steve Welmer (two officials who routinely work final four games) completely lost control of the game in the first half as there were a combined 27 fouls called in the first 20 minutes. That is 1.35 fouls per every minute of game time.

There were also 64 possessions combined between the two teams in the first period which means that every 2.3 possessions a foul was called. That is nearly a foul on every other possession. That is absurd; no game should ever be called that tight.
All of that being said, the Aggies knocked down 8 of their 12 three point attempts in the first half to hang on to a 45-40 lead at the break.

The second half saw Kavaliauskas exert himself inside and score the first 6 points for the Aggies.

Not to be outdone, Damion James and Kevin Durant got going for UT and the duo was able to tie the score at 51 apiece.

Acie Law and Josh Carter combined to bang-bang-bang and immediately push the lead back to 6 at 57-51.

Kevin Durant, showing just how dominant he can be, then scored the game’s next 7 points in a 1:08 stretch to put the Longhorns ahead by one at 58-57.

Over the next 7 minutes the teams continued to trade baskets (and have tons of fouls called on both teams). Two A.J. Abrams’ free throws pulled UT back to within 3 at 76-73 with 7:29 remaining.

40 seconds later Dominique Kirk would foul out, and 32 seconds after that Joe Jones would foul out as well.

At this point we saw two freshmen come in on a big stage and more-or-less grow up before our eyes. Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis both played their most important minutes of the season and both guys were HUGE in what was an amazing Aggie rally to close out the game.

From the 76-73 mark, the Aggies went on a 24-9 run to close out the game led by Josh Carter, Davis and Sloan.

“Those three guys (Davis, Sloan, and Carter) grew up a lot. That's what I believe Josh can be on a daily basis.” Said Gillispie.

Josh Carter finally showed the aggressive style we have seen flashes of in his nearly two years in an Aggie uniform. Josh was nothing short of spectacular on Monday night in scoring 24 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.

Davis (14 minutes) and Sloan (23 minutes) combined to account for 19 points and 8 rebounds.

I think what you are starting to see with Davis and Sloan is very reminiscent of what we saw with Carter and Kavaliauskas last season.

You are seeing two guys who have shown flashes of greatness but that are being brought along at a slower pace than we the fans would like to see. If you think about how much Josh and AK grew up last season imagine if you can even find something at all similar with Davis and Sloan.

Real quick lets talk about Acie Law.

The senior guard continues to amaze night after night. Acie had 21 points and a school record 15 assists last night and of those 15 assists, 7 of them were on three point baskets. That means Acie had a hand in 58 of the Aggies 100 points last night. Unbelievable.

Gillispie agreed in saying, “We have a guy out there that plays point guard for us. So far he's decided that he is not going to let us loose. We have a senior guard playing with a hunger. He is putting us on his shoulders no matter what the circumstance is.”

I would also be remiss if I did not mention AK and his 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Quick Hits

- A&M’s 20-3 start is the best ever in the history of the school.

- A&M has won 20 games in three consecutive seasons for the first time ever.

- The two teams combined for 74 free throw attempts and 53 fouls (please similar rhetoric about the officials above).

- A&M has held 34 straight opponents to under 50% from the field.

- DeAndre Jordan and BJ Holmes were at the game again.

- Reggie McNeal was also at the game, no word on whether or not he (or Chris Henry) got arrested last night.

- Josh Carter’s 24 and 10 were his first career double-double.

Looking Ahead

The Aggies travel to Lincoln on Saturday night to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers at 7:00 pm.

Nebraska is coming off a controversial win (61-59) over Texas Tech on Saturday night.

Doc Sadler is in his first year at Nebraska and he is who took over at UTEP when Gillispie left for A&M. Sadler has a streaky team, and they can be very tough at home. The Aggies will certainly need to stay focused to avoid a letdown.

I do not know that I will put out a full preview before Saturday, but I will certainly send you guys a note with a few things to watch for before we head home on Friday.

For planning purposes, the game is on FSN in the state of Texas (I know it is on via all outlets in Houston, I am not sure yet about Dallas and San Antonio/Austin.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Texas Preview

#7 Texas A&M vs. #25 Texas
Monday February 5th
8:00 CST

Line – Texas A&M -7.5

OK – As we mentioned yesterday, you are now 1-0 in this 6 game stretch that will define your season.

Game 2 is also no small task as the Texas Longhorns come to College Station 48 short hours after the Aggies' dramatic win in Lawrence on Saturday night.

While the Aggies are coming in on cloud 9, the Longhorns are coming off of a disappointing home loss to red-hot K-State on Saturday afternoon.

I think the main thing you are going to need to look at is whether or not Gillispie can get the guys to regroup and focus in a quick turnaround situation. I think we have a couple of examples that we can point to that might make you feel better.

First, last year's game at Texas Tech. Three days after Acie Law hit “The Shot” against Texas last year; the Aggies went into Lubbock and put a beatdown on the Raiders by a final score of 75-59. Second, after last year’s unprecedented win over Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA tournament the Aggies bounced back 48 hours later and went toe-to-toe with LSU (damn you Darrel Mitchell).

I think when it gets down to it, if you can not get back up and ready to play in that atmosphere tonight, you are in the game for the wrong reason. My guess is that once the ball goes up and Reed starts rocking that the guys will have no problem finding the energy they will need to put forth maximum effort.

Alright – Let’s break it down.

I am not going to spend much time on Mr. Durant. Just know that the guy is a freak and one of the most electrifying talents to play college basketball in quite some time.

One other thing that stands out about Rick Barnes’ group is that they typically start a three guard / two forward set with limited size.

They also have a very thin bench and only have two guys coming off the bench that average double digit minutes.

Backcourt Match-up
The Texas backcourt is very small but is very quick, and if they get hot they can knock down a ton of shots from the perimeter.

D.J. Augustin is a 5’11” freshman guard from New Orleans who will be the primary ball handler for the Longhorns. Augustin is averaging 13 points and 7 assists per game.

If Kevin Durant were not receiving all of the publicity he has to this point, you would have heard much more about Augustin. He is no longer playing like a freshman and is probably one of the best 10 or 15 freshmen in the country.
Augustin is at his best when going to the basket.

I would look for Acie Law to open up on Augustin and try to limit his looks off the dribble. You will also see Dominique Kirk pick up on Augustin at times as well.

The only holdover of substance from last year’s UT group is sophomore A.J. Abrams, a 5’10” guard from Round Rock. Abrams is the Longhorns' primary three point threat out of the backcourt as he knocks down nearly 45% of his looks from deep. I think you will primarily see Kirk pick up Abrams and try to limit his looks from beyond the arc. Abrams is averaging 15.7 points per game.

Rounding out the UT backcourt is another freshman, 6’2” Justin Mason. Mason is basically a role player at this point and only looks to shoot the ball between 6 and 8 times per game.

Mason is also the one guy who Barnes will send to the boards in an effort to pull down a few offensive rebounds. He will send Augustin and Abrams back to slow down the opposition's transition game and send Mason to the rack.

I would look for Josh Carter to match up with Mason.

The three UT guards are all very nice players, but I will take Law, Kirk and Carter over Augustin, Abrams and Mason.

Also worth nothing from the A&M game release – (Thanks for the link Jerry!) - In the last five minutes of conference games, Law has averaged 7.4 points while A&M’s opponents have averaged a total of 7.3 points. Law has made 68.2 percent from the field, 75.0 percent from three-point range and 83.9 percent from the free throw line in the final five minutes in league play.

Moderate Edge for the Aggies +2

Frontcourt Match-up
As we said above, I could go on and on about Kevin Durant, but I won’t. He’s freaking awesome, that’s all there is to it.

I do not know how Gillispie will try to slow him down. Neither does Acie Law apparently.

"I really enjoy watching him play, I'll tell you the truth," Law said. "It's going to be tough for us to defend him. We're going to have to put all five on him. I really have no idea of how we're going to do it.”

Classic. He sounds just like Gillispie with his aw-shucks, “I have no idea how we won......” “We’re just lucky to be in the game with them……” “They are a great team……”

All kidding aside, I think that you will see a combination of Jones and Kavaliauskas on Durant with tons of switching help and rotation help in an effort to slow him down.

The other post player for UT is 6’7” freshman Damion James. James was a much heralded recruit who nearly wound up at A&M but ultimately chose UT after getting out of his Oklahoma commitment.

James came in with a ton of hype and has yet to live up to his billing. He has found a living playing defense and hitting the boards. James is averaging 7 points and 7 rebounds per game.

I am going to flip around the frontcourt match-up a little bit here.

Instead of asking the question, “How are the Aggies going to slow down the UT forwards?” I would like to ask the question, “How are the Longhorns going to slow down the Aggie forwards?”

Both Kavaliauskas and Jones have a substantial size advantage on Durant and James. There is no doubt that Durant and James are more athletic, but I do not think they can bang inside with Joe and AK and get away with it.

You have to give an edge here to the Longhorns simply on Durant alone, but if you can push him back down inside I think you can do some things against him on the offensive end.

Minor Edge for the Longhorns +1

Bench Match-up
The bench matchup is going to set these two groups apart.

Rick Barnes only has two or three guys he can call on off the bench, and none of them have much more than “stop gap” ability.

Conner Atchley is a 6’9” reserve forward who comes in and grabs a few rebounds. He will split minutes with Damion James. Atchley is basically the only guy that plays meaningful minutes off the UT bench.

Matt Hill and Dexter Pitman are also big guys that come off the bench but are non-impactual.

The only guard that comes off the bench is 6’1” junior J.D. Lewis who is nothing beyond giving a break to one of the three starters.

The way Sloan, Davis and Pompey continue to play, I would look for them to continue to make contributions on a regular basis. I failed to mention it in the KU Recap, but I thought both Sloan and Davis played GREAT at times on Saturday night.

Major Edge for the Aggies +3

I do not think there is much here in the intangibles section beyond UT playing so many true freshmen in a hostile environment. Reed Arena should be rocking tonight, and I would suspect that has to be worth at least a little edge for the Aggies. Texas has been to Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Lubbock and Villanova, so going on the road for them is old hat at this point.

I think the bigger question here is which UT road team are you going to see? The one that won in Lubbock and played so well in Stillwater and Knoxville or the one that played so poorly in Lincoln and Philadelphia?

Minor Edge for the Aggies +1

Well – as usual it should be a hot time tonight – be sure to check it out on ESPN at 8:00!

The Aggie Hoops Report’s Game Outcome Prediction -

Texas Longhorns – 62
Texas A&M Aggies - 67

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Kansas Recap

Game Recap

Well – I was going to start working on this last night, but I figured I better go back and get some sleep for a couple of reasons. One, I just wanted to make sure what we had all just witnessed was in-fact true, and two, I did not want to be overly emotional about what I was going to write.

Even this morning I am still not sure what is more surprising, the fact that the Aggies went into Lawrence and beat Kansas by a final score of 69-66 or the manner in which they were able to pull off the improbable win.

The Aggies were on the biggest stage in what we said was maybe their biggest regular season game ever, and I think we are all probably still a little surprised at what unfolded last night.

I loved hearing Vitale hype up Acie immediately after the senior hit one of the most cold-blooded three point shots you will ever see. “Ohhhhh ohhhhh is he living up to his reputation!!! Ohhhhhh Mr. Clutch!!!.” Screamed Vitale, “What about Law? What about Law? Is he living up to all of his numbers? Phenomenal. Ohhhhh. He wants the ball. His game just goes up to another level. Forget about knuckleball, it does not matter, it’s down, it’s coming out of bottom of the net!”

I’ve watched that shot a dozen times now, and I still can not stop laughing. Simply amazing.

I told a bunch of you guys last night that if you can find me a more clutch player than Acie Law in all of college basketball then I would love to have that conversation.

Go back to the Texas game last year. Go back to the LSU game in the 2nd round of the tournament. Go back to the Baylor game this year. Go back to the OU game this year. Now look at the Kansas game from last night.

What this kid does late in games is undeniable. What this kid does late in games is unbelievable.

While Antoine Wright may be viewed as the guy that started it all for this generation of Aggie Basketball fans, I do not think there is a more important player to ever wear the Maroon and White than Acie Law.

Acie’s impact on this team and this program can not be underestimated.

OK – About last night.

I thought that for the first 18 minutes of the first half the Aggies did everything they needed to do in order to put themselves in a position where they would have a chance to win the game.

They were making a few baskets on the offensive end. They were playing great defense. They were forcing Kansas into a bunch of turnovers. They were just hanging around which is all you needed to do.

Acie hit a couple of free throws to tie the game at 30 with 98 seconds left before the break.

It was at this point that KU went on a big momentum kick into the half. The Aggies got very sloppy with the ball and could not get set on the offensive end for 3 or 4 straight possessions.

All the while, Kansas rattled off 5 straight points to go into the half with all of the momentum and a 35-30 halftime lead.

A huge deal was made about it all night on the TV broadcast, but the Aggies got whipped (to use one of Gillispie’s favorite words) on the boards all night. At the break, the Jayhawks had outrebounded the Aggies 21-13 including a dominating 11-to-4 on the offensive glass.

I thought the A&M guards did a great job on Brandon Rush in holding the super sophomore to only 7 first half points on 2-of-6 shooting.

The one guy that was able to get loose on the Aggies, not only in the first half but the entire game, was KU freshman guard Sherron Collins who had 8 points at the break. (Acie also had 8 at the half)

The second half came about and saw Kansas push their lead to between 8 and 9 points for most of the first 10 minutes of the second frame.

The only reason the Aggies were able to hang around was behind the strength of their guards. Acie hit a couple of big baskets followed by a Josh carter three that cut the Kansas deficit to 46-40.

The Aggies actually climbed back to within 5 when Dominique Kirk hit a three pointer at the 12:03 mark that cut the KU lead to 50-45.

The momentum was short lived however because Sherron Collins came back down 16 seconds later and drilled a three of his own that pushed the KU lead back to 8 points at 53-45.

Over the next three minutes KU pushed their lead to the largest of the night (11 points) at 57-46 when Russell Robinson drilled a floater in the lane with 9:54 remaining.

It was at this point in the broadcast that Vitale said “Danger time. Danger time for Texas A&M.”

Shortly after, an improbable series of events took place over the next 5 possessions.

- Joe Jones picked up his 4th foul at the 9:14 mark. For some reason Gillispie left him in the game.

- Darrell Arthur tripped in the lane and turned the ball over.

- Joe Jones hit a three pointer (his second of the night) that touched nothing but the bottom of the net.

- Robinson botched an alley-oop attempt to Arthur. Turnover Kansas.

- Joe set a great screen that sprung Josh Carter open in the corner for a three pointer that hit the rim, the top of the glass and then managed to fall through the basket.

Just like that you looked up and an eleven point lead was immediately cut to only five at 57-52 at the 8:19 mark.

Right before that sequence of events I sent a text to a few of you guys that said, “We’ll find out right now whether or not this group has any guts.”

When they cut it to 5, I started thinking – wow – I guess they are tougher than I figured.

The next two baskets of the game were a three pointer by Sherron Collins and a two point basket by Sasha Kaun that almost immediately pushed the Kansas lead back to 10 points.

It was at this point that I thought, ok, well, maybe not. When the KU lead went right back to 10 points, you almost got the feeling that you were just hoping they would keep it respectable and not get blown out over the last 6+ minutes of the game.

Well, then something unbelievable happened.

The Aggies closed out the final 6 minutes of the game with a 17-4 run led by the amazing play of Acie Law.

Acie scored 10 of the Aggies’ final 17 points including a three pointer in the corner that will forever be remembered by Aggie basketball fans.

While everyone will certainly remember Acie’s shot – the two plays before that were just as big, if not bigger, than Acie’s play.

The first of those was an “and one” that Acie created by taking Brandon Rush off the dribble with his right hand cutting into the lane. Rush, in an attempt to recover, fouled Acie as he let the shot go. The basket fell, and Acie hit the subsequent free throw to cut the KU lead to three points.

On the next Aggie possession, Joe set a screen for Acie and rolled out to the three point line and let his fourth three pointer of the night fly. Joe missed the shot horribly and as the ball clanked off the backboard Kavaliauskas got great position inside of three Jayhawks and grabbed the offensive rebound. AK went right back up with the ball, and he too was fouled in the lane, this time by Julian Wright.

AK also hit his free throw converting the old-fashioned three point play that tied the game at 64.

Julian Wright hit a floater in the lane to put Kansas up 64-66. From that point the table was set for Acie’s heroics.

Down 64-66, Acie got the ball on an inbounds pass and was one-on-one with Brandon Rush on the right wing. Acie took a hard jab-step at Rush and forced him back on his heels. Acie’s next move was right over the top with a three that ripped the hearts out of the Kansas Jayhawks and left Allen Fieldhouse full of 16,000 stunned fans.

The kid is one of the most clutch players in the game and Brandon rush agrees.

“I didn’t think he’d shoot it,” Rush said. “I thought he’d drive me. He hadn’t made one (a three pointer) all day. I was laying off a bit. They say he’s the best clutch player in the league, he proved it there.”

It should also be noted that Acie’s free throws that set the final score at 69-66 were set up by a great recovery defensive rebound by Marlon Pompey.
Saturday night was an awesome night and one that should not be soon forgotten.

The biggest challenge now is whether or not the good guys can regroup in time to get ready for the “Kevin Durant’s” on Monday night.

Quick Hits

- ESPN’s Andy Katz wrote a good piece after the game. Check it out if you have a few extra minutes.

- Kavaliauskas was for the most part non-existent. He finished with 7 points and 3 rebounds.

- Joe Jones was for the most part also non-existent. He finished with 10 points and 3 rebounds. That being said, Joe’s two three point baskets were both huge and kept the Aggies in the game.

- Josh Carter hit three huge baskets from behind the arc.

- The Aggies held Kansas to 42.1% shooting on the night including only 4-of-12 from deep.

- The Aggies forced Kansas into 16 turnovers.

- If you missed the ABC program “Free Ticket: Inside College Basketball” on Saturday you can watch a replay at 2:00pm on February 7th on ESPN2. You can also catch part two featuring the Aggies next Saturday at 2:00 on ABC. I thought they did a great job with the show, and it is certainly worth checking out if you get the chance. Be sure to set your DVR.

- Don’t look now but K-State has won 6 in a row and is tied for 2nd in the Big 12 at 6-2.

Looking Ahead

OK – You are now 1-0 in this key 6 game stretch and have a huge “bounce back” situation on Monday night when Rick Barnes brings Kevin Durant and the rest of the Longhorns to College Station.

Acie even mentioned it in saying, "This is special. It's one of the biggest victories. We'll see how we handle it on Monday, but this one feels really, really good." Don’t rest on it too long kid…..

The game is on ESPN-HD at 8:00 on Monday night.

Dick Vitale and Dan Shulman will be back behind the microphones calling the action. After what they saw on Saturday night and Kevin Durant being in the building, it should be quite the spectacle.

I will try to have a full preview out tomorrow.

Aggie Hoops Report’s Big 12 Player of the Week

Acie Law – Texas A&M
Acie was spectacular on Satrurday in the Aggies stunning win over Kansas. The senior point guard had 23 points and 7 assists on Saturday. On Wednesday night in College Station Law added 13 points and 7 rebounds in the Aggies 73-49 win over Iowa State.

Also considered:
Kevin Durant – Texas. Durant was sick on Wednesday in Lubbock going for 37 points and tied a big 12 record with 23 rebounds. He also added 32 points and 9 rebounds on Saturday vs. Kansas State in a game in which the Longhorns lost 73-72.

Call me a homer in going with Law, but I’ll take Acie and his gutsy effort on the road at Kansas over Durant’s gaudy numbers in a home loss over K-State. Said another way, I think wins are more important than production. I’m sure the media will go with Durant on Monday and he will certainly deserve the award again.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Kansas Preview

#8/#10 Texas A&M vs. #6 Kansas Preview

Saturday, February 3rd
8:00 CST – ESPN-HD
Line – Kansas by 7

Well - - This is why we watch.

Games like this are what make being a sports fan so exciting - - the thrills of watching your team go to battle against the very best - - getting too high with the highs and too low with the lows.

……as Jim McKay would so eloquently put it – The Thrill of Victory and The Agony of Defeat.

The Texas Aggies play in what is easily their biggest regular season game in the past 10 years and quite possibly the biggest regular season game in the history of the school.
Going into famed Allen Fieldhouse to face the Kansas Jayhawks is no easy task, and the Aggies will certainly be up against it on Saturday night.

The entire day should be a lot of fun for us, the fans, as ESPN’s basketball roadshow “College Gameday” will be broadcasting live from Lawrence at 10:00 am and 7:00 pm.

That evening Dick Vitale will be behind the microphone with Dan Shulman to call the action on ESPN-HD at 8:00. Love him or hate him, you can not deny the publicity that Vitale can bring for your program.

Speaking of publicity, the Aggies will be receiving TONS of coverage over the next few days as you have the circus in Lawrence all day on Saturday and then you return home 48 hours later to take on Texas on ESPN’s Big Monday (Vitale again).

OK – Let’s breakdown this matchup.

The first thing you need to know about Kansas is that they are big, tall, strong, fast and love to run.

They are stacked with McDonald’s All-Americans and are a very athletic group of guys.

They are at their best when they get out and run and Bill Self has designed this team to fit that style of play. In order to have any kind of chance on Saturday night the Aggies are going to have to get KU out of their comfort zone and disrupt their rhythm, which is easier said than done.

I would suspect to see A&M try quite a few things to slow the game down including quite a bit of full court press, a few mid-court trapping defensive schemes, and play at a slower pace on offense when A&M has the rock.

Simply put, if you can find a way to force Kansas into their half court sets, you can have a chance to steal this game.

The other thing to keep an eye on is the pace at which Kansas is putting up points. A&M is going to have to keep the KU tally in the mid-to-low 60’s to have a real shot.

I am not saying A&M must avoid getting in a shootout with these guys, I am just saying it is not their best chance of winning this game.

Backcourt Match-up

When looking at the Kansas guards, you must start with sophomore Brandon Rush. The 6’6” swingman is one of the best players in the Big 12 and is an elite athlete that can attack you from numerous spots on the floor.

Rush is averaging 14.3 points and 6 rebounds per game. Rush can knockdown his jumper from nearly anywhere on the floor (41% from behind the arc and 43% overall), but he is also electric when flying to the rim.

I am not sure what Gillispie will do in an effort to limit Rush on Saturday night.

Do you go with the bigger guy who is not quite as adept on the defensive end in Josh Carter? Do you go with the smaller guy who is an elite defender in Dominique Kirk?

My guess is that you will see DK on Rush to start the game.

While Rush is not considered a great defender, I think his size alone may give Josh Carter a few problems on the perimeter.

Primary ball handling duties for the Jayhawks rests with 6’1” junior Russell Robinson.

Robinson is an up-tempo guy who sets the frantic pace at which KU prefers to play. Robinson is averaging just over 4.5 assists per game wile also chipping in nearly 7 points. I would look for Acie to pick up Robinson in most sets.

The flipside of this matchup is where the Aggies will have the best advantage in the backcourt. Acie should be able to take advantage of his size and strength to make some good things happen against Robinson.

Rounding out the KU backcourt is 6’1” Mario Chalmers. The junior from Anchorage, Alaska is the secondary scoring threat out of the Kansas backcourt. Chalmers is only averaging 11.8 points per game, but if he gets hot he can easily put up 20+.

Whoever is not on Rush (either Carter or Kirk) will pick up Chalmers.

Advantage – Minor Edge for the Jayhawks (+1)

Frontcourt Match-up

Kansas’ frontline is somewhat similar to that of the Aggies. Both teams primarily play 3 guys on the inside. Both teams have a Euro that starts and plays meaningful minutes. Both teams have a very athletic power forward who is the team’s second leading scorer…..

The biggest difference and what is going to separate the groups is going to be the “next guy” for Kansas - Darrell Arthur, the 6’9” freshman from Dallas who comes off the bench for KU.

“DA” as they call him is a true difference maker, even as a true freshman – we’ll touch on him more in the Bench section.

Bill Self will likely start the 6’11” Sasha Kaun who originally hails from Russia. Kaun is not a true force on the offensive end, but his size on the inside allows Kansas to use him to set up plays designed to get the other guys on the floor involved.

His size also is his biggest strength on the defensive end as well.

I suspect Kaun will match up on Kavaliauskas, and I would look for Gillispie to run quite a few sets trying to draw Kaun out of the paint.

Joining Kaun on the inside for KU is 6’8” sophomore Julian Wright. Wright is much more athletic than Kaun and is a very solid power forward. He and Joe match-up very well with each other on the inside and their games are very similar. Wright is averaging over 11 points and nearly 8 boards per game.

Advantage – Push (+/- 0)

Bench Match-up

Both Gillispie and Self play a primary rotation of 7 guys in most games.

The two guys who come off the bench for Kansas are the before-mentioned Darrell Arthur and 5’11” back-up point guard Sherron Collins.

Arthur is going to be a major player for Kansas in the next couple of years, and he is a serious force coming off the bench.

“DA” has made a handful of starts this season (7 out of 22 games) and is averaging nearly 21 minutes per game. Arthur is averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds per contest.

Sherron Collins is not a major threat, but he is a very serviceable backup. He also averages over 20 minutes per game and is Kansas’ best three point shooter making 44% of his shots from downtown while averaging 9 points per game.

Gillispie will continue to rely primarily on Marlon Pompey for help on the inside and Donald Sloan to help in the backcourt.

Sloan and Collins, both of whom are freshman, are for the most part comparable.

Arthur and Pompey are not comparable. That is all I have to say about that [/Forest Gump].

Advantage – Minor Edge for the Jayhawks (+1)

Coaching Match-Up

Both Self and Gillispie are cut from the same cloth. Gillispie was an assistant under Self at both Tulsa and Illinois before he took off to be the head coach UTEP in 2002.

The two are such good friends that they still talk 3+ times per week.
What Gillispie has done at A&M is nothing short of a miracle, but Self, who cut his teeth primarily under Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State, has a slight leg up in this department if for no other reason than the fact that he has been a head coach for 13 years and Gillispie for 5.

Advantage – Minor Edge for the Jayhawks (+1)


Going to Allen Fieldhouse to play KU is a major feat for any group of guys, let alone one that is looking for their first signature road win of the season. I am also sure that you guys have seen the few articles this week that mentioned the fact that since the league was formed in 1996-1997, the Big 12 south is 0-31 at Allen Fieldhouse. Let’s hope that trend is broken on Saturday night!

As we have mentioned here plenty of times, both of these groups have played in enough big games in their careers to not make experience much of a factor for either group.

Advantage – Minor Edge for the Jayhawks (+1)

The Aggie Hoops Report’s Game Outcome Prediction -

Texas A&M Aggies – 67
Kansas Jayhawks - 71

This should be the game of the year in the Big 12 – Enjoy it!!!!


Carry on.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Iowa State Recap

Game Recap

Well, last night was as methodical, fundamental and as business-like as you could have ever hoped to see from the Aggies. They got on top of the Cyclones early and often en route to a dominating 73-49 victory.

From the opening tip they came out and executed to perfection for the first 8 minutes of the game. Behind 10 early points from Joe Jones (including a nasty backside dunk on a great feed from Acie Law), the Aggies jumped out to a quick 23-8 lead. Their execution on both ends of the floor was as sharp and as crisp as we have seen all year.

The difference between how the team started against Oklahoma relative to their start against Iowa State was night and day.

It was very evident that Gillispie had his boys ready to go and did everything in his power to have them focused and ready to play against Iowa State and only Iowa State.

When asked if this is what his team needed in order to get ready for Kansas, Gillispie said, “We needed this so that we can have a chance to beat Iowa State. That's the most important thing. If you are an immature team, this is the perfect trap game. I'm proud of the team because of the way they approached the game."

This was the first time in quite a few games that Coach has sounded so positive and upbeat after a game – their effort all night long was that good.

OK – real quick – a couple more things that stood out from the game.

From the point where the Aggies got out to their 23-8 lead, they went stagnant for a spell where neither team scored for just over 4 minutes. Joe Jones broke the scoring drought to put the Aggies up by 17 at 25-8.

From that point on, the Cyclones finally settled in to a little bit of a rhythm, and the teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half. As the two groups headed to the locker rooms, the game stood at 39-23 Aggies.

The only other thing that stood out in the first half was Josh Carter knocking down a couple of 3 pointers. Josh looked much better again last night and was a bit more assertive in mixing in both some looks from the outside and taking the ball to the basket off the dribble. All of that said, I still wish Josh would shoot it more than 6 times a game.

The second half was rather uneventful outside of continued solid play from the Aggies. Their continued sharp play on both ends of the floor saw them push their lead to as many as 29 points at 70-41.

The only real thing that stood out in the second frame, besides the fact that 18 guys saw time last night, was that it was very clear Gillispie was working on a couple of different things in what I assume was continued preparation for Saturday night.

For example, when you are up 21 points with 11 minutes left against a group from Iowa State that is clearly overmatched, why would you all of the sudden start about 5 possessions in a row where you run a full court trapping press with your starters in the game?

There was also about a three minute stretch in the second half where he was working with Jones, Kavaliauskas and Davis all in the game at the same time. I wonder if we will see a similar set on Saturday night in an effort to match up with Kansas’ big men on the interior.

It might have all just been coincidence, but I found it intriguing at a minimum.

The other aside from the blowout was that no starter played more than 30 minutes, so it was good to see them get in, handle their business, and not have to work overly hard in getting there.

With regards to other individual performances beyond Joe’s big night (21 points 5 rebounds), I thought the five starters all played very very well - - Acie finished with 13 points and 7 assists - - Antanas had 13 points and 7 rebounds - - Josh had 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting behind the arc - - DK did what he does best and that is to play solid perimeter defense, but he did manage to knock down a three and add 4 assists.

Quick Hits

- Iowa State’s Wesley Johnson is going to be a stud. The 6’7” freshman from Corsicana is silky smooth and has a ton of game.

- Martellus was there doing his usual thing – kissing babies and shaking hands.

- 49 points and 30.9% field goal shooting were both season lows for Iowa State.

- The Aggies had 22 assists on 25 made baskets - - they continue to do a great job of getting each other involved.

- A&M has won 20 in a row at home including 9 straight Big 12 games.

- Josh Carter continues to lead the league in three-point field goal percentage at 51% (52 makes on 102 attempts).

- If you want to stand in the aisle and talk to one of your friends that you have not seen in a while, please make sure you don’t do it when old army is trying to watch the Dance Team at halftime. This makes them angry and they ask you to move out of their way.

- If after you move out of the way of the dirty old man that loves to watch the dance team you still want to stand in the aisle and talk to one of your friends that you have not seen in a while, please make sure you don’t do it when another old army grump is trying to watch the Aggie Wranglers at halftime. This makes them even angrier and they ask you to move out of their way with a very unpleasant tone.

- Do not forget that the Aggies will be featured on ABC’s program “Free Ticket: Inside College Basketball” on Saturday at 2:00

- So many students showed up last night (6,000+) to camp out for Texas tickets (4,200 tickets are held back for Students) that they ended up canceling the ticket pull all together. As I am writing this the Athletic Department still has not formulated an alternative solution.

Looking Ahead

Well – this is what it all comes down to – 6 straight games that will decide whether or not this group of guys has what it takes to win the league and make a deep run into March.

The mayhem starts Saturday night with the Big 12 Game of the Year when the Aggies travel to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the mighty Jayhawks.

The game is on ESPN-HD at 8:00 on Saturday night.

ESPN College Gameday will be there as well and will broadcast live from Allen Fieldhouse at 10:00 AM, 7:00 PM and all day on Sportscenter. The Aggies and Jayhawks will be at the center of the college basketball universe on Saturday and it should be a ton of fun.

I will have a full preview out hopefully by Friday evening, but for sure by mid-morning on Saturday.

Carry on.