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.


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