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.
- 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.
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.
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.