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.