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.


At 2/28/2007 9:18 AM, Anonymous cavey said...

I don't think UT can keep up thier hot streak and the Ags have some guys who have been waiting to get hot in Carter and AK. Playing in Austin will be big but I give A&M's older team the edge and a more comfortable margin at 78-70.

At 2/28/2007 9:31 AM, Anonymous The Dude said...

Wow. You do need an editor, unless we are playing tennessee and their best cheerleader, Pat Summitt tonight.

At 2/28/2007 9:51 AM, Anonymous Chris Batchelder said...

I can't wait for this game tonight. This is obviously the biggest game of the year for the Aggies in a season full of "biggest games of the year". This game will be the difference between a great season that caps off one of the biggest turnarounds in college atheltics or a good season that needs a tournament championship to really cap it off.
Great preview and I agree with everything save one. Kevin Durant wins Big 12 Player of the Year walking away. He's about 75% assured of winning National Player of the Year and that won't happen if he's not even the best in his conference, which he easily is. Any other year, Acie wins. Unfortunately, Durant is a once in a lifetime type of player that has never been seen before in the Big 12.
I look for a 2-3 point game and am not sure which way it will go. I actually think it will come down to the better coach so I lean toward the Aggies but I'm telling you, with Durant you never know.
Go Aggies!!! BTHOOUT or chop 'em or something that you guys scream out.

At 2/28/2007 10:43 AM, Anonymous Mr. MiyAggie said...

where re the refs coming from

At 2/28/2007 12:13 PM, Anonymous Jeff E. said...

I can barely sit still here at work just thinking about this game. I agree that this will be the biggest game this year, but that's just because we played Kansas before finishing our games with Texas. Anyways, I think tonight will be the game that either makes or breaks us in the eyes of the rest of the country. If we can sweep Texas then that shows the country that not even Kevin Durant can stop us, and that kid is GOOD. In fact, he is my only concern tonight. Without Durant, Texas would be on the same level as oklahoma at this point. I just hope that we can find a way to guard him without using up too many of our resources. If we can stop him with an occasional double team then I think we have a legimate chance at winning this game without any problems. If it takes a constant double team and an occasional triple team then I think we'll be in trouble. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Texas A&M takes this one by twelve, 93-81, and moves into a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Gig 'em Ags!

At 2/28/2007 12:58 PM, Anonymous The Dude said...

It's t.u. people. not UT or Texas. F them, if you want to know how i really feel about those cats. Also, a player has been seen in the Big 12 similar to durant, his name: Jerald Brown. he was great.

Go Aggies!!! BTHOOtu or chop 'em or something else that scream out.

Good win for the wheat wavers last night.

At 2/28/2007 1:06 PM, Anonymous The Dude said...

also, i predict a loss cause we are bound to get a ref that worked the michigan/msu game last night, a ref that worked utah/sdsu last night, and a dude from the winthrop game last night. it's going to be sweet.

Ags 62 t.u. 66

At 2/28/2007 1:41 PM, Blogger Steven said...

Wow - The Dude is feeling feisty today. Good stuff.

Calling them t.u. is gay. Almost as gay as the horse laugh. But not quite as gay as elephant walk.

At 2/28/2007 7:43 PM, Anonymous cavey said...

I agree. t.u. was for fish camp, and I sure hope UT beats the hell outta Kansas this weekend since they will be ticked about what we do to them tonight.

Larry also brought up a point I was going to touch on - perhaps Steven has a bit of Madden hyperbole in him.

78-70. mark it, dude.


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