#7 Texas A&M vs. #25 Texas
Monday February 5th
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.
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
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
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