Thursday, March 01, 2007

Texas Recap - 2

Game Recap

Well, I have mentioned to you guys in the past that typing these up after losses are always a little tougher, and this morning is no exception.

Last night’s game was absolutely one for the ages and one that I would argue was probably the second best game in college basketball this season.

I still do not think that the game last night was quite as epic as the triple overtime thriller between OSU and Texas back in January, but it certainly made for quite an encore.

There were just so many twists and turns. I even got a couple of text messages that contemplated needing a doctor (or at least a handful of Advil this morning).

At times it looked like the Longhorns were going to blow out the Aggies, then 5 minutes later it looked like the Aggies were going to blow out the Longhorns.

It looked like Kevin Durant was going to be the hero, 10 seconds later it looked like Acie Law was going to be the hero.

It looked like Billy Gillispie was going to blow the game with a terrible decision, 3 minutes later it looked like Rick Barnes was going to blow the game with a terrible decision.

When it was all sorted out and the dust had finally settled, 50 minutes of basketball had been played, and the Aggies came up one bucket short of either extending the game one more time or winning it outright.

In the end, the good guys finally bowed out to the Longhorns by a final score of 98-96 in double overtime.

Let’s talk for a moment about what the loss means for the Aggies.

I think in the big picture the loss is not that big of a deal. At this point in the season you are what you are - - what that means is that your team is not going to get any better or any worse than you are right now. The Aggies are a damn good basketball team, and that is not going to change with a single loss by two points to your rival on the road in double overtime.

The Aggies still have the makeup and the chemistry to make a deep run into the tournament in March and that has not changed one iota.

In the smaller picture, the loss did quite a bit of damage, mainly to any aspirations the Aggies had of earning a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and winning their first conference title since 1986 (SWC).

I think the Aggies will still most likely end up as a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, but there is a very real chance they could also slide to a #3.

Between Kansas/Texas and Texas A&M/Missouri - - the scenarios for Saturday play out like this:

- A Kansas win and an A&M loss puts the Aggies as the 3 seed in OKC next week.
- A Texas win and an A&M loss puts the Aggies as the 3 seed.
- A Kansas win and an Aggie win means that Kansas wins the league and is the 1 seed. A&M would be the 2seed and Texas the 3.
- A Texas win and an Aggie win means that Texas would be the 1 seed, A&M the 2 seed, and Kansas the 3 seed. Allthree teams would be declared conference champions.

The 3rd scenario is actually the best case for the Aggies - - and yes, that means you should be rooting for UT to upset Kansas in Lawrence on Saturday (11:00am on CBS). It is ok, you can do it, especially if it means trophies and banners for the Aggies.

The Aggies play Missouri on Saturday, and they tip at 3:00 which means that the UT/Kansas game will certainly be over by the time the game gets underway and the Aggies will know exactly where they stand.

Alright, let’s take a quick look back at the game last night.

The two teams came out at an absolute furious pace, and by the time the first media timeout rolled around (under 16:00), they had already put a combined 24 points on the board.

As the Aggies held a slim 13-11 margin behind the strength of Joe Jones’ 7 quick points, they were immediately hit with their first big concern of the night. Antanas Kavaliauskas picked up his 2nd quick foul only 3:50 into the game - Kavaliauskas spent the rest of the half on the bench. You hated to see this as AK also got going early in easily scoring two quick buckets to help pace the Aggies early on.

The mad pace to the game continued through the early part of the first half, and behind 6 straight points from Josh Carter and a big three pointer by Donald Sloan, the Aggies still found themselves ahead by a score of 24-20 at the 9:11 mark.

The Longhorns, no great surprise, were being led by the strong play of Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin.

The later part of the first half saw the teams trade baskets (tied at 33 each with 3:38 remaining) before the Longhorns went on a decent run to close out the half.

The 10-3 spurt gave UT a 33-36 edge going into the break.

I thought the officials in the first half did a pretty good job of calling a balanced game. 10 fouls were called on the Aggies and 8 on the Longhorns, and both teams found their way to the free throw line 12 times.

UT was also much more efficient in the first half shooting the basketball in making 15 of their 26 attempts (58%), with the Aggies only making 12 shots on 32 attemps (38%).

As the two teams came out of the break, Josh Carter’s three pointer only 7 seconds in cut the Longhorn lead to four points before UT managed to rattle off 7 straight points and push their lead to the largest of the night, 11 points at 50-39.

From that point the Aggies went on a very impressive 23-5 run to push their lead to the largest of the night, 7 points at the 10:05 mark with the score of 62-55 in favor of the good guys.

The run was kick started by a re-energized Antanas Kavaliauskas who scored 6 of the Aggies' next 8 points.

From that point, Acie Law, who had been relatively quiet, took over and scored 6 straight points.

Furthermore, from that point Josh Carter took over, and he then scored 6 of the Aggies' next 8 points.

As we said above, the Aggies pushed the lead all the way to 7 at 62-55 and unfortunately 62 proved to be a sticking point.

The Aggies could not get off of 62 for the next 4:35 of game time.

During that stretch, the Longhorns regained their composure and settled in while executing an 11-0 run of their own to take back the lead at 66-62.

The final 4+ minutes of the game saw 4 ties and 3 lead changes as the teams battled toe-to-toe.

With the ‘horns up by 1, Kevin Durant drilled a deep three pointer that put them up by 4 with only 19 seconds left.

Wasting no time, the Aggies pushed the ball back up the floor and Dominique Kirk drained a three pointer of his own to cut the Texas lead back to 1 at 76-75.

Following the Kirk basket, the Aggies called a timeout to set their defense and come up with a strategy to foul and put someone on the line.

This is where I think Gillispie made his before-mentioned “terrible decision”, and that was to leave Josh Carter in the game for a defensive possession with four fouls and 15 seconds on the clock. I know the thought is that you need Josh out there to put up a three in the event you are going to get a look at it, but when your sole idea is to foul someone on the floor, there is no need to have Josh out there. Get him out of the game, put Derrick Roland in there, have Roland foul someone then immediately put Carter back in for Roland.

Gillispie did in-fact leave Josh in the game, and unfortunately he was whistled for his 5th foul and his evening was over.

Josh finished with a very impressive line of 17 points and 7 rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting which included 4-of-7 from behind the arc.

After the foul, Augustin hit both free throws to put the ‘horns ahead 78-75.

The Longhorns, having a foul to give, fouled the Aggies with 5 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds play, Acie Law caught the ball on the right wing and put up a HUGE rainbow three pointer over the outstretched arms of Kevin Durant that found the bottom of the net to tie the game at 78 and send it into overtime.

Thank you Rick Barnes for not fouling - - your terrible decision was appreciated.

Mr. Clutch came through again and extended the game to keep the Aggies alive.

The overtime period started out with Joe Jones picking up a questionable foul only 23 seconds in when Damion James tripped over his own feet; Joe too would have to take a seat over by Carter on the bench.

UT basically dominated the first overtime going ahead by as many as 7 points (87-80) with only 75 seconds left in the game.

The Aggies then went on an 8-1 run to close out the first overtime behind a three pointer by Kavaliauskas and then 5 straight points by none other than Acie Law. Acie hit another 3 pointer with 25 seconds left to tie the game at 88 and kept the Aggies alive again. Mr. Clutch does it yet again. Is Acie a witch? I think maybe so.

The second overtime was a little bizarre as Kavaliauskas put up three consecutive three pointers (making one). I am not sure that is who you want taking three point shots in overtime, but I guess if that is what the defense is going to give you, that is what you will take.

The dramatics were not quite over as the Aggies got the ball back down three, this time Rick Barnes did in-fact have his guys foul Acie. The problem was that D.J. Augustin was forced to grab Acie’s jersey from behind with both hands, and the officials missed what was a blatant intentional foul. There was nothing close to resembling a play on the ball and I am still not sure how they did not call it an intentional foul.

Acie went to the line, made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. Off the intentional miss, Junior Elonu nearly made the put-back which would have sent us to a 3rd overtime. Unfortunately the shot just missed to the right, and the final buzzer sounded ending an absolutely epic battle between these two heated rivals.

I could spend another 200 words talking about the officials, but I am really trying to take the approach of “The Aggies just needed one more basket”. I do not know if I am ready to say if I thought the officials were unfair, but I do know they were unbalanced. The Aggies were called for 28 fouls and the Longhorns 17. The Aggies shot 23 free throws and the Longhorns 41. Some of that has to do with style of play, but I do not want to get into it. I will just leave it at that.

What I am going to take from the game last night was Acie Law and his heroics. Acie is such a special player, and it is too bad that we only have 10 more games to watch him play (wink, wink).

Acie was the best player on the court last night, and it is a darn shame that the best player on the better team did not win that game last night. Unfortunately that is just how it goes sometimes in college basketball.

Acie’s final line was 33 points (on 10-of-23 shooting), 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 50 minutes of action.

I told you guys yesterday that if for no other reason it would be cool for them to win the game for Acie, and it is too bad they could not find one more basket to get it done.

Quick Hits

- I thought Joe was great in his 31 minutes of action. The big fella put up 12 points and 11 rebounds working against the overmatched UT interior players.

- I feel bad for Bryan Davis. His inability to knock down shots at the rim is quickly becoming an epidemic. Hopefully he can get it worked out very quickly as his minutes off the bench are very valuable.

- I thought Donald Sloan looked ok in his limited minutes off the bench.

- Marlon, Marlon, Marlon. Pompey had a huge basket in the middle of the Aggies' run in the second half, but he was terrible from the free throw line again (2-for-6). Marlon brings so much energy to the floor, I just wish there was a way to channel it into more production. Marlon was very good, as usual, on the defensive end of the floor. Again, I will just leave it at that.

- The Aggies were a very impressive 13-of-25 from behind the arc last night as 6 different Aggies knocked down at least one three pointer.

- 11 of the Longhorns’ 20 points in both overtimes came at the free throw line. (oops, I said I would not bring that up again – my bad.)

- Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla got on my nerves last night – a little too much love for UT I guess. Maybe I was reading too much into it, but I thought they got too caught up in the Longhorns winning the game (or not so much) three different times.

Looking Ahead

Well, Senior Night looms for the Aggies on Saturday afternoon as they welcome the Missouri Tigers to Reed Arena.

The scene before the game will be very emotional as we all bid goodbye to Acie Law, Marlon Pompey and Antanas Kavaliauskas. Both Marlon and Antanas will have their mothers with them, and it will mark the first time that both guys will have their mothers see them play in an Aggie uniform. I think that is awesome!

As much as Marlon and Antanas mean to this team, Saturday’s ceremony will not be all about them, it will be about Acie Law and what he has meant to this program and this team.

Acie is the poster child for Aggie Basketball. Acie (and Marlon) represent not only the last two years and these NCAA teams, they also represent 0-17 from 2003-2004.

There has not been a more important player in the history of Aggie Basketball than Acie Law.

As we have said before, Antoine Wright might be the guy that started it all, but Acie Law is the guy that has lead this program to the next level. The tribute on Saturday should be pretty cool.

Finally - - I will welcome back Melvin Watkins (Mizzou Assistant) with a round of applause because Melvin is a good guy who represented this university well, and he is responsible for bringing Antoine Wright, Acie Law and Joseph Jones to College Station. Melvin’s only problems were a lack of wins and a lack of support from the university. I hope the rest of the crowd will greet Melvin with a round of applause as well.

10 Comments:

At 3/01/2007 9:41 PM, Anonymous The Dude said...

nice pic of Durant going for Kirk's nuts. Foul called on Kirk. That's just great. Kirk picked up his 6th foul and the game ended 24 hours ago. We can't buy a call.

 
At 3/02/2007 7:07 AM, Anonymous cavey said...

I thouht AK hit the first 2 3's of his run?

 
At 3/02/2007 7:35 AM, Blogger Steven said...

Kavaliauskas hit two threes - one at the 1:06 mark in the 1st overtime and one at the 2:41 mark of the 2nd overtime.

The play-by-play shows the following from the 2nd overtime:

02:41 GOOD! 3 PTR by KAVALIAUSKAS,Antanas
01:32 MISSED 3 PTR by KAVALIAUSKAS,Antanas

00:48 MISSED 3 PTR by KAVALIAUSKAS,Antanas


I also screwed up the following:
- A Texas win and an Aggie win means that Texas would be the 1 seed, Kansas the 2, and A&M the 3. All three teams would be declared conference champions.

If Texas and Texas A&M both win - Texas would be the 1 seed and A&M the two seed.

My fault for the bad information.

 
At 3/02/2007 8:56 AM, Anonymous Chris Batchelder said...

Something has to be done about Acie's socks. He's leaving talent on the table and won't be the true great player that he can be until he gets rid of those horrible tube socks. What a joke.
I told Steven this the other night, and will point it out again after reading The Dude's whining. Ref's have rarely cost a team a victory and they didn't again last night. You guys think the refs are after you because you're so vested in the outcome. An independent eye can see that there are bad calls both ways. The superstars of any league are going to get calls, for them and some that should have gone against them. The reason A&M gets so many fouls called on them is because they play an incredibally intense and hands on style of defense. Far and away the best in the league. They've also got 22 freaking guys on the bench so Gillespie knows that he can afford to do that. Trust me, he doesn't think he's getting ripped off nearly as bad as you guys do. He knows how aggressive he wants his guys to be.
Now, that being said, the numbers looked incredibally lopsided last night. But if you go back and look at most home games, I'll bet it goes that way. On the season, A&M's opponenets have 3 more fouls than they do. A&M has 569 fouls on the season. OSU has 542.
The only thing I'll give you is that it doesn't look like Texas gets very many called on them at all. On the season they have 498 and their opponenets 599 so that's a huge difference. But it could also mean that they actually don't foul. It appears to have been consistent all season and that's really all you can ask.
Wilbon and Kornheiser took the Aggies to the final four yesterday...it would be hard to argue at this point. See you Sunday in OKC.
Fight the fight, through the night.

 
At 3/02/2007 9:10 AM, Blogger James said...

A&M's style of play lends itself to a lot of grind-it-out games so I hope "the mistake" regarding Carter is one never repeated come tourney time. While I would rather had won, I do believe the things learned in that game (by players and coaches) could be the last intangible ingredient needed to ready the Ags for a deep run come tourney time.

On a another note, is anyone else concerned about next years team. Not to look past what this year could be, but who is going to replace Acie's ability to take over games, hit clutch shots, and basically be the go to guy. I mean without him what would our record be this year?

 
At 3/02/2007 9:44 AM, Anonymous The Dude said...

next year - two words: Deandre Jordan. we won't need clutch shots as we will be ahead by 20 with two minutes left in the game. Another foul was just called on kirk. (that was for Larry).

 
At 3/02/2007 10:22 AM, Blogger Steven said...

James - I had this conversation with my brother (yes, he goes by both Chris and Larry) the other day.

You will never be able to replace Acie Law, you just do not replace guys like that.

The way I was looking at it was from a production standpoint.

Can Donald Sloan account for 60% of Acie's production this year?

Not his clutch shots or his leadership abilities, but just his points/rebounds/assists etc.

I think the answer with regards to 60% question is yes, Sloan has shown that he can be a 13 point 5 assist guy when given the opportunity over 35 minutes per game.

I think that is a pretty good place to start and then you hope that Joe or Kirk or Carter will be the guy that can take over from a leadership perspecitve.

Next year's starting 5 will presumably be as follows:

Sloan
Kirk
Carter
Jordan
Jones

Off the bench you will have:
Davis
Elonu
Walkup
Roland

That is still a very formidable group that can easily win 11 or 12 games in the Big 12.

(Why is nobody talking about the fact that Damion James walked with the basketball every time he touched it on Wednesday night?)

 
At 3/02/2007 10:48 AM, Blogger Steven said...

I can not believe I just read this.

From Andy Katz' article on Durant from ESPN.com.

"Even one of the game's referees, Mike Wood, said earlier in the day that he was looking forward to watching Durant play for the first time in person."

I stand by my statement that officials are intimidated by Durant.

 
At 3/02/2007 5:02 PM, Anonymous The Dude said...

championship aside.. does anyone else kind of hope t.u. loses so A&M will still be the only team to win in Lawrence?

 
At 3/04/2007 2:53 PM, Anonymous MrMiyAggie said...

Some points while pruning the bonsai tree....

I think DS can take over that 60% of AL 4's production that Steven is asking for. DS is quicker to the basket than AL 4. JJ will continue to be a force. My question regarding next season is... Can deandre Jordan pass as well as AK? will he fit into the high low activity that is generated between AK and JJ currently?

DK just fouled again.

While i do think its true that you are biased against officials when you watch your team play, I see no problem argueing calls made by officials. For example, Steven points out the obvious intentional foul on DJ Augustin against AL 4. This was an obvious violation against the rule book that was not called. Now will someone point out a bad call/noncall against the longhorns that had a game changing effect.

BD just missed another lay up.

Looking ahead. I guess we'll be playing Okie St again, well of course they haven't been playing well so maybe Nebraska. blah blah blah, Aggies advance to face.........Texas??? Here we go again. As a licenced physician, I suggest everyone start taking a daily aspirin, start a low fat,low carb diet, stop smoking, and have some sublingual nitroglycerine at couchside. A&M and texas, rivals, on a neutral court, for the right to play Kansas, and holy $*)@ i'll be getting married approximately 30 minutes after the completion of the game, unless of course the game goes to overtime and we are forced to postpose the ceremony. In the famous words of Carl Torbush, "Wow."

They just called a foul on DK for elbowing JJ on the bench. BD just missed a dunk

 

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