Saturday, February 02, 2008

UT Rewind / Oklahoma Preview

Well, I do not think that any of us could have imagined what we saw at Reed arena on Wednesday night.

The Aggies did not come out and simply beat their rivals from Austin; they absolutely throttled them for 40 wild minutes at Reed Arena. A record crowd of 13,555 helped cheer on the good guys and made it an absolutely miserable night for Rick Barnes’ squad.

Behind the strength of two early Josh Carter three-pointers (welcome back kid!), the Aggies surged out to a resounding 19-to-3 lead over the first 6 minutes of the game.

With the crowd roaring on every single possession, the Aggies continued to build steam and actually pushed their lead all the way to 21 points and were ahead 31-10 after two free-throws by Bryan Davis at the 8:30 mark of the first period.

Everyone knew that it was not going to be easy all night long, and sure enough the Horns made a quick 11-0 run to cut the Aggies’ lead all the way back to 10 points at 31-21.

Behind a Turgeon timeout and a pair of dunks by Bryan Davis and DeAndre Jordan, the Aggies quickly swept aside the Texas run and finished out the half on a 15-7 run of their own pushing their lead back to 18 points.

The good guys headed to the locker room ahead 46-28 with a ton of momentum behind them.

One of the highlights of the first half was when BJ Holmes let a half-court shot fly as the halftime buzzer sounded. As the ball was in the air, Coach Turgeon kind of did a little crow-hop move all the way out to between the top of the key and the half court circle trying to encourage the ball into the rim.

As the ball missed and clanked off the rim, Turgeon was throwing his arms in the air encouraging both his team and the crowd as they sprinted to the locker room.

Turgeon was as animated and as into that game on Wednesday night as I have seen him all year long. I can not help but think that the guys were feeding off of his energy and enthusiasm on the sideline.

Coming out of the break, the two teams traded baskets as the A&M lead hovered between 14 and 17 points before Texas was able chip away to push it back to 11 points on three different occasions before the Aggies were finally able to put the Horns away.

A&M pushed their lead all the way to 22 points at 80-58 before Texas scored the final 5 points of the game to make the final score 80-63.

The Aggies were led by Josh Carter who had his 2nd double-double of the season when he scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Carter knocked down 4 of his 7 attempts behind the three point line, and as we discussed last week, Carter is absolutely a catalyst for this team.

As goes Carter, so go the Aggies.

In the 4 losses this season Carter is shooting 28.6% from downtown, and in the Aggies’ 17 wins carter is shooting 41.4%.

Joe Jones and Dominique Kirk also had solid games scoring 14 points each.

Finally, DeAndre Jordan finally came out and played with a chip on his shoulder again and responded nicely in his first Lone Star Showdown game scoring 10 points and pulling down 5 rebounds.

I’ve been tough on Turgeon over the last few games, but I will tell you this much, Coach was simply outstanding on Wednesday night. I thought his rotations were better. I thought his in-game management was better.

It was very clear that his guys had spent a lot of time working on setting the high picks on the offensive end. It was also evident that they were working with their big guys on defending the perimeter.

The A&M big guys did a much better job stepping around the Texas picks and they were getting low and wide forcing the UT guards to make wider turns and helping to keep them both off-balance and out of the lane.

Only a couple of things really stood out from the boxscore:

- Texas only shot 34% from the field and 52% from the free throw line on the night.

- The offensive rebound statistic was quite odd. Texas grabbed 21 offensive rebounds vs. only 9 for the Aggies. Even stranger, UT only had 18 second chance points vs. 15 for the Aggies.

- The Aggies did a great job on the Texas guard duo of DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams. Abrams was held to single-digit points for only the second time in his last 12 games, and Augustin’s 14 points were his lowest point total in his last 17 games.

Brandon Whittle, a good friend of the AHR, commented before the game that win-or-lose he simply wanted to see a behavior change. I think the response I got from Brandon was something along the lines of, “This is the fundamental shift we discussed…..”

I do not know where the A&M team we saw on Wednesday night has been hiding, but it was great to see them come out and play that well, even if only for one night.

Is Texas A&M as good as they looked on Wednesday night? No. Is Texas as bad as they looked on Wednesday night? No. It was just one of those fun nights when everything clicked. Those types of nights at the gym do not happen very often, but it is great when they do and even better when it is against your archrival!!!

Here is one final note from the Texas game that I thought you guys might enjoy.

Seniors Dominique Kirk and Joseph Jones never lost to Texas at Reed Arena, winning all four games. It is also worth pointing out that Texas was ranked every year, including three times in the top 10.

My, my - - how times have changed!!!!!

Oklahoma Preview

Ok – looking ahead to the Oklahoma game this afternoon.

Now I am really curious to see which Aggie team is going to show up. Is their joy again in Aggieland and the Aggies are back? Was the Texas game a one time anomaly? Are things fixed with this year’s squad and this is what we should expect to see going forward?

I do not know if we will have any of these definitive answers for a couple more weeks, but we will sure get our first glimpse this afternoon into what may lay ahead for the remainder of the season.

Oklahoma comes into Reed this afternoon (ESPN-Plus 3:00 CST) riding a 3 game winning streak. The Sooners have been off for most of the week following their 64-61 win over Oklahoma State Monday night in Norman.

Oklahoma is led by 6’10” super-freshman Blake Griffin who is averaging 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. The primary outside threat for Jeff Capel’s squad is 6’6” Tony Crocker who averages 11.3 points per game and knocks down 47 percent from three-point range.

I think the Aggies should be able to have plenty of success inside against Griffin and 6’ 11” senior Longar Longar. I would look for Turgeon to try and attack the Sooners in the paint for most of the afternoon.

The Aggie Hoops Report’s Final Score Prediction:

Oklahoma 61
Texas A&M 68


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