GREENSBORO NC - DECEMBER 18: Cory Joseph #5 of the Texas Longhorns reacts with J'Covan Brown #14 after Joseph hit what became the game-winning basket against the North Carolina Tar Heels Greensboro Coliseum on December 18 2010 in Greensboro North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) – Jordan Hamilton scored 17 points and Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 13 rebounds, as No. 10 Texas beat Texas A&M, 70-58, in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
J’Covan Brown netted 15 points off the bench for the Longhorns (27-6), who will meet Kansas in Saturday’s final.
The matchup will be a familiar one. Kansas and Texas met in the championship game of this tourney in three consecutive years from 2006-08, with the Jayhawks winning every time.
However, Texas won this season’s only matchup, 74-63, back on January 22 in Lawrence.
“It would mean a lot to us if we could just win, but I know it’s going to be hard,” Brown said. “Kansas is probably upset about what happened at their place, so they’re going to come out and just try to fight a whole lot, try and outrebound us and everything.”
Khris Middleton scored 18 points to pace the Aggies (24-8), who were looking to move into the final for the first time.
Texas held a 30-24 lead at halftime, but Middleton opened the second half with a three-pointer. His dunk three minutes in gave the Aggies a 31-30 edge, and it was a back-and-forth game until Texas started to pull away.
The Longhorns went on an 11-2 run, during which Brown drilled a pair of three- pointers. Jai Lucas sank a jumper with 9:31 to go, ending the rally and giving Texas a 52-41 advantage.
Texas A&M countered with the next five points to stay close, and was within 54-50 after Naji Hibbert made two foul shots with five minutes to play.
But Hamilton followed with a three and Thompson drained a jumper to give Texas some breathing room. The Longhorns made 6-of-6 free throws in the final two minutes to secure the win.
Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon said he was pleased with the way his team started, but not with the breakdowns late in the game.
“For us to get to where we want to be as a program and where we think we belong, we have to beat a team like Kansas or Texas,” Turgeon said. “We’ve got to play 40 minutes, not 37 or 32 or whatever we’ve done.”
Texas A&M made just 28 percent of its field goals in the first half, but built a 14-7 lead nearly seven minutes in. Texas scored the next three buckets to stay close and pulled ahead later in the half, making 43 percent of its shots in the period.
Cory Joseph, who finished with 10 points and six boards, hit a three-pointer with 1:09 left to cap the half’s scoring.
Texas advanced to the title game for the fifth time in the last eight years. The Longhorns have lost every time…Texas shot 49 percent overall…The Aggies made 21-of-27 free throws.
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The Sports Network
By Andrew Gaddess, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sprint Center (18,555) -- Kansas City, Missouri. Television: Big 12 Network. Home Record: Texas A&M 15-2, Texas 16-2. Away Record: Texas A&M 5-4, Texas 7-3. Neutral Record: Texas A&M 4-1, Texas 3-1. Conference Record: Texas A&M 10-6, Texas 13-3. Series Record: Texas leads, 134-85
GAME NOTES: The Big 12 Conference Championship title game paring will be decided tonight, as the third-seeded Texas A&M Aggies and the 10th-ranked and second-seeded Texas Longhorns square off in a semifinal bout from the Sprint Center.
Tonight's victor garners a date with the Colorado/Kansas winner in Saturday's title game.
Texas A&M, which entered the tournament with the second-highest seed in program history, won six of its final eight regular-season games to finish in third place in the Big 12 standings. The Aggies opened Big 12 Championship play with an 86-71 victory over Missouri in Thursday's quarterfinals to advance to the semis.
After receiving the second-seed and a first-round bye, Texas convincingly dispatched 10th-seeded Oklahoma, 74-54, in Thursday's quarterfinals. The win was a welcome one, as the Longhorns dropped three of their final five games to close the regular season, finishing at 13-3 in league play..
The Longhorns dispatched the Aggies with relative ease in a pair of regular season meetings, posting an average margin of victory of 20.5 ppg in the two wins. Texas now leads the all-time series 134-85.
Texas A&M got off to a quick start and never looked back in Thursday's victory over Missouri. In particular, David Loubeau got off to a quick start, as he scored the Aggies' first eight points in what turned into a rollicking Texas A&M first half. After 20 minutes of play, the Aggies had compiled 46 points on 60.9 percent (14-of-23) shooting, including a 5-of-11 clip from beyond the arc, to take a commanding 13-point lead into the break. The second half saw more of the same as Texas A&M shot 54.5 percent from the field, 60 percent from three-point range and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the charity stripe to seal the victory. Loubeau and B.J. Holmes each finished with 20 points in the win, while Nathan Walkup added 16 points. The Aggies also posted a 35-27 rebounding advantage. Don't consider the sparkling offensive effort the norm, as Texas A&M ranks ninth out of 12 conference teams in scoring (69.2 ppg) and ranks eight in field goal percentage (44.8). In contrast, it is typically the Aggies' defense that earns wins, as they sport Big 12's second-best scoring defense (60.7 ppg). Three players (Khris Middleton, Holmes and Dash Harris) have recorded over 30 steals for the Aggies, who also post a plus-7.1 rebounding margin. Middleton and Loubeau lead the offense at 14.2 and 11.9 ppg, respectively.
Texas jumped out to a commanding lead against overwhelmed Oklahoma on Thursday night before hanging on for the victory. Even with a 23-point halftime lead, a Longhorns' win was not a foregone conclusion, as the normally stingy Texas defense struggled maintaining healthy leads down the stretch of the regular season. After the break, the Sooners were able to slice seven points off the inflated halftime margin, but they would get no closer, as Texas hung on for the win behind solid defense and strong performances from Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson. In all, the Longhorns held Oklahoma to just 40.4 percent shooting, including 23.1 percent (3-of-13) from three-point range. Hamilton recorded a double-double with 22 points and 10 boards, while Thompson tallied a double-double as well with 13 points and 11 boards. J'Covan Brown played well in a reserve role, netting 11 points and handing out five assists in 23 minutes of action. Hamilton continues to drive Texas forward, as he currently paces the squad in scoring (18.6 ppg) and three-pointers made (84) and second in rebounding (7.7 rpg). Thompson ranks second on the team in scoring (13.4 ppg) and first in rebounding (7.8 rpg). Despite their recent slump, the Longhorns typically earn wins on the other end of the floor, as they sport the third-best scoring defense in the Big 12 (60.8 ppg).
Expect Texas A&M to win this one. The Aggies have been playing particularly well of late, while Texas, in spite of its victory over Oklahoma, has struggled.