The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Texas A&M 11-0, Texas 10-1. Away Record: Texas A&M 2-0, Texas 2-1. Neutral Record: Texas A&M 3-1, Texas 2-1. Conference Record: Texas A&M 3-0, Texas 2-0. Series Record: Texas leads, 132-85.
GAME NOTES: Lone Star State rivals will collide in a Big 12 Conference battle from Austin this evening, as the 10th-ranked Texas Longhorns play host to the 11th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies.
Texas A&M has only one loss this season, and that setback came by two points to Boston College way back on November 25th. Since then, the Aggies have ripped off 13 consecutive wins to move to 16-1 overall and 3-0 in league action. After beating up on both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, A&M's third Big 12 contest was much closer, but the team found a way to get past Missouri by a 91-89 final in overtime last Saturday.
As for the Longhorns, they enter this contest on a roll, having won the last two outings and eight of nine. Last Saturday, they put forth a stellar defensive effort in a 66-46 triumph over Oklahoma and have won their two league games thus far by a combined total of 51 points. Texas is 14-3 overall and hopes to improve an already impressive home record to 11-1 tonight.
Texas owns a 132-85 series advantage over Texas A&M, which includes a 77-26 advantage in games played in Austin.
The strength of the Texas A&M team is its play at the defensive end of the court, as the club is limiting opponents to 57.6 ppg on 38.8 percent shooting from the floor. At the offensive end, the Aggies are generating 73.8 ppg, and there are three double-digit scorers in the fold. Khris Middleton leads the way with 15.8 ppg, and David Loubeau provides 11.5 ppg. As for Nathan Walkup, he rounds out the trio with 10.6 ppg and 6.1 rpg. Middleton was sensational for the Aggies in the overtime victory over Missouri, as the forward tallied 28 points and seven rebounds to go along with four assists. Walkup added 16 points for Texas A&M, which shot 66.7 percent from the field in the extra session. Clearly, the key to victory for the Aggies was a 29-9 advantage in points from the foul line, and it certainly helped the cause that A&M committed only nine turnovers.
Jordan Hamilton is the top scorer for Texas this season, as he is netting 19.2 ppg on the strength of 42.3 percent accuracy from three-point range. Hamilton is also ripping down 7.0 rpg and could earn Big 12 Player of the Year consideration if he continues his current pace. Tristan Thompson checks in with 12.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg for the Longhorns, who are getting 12.0 ppg and 7.3 rpg from Gary Johnson. Add Cory Joseph to the mix (11.4 ppg) and it comes as no surprise that Texas is generating a solid 78.0 ppg while limiting opponents to a lowly 61.4 ppg on 36.8 percent field goal efficiency. Hamilton scored 17 points against Oklahoma on Saturday, and Thompson added 15 points. Johnson scored 14 points for Texas, which excelled at the defensive end of the floor once again, limiting the Sooners to 46 points on 39.2 percent field goal efficiency, including a 1-of-15 showing from three-point range.
Texas has posted an 11-1 mark in home games against the Aggies during the Rick Barnes-era, and that trend will continue tonight. Expect the 'Horns to pull it out in a close one.