The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Arena (12,500) -- College Station, Texas. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Texas 12-1, Texas A&M 12-0. Away Record: Texas 4-1, Texas A&M 2-2. Neutral Record: Texas 2-1, Texas A&M 3-1. Conference Record: Texas 6-0, Texas A&M 4-2. Series Record: Texas leads, 133-85.
GAME NOTES: The Texas Longhorns are playing outstanding basketball, and they are set for a Big 12 Conference clash with the Texas A&M Aggies, who are fresh off a disappointing defeat.
These two teams met on January 19th in Austin, and the result was an 81-60 romp by the Longhorns. With regard to the all-time series between the bitter rivals, Texas owns a 133-85 lead.
Texas has run off six consecutive wins since the start of Big 12 play, and in addition to the 6-0 conference mark the Longhorns own an 18-3 overall record. All six league victories have come by double figures, including a 71-58 decision over Missouri on Saturday. Strong defense has been the key to UT's recent success, as it hasn't allowed more than 63 points in any conference tilt.
As for Texas A&M, it has lost two of its last three games after suffering only one defeat through the first 17 games of the season. Saturday's setback was extremely disappointing, as the Aggies put forth their worst offensive showing of the season in a 57-48 setback to Nebraska. Fortunately, A&M returns home tonight where it is 12-0 thus far.
Through 21 games, Texas is scoring 76.8 ppg, and there are four double-digit scorers in the lineup. Jordan Hamilton leads the pack with 19.0 ppg on the strength of his 42.4 percent shooting from three-point range, and he is ripping down 7.6 rpg as well. Tristan Thompson checks in with 12.9 ppg and 7.6 rpg, and he has blocked 46 shots as well. Gary Johnson provides 11.8 ppg, and Cory Joseph checks in with 11.2 ppg. As mentioned, the Longhorns are a tremendous defensive team that is limiting opponents to 60.5 ppg on 36.6 percent shooting from the field, including 27.9 percent from three-point range. Clearly, a positive rebounding differential of more than seven boards per contest has helped the cause. Against Missouri two days ago, Hamilton posted 16 points and 13 rebounds to go along with five assists, while Johnson registered 15 points and nine boards. Joseph scored 13 points for Texas, which connected on 52 percent of its field goal attempts.
Texas A&M shot a woeful 39.1 percent from the floor against Nebraska on Saturday and finished with only eight assists against 14 turnovers. The Aggies were also outscored 12-6 from the foul line, overshadowing a 34-26 rebounding advantage. Nathan Walkup scored 13 points in the setback, and Khris Middleton pitched in 12 points. Overall this season, Middleton is averaging 15.7 ppg to pace his club. David Loubeau checks in with 10.7 ppg, and Walkup provides 10.1 ppg. The Aggies are generating 71.3 ppg, but it has been their play at the defensive end and strong rebounding that have been the keys to their success. They are limiting opponents to 58.7 ppg on 40 percent shooting from the field, which includes a low 29.3 percent effort from three-point range. Also, A&M is outrebounding foes by 10.3 rpg, an impressive figure to say the least.
Expect this matchup to be much closer than the first meeting between the two teams. Give a narrow edge to Texas, which appears to be the better team at this point in the season.