The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ferrell Center (10,284) -- Waco, Texas. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Texas A&M 14-2, Baylor 14-2. Away Record: Texas A&M 5-2, Baylor 2-5. Neutral Record: Texas A&M 3-1, Baylor 1-3. Conference Record: Texas A&M 9-4, Baylor 6-7. Series Record: Texas A&M leads, 127-75.
GAME NOTES: The 21st-ranked Texas A&M Aggies go in search of their sixth straight win as they pull into Waco for tonight's Big 12 Conference clash with the Baylor Bears.
Texas A&M took out Oklahoma in a 61-47 final on Wednesday night to claim its 22nd win of the season and its ninth in 13 Big 12 bouts. It was the only win during the team's current five-game run that was by more than five points, so at least the tension of winning close games was relieved, at least for one night. The Aggies have won three straight away from home to improve to 5-2 in true road games, and 8-3 outside of College Station all told when you factor in their 3-1 mark in neutral-site affairs.
Baylor, on the other hand, has dropped two straight to fall to 17-10 on the season and 6-7 in conference. The Bears were laid out in their recent bout at Missouri, as the 20th-ranked Tigers claimed a 77-59 victory. BU's saving grace this season has been its play at home, as it sports an impressive 14-2 mark at the Ferrell Center. Coach Scott Drew's club did suffer defeat its last time in Waco however, as the Texas Tech Red Raiders notched a 78-69 win last Saturday.
Baylor picked up a 76-74 overtime win over the Texas A&M in the first meeting between the two teams this season in College Station on February 5th. As a result, the Bears inched closer in the all-time series, which favors the Aggies, 127-75. Despite the earlier setback, A&M has won 10 of the last 14 meetings. The teams are dead even all-time at the Ferrell Center (11-11).
The Aggies aren't the most talented team in the Big 12, but they play solid basketball at both ends of the court and the results speak for themselves. Coach Mark Turgeon's club is averaging 70.1 ppg behind 44.9 percent field goal efficiency, which includes a 34.3 percent showing from three-point range, while foes are being credited with just 60.6 ppg on 41.1 percent overall shooting and 31.9 percent from downtown. Texas A&M is one of the better rebounding teams in the conference, laying claim to a +7.7 margin, and the Aggies also force nearly 14 turnovers per outing. Khris Middleton (14.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) heads a list of three averaging double figures in the scoring column, and he is joined by fellow forwards David Loubeau (11.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Nathan Walkup (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg). Guard B.J. Holmes is netting 9.7 ppg, and he is the team's top three-point shooter (41-of-98). Middleton, who nearly posted a double-double (18 points, nine rebounds) in the loss to Baylor earlier this month, and Walkup were the only two Aggies to reach double digits in the recent win over Oklahoma, scoring 13 and 11 points, respectively. A&M shot 47.9 percent from the field while allowing the Sooners just a 33.3 percent success rate. A 28-12 edge in points in the paint also played an integral role in the favorable outcome.
Led by one of the top scorers in not only the Big 12, but the nation as well, Baylor is right there with Texas A&M in terms of offensive production, the Bears averaging 70.9 ppg on 47.5 percent shooting from the field overall and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc. LaceDarius Dunn is generating 20.4 ppg, but he is just a 41.9 percent shooter from the field. He does hit better than 83 percent of his free throws, and he also grabs nearly four rebounds per game to go with 37 steals. Perry Jones III (14.1 ppg) and Quincy Acy (12.4 ppg) are the team's other two double-digit scorers, and both are shooting better than 52 percent from the field while combining for 14.7 caroms per contest. Jones III scored a season-high 27 points in leading the Bears past the Aggies in the first meeting this season. The Bears own a +5.5 rebounding margin for the season, but they are -0.9 in turnovers. Acy scored 13 points off the bench to lead five players in double figures for Baylor, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Bears dropped an 18-point decision at Missouri earlier this week. BU committed 21 turnovers while hitting just four three-pointers.
Expect the Bears to play well in front of the hometown faithful, but for the Aggies to prevail as they exact some revenge for the loss to Baylor just a few weeks ago.