The loss is disturbing and embarrassing, but the Longhorns took another blow to their depth as well. J'Covan Brown suffered a neck injury on a drive to the basket late in game. BJ Holmes took the "charge," and both players suffered hard falls to the court. Brown's neck appeared to react violently as his head collided with the floor. J'Covan was taken from the court in a neck brace and on a stretcher, and ESPN is now reporting that Texas officials report that Brown's neck injury is likely a stinger. It is too early to speculate what this means for the J'Covan and for the Longhorn over the final week of the regular season and beyond.
Quickly a few notes on the game.
I worked this morning and early afternoon and stayed in media blackout until I returned to my house. I flipped on the DVR hoping to enjoy a few hours of basketball but realistically expecting a loss.
The Longhorns were beaten in just about every aspect of the game.
- Field Goal Shooting: Texas must have started something like 1-for-10 from the floor, and it didn't get much better from there. The Longhorns finished at just 37% from the floor and 33% from behind the arc. The weaker shooting Aggies started slowly as well, but heated up over the last part of the first half and were never really in danger of relinquishing their eight point halftime lead. A&M shot 43% from the floor and 58% from three. Advantage Texas A&M.
- Free Throw Shooting: While Texas finally sank some free throws (12-of-15), the Aggies get the nod here too. Even before the few intentional late-game fouls by Texas, A&M was visiting the free throw stripe at a higher rate. A&M made more free throws (21-of-31) than Texas even attempted. Advantage Texas A&M.
- Transition Defense: The official box score doesn't include fast break points but A&M won this part of the game too. It seemed each time Texas cut the lead to five or six, A&M would score a bucket or two in transition, and Texas was quickly behind again by double digits. Advantage Texas A&M.
- Rebounding: When Damion James snags just a single rebound, we're screwed. The official numbers show Aggie domination on the glass, 40-29. A&M also grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. Clearly advantage Texas A&M.
- Damion James: DaMo played hard but not well. I don't mean to pin this loss on him either, cause this was a team failure 100%. However, for Texas to win on the road, James has to be the man. His 12 points may have led the team but 4-of-10 from the floor and only the single rebound is not enough. In the battle of stars, James, vs. Donald Sloan (19 points, 4 assists), it wasn't even close. Advantage Texas A&M.
I could keep going but you get the point. Texas didn't do any of the things you have to do to win on the road. Texas shot the ball poorly, failed to play defense without fouling, had trouble getting back in transition, coughed up the ball at terrible moments, and didn't get enough from James or Dexter Pittman.
This quick review would be inadequate if it didn't give two quick nods to Gary Johnson and Jordan Hamilton, who were clearly the two best Longhorns on the floor this afternoon. The stats don't really show it but I thought Gary really battled today against the taller A&M frontline. Johnson finished with just seven points and five boards but the effort was there.
And if there is anything exciting to come out of this loss, it is definitely the play of Hamilton. Jordan has now strung together consecutive games of excellent basketball for the first time all season. He is taking better shots, attacking the rim off the dribble, and really competing on the defensive end. Again the stats don't illustrate the tremendous jump he has made in recent games. Hamilton is playing team basketball instead of just trying to get his. At this point in the season, Texas is a better team when Jordan Hamilton is on the floor.
Texas falls to just 8-6 in conference play with two games remaining. Senior Night will be Monday at the Drum followed by a trip to Waco on Saturday afternoon. Obviously the home against the struggling Sooners is a must win. Stealing a road win and ending the regular season moving in the right direction would be huge. I'm not counting on upsetting Baylor a week from today, just hoping.
NEXT GAME: vs. Oklahoma (13-15, 4-10) - Monday, March 1st 8 pm ESPN