The Texas Longhorns (12-4, 2-1 Big 12) pulled away from Texas A&M (9-6, 0-3) down the stretch, defeating the Aggies 61-51 and picking up another critical conference home win as they prepare to enter arguably the toughest six-game stretch any team in college basketball will face this year (at Mizzou, at K-State, vs Kansas, vs Iowa State, at Baylor, vs Missouri).
Julien Lewis led the scoring for the Longhorns, busting out of his slump to the tune of 16 points on a beautifully efficient 6-10 shooting, including a perfect 3-3 from downtown. Although J`Covan Brown still couldn't find his lost stroke tonight (2-12 from the field overall, 0-3 from beyond the arc), he delivered an oustanding all-around performance, dishing out a team-high 6 assists, grabbing 6 rebounds, and notching 14 points thanks to a perfect 10-10 night at the line. Texas was also blessed by an appearance from "Good Chappy," as Clint Chapman continued his on-a-game, off-a-game trend with a strong 11-point, 7-board performance in 33 minutes.
I'm stuck at my office working late so I haven't even had a chance to watch the game on tape yet, but I noted in my pre-game thoughts that even though the Aggies present some challenges, "Still, I like us in this match up tonight, especially if we do a good job trying to push the ball, pick up some buckets in transition, don't settle for too many three pointers, and attack the rim aggressively. The biggest home court advantage in sports comes from getting the whistles at home in college basketball, and where the Aggies have been dreadful at attacking and getting to the line, that's one of the things this young Longhorns team does best."
Without having watched the game I can't tell you how well we did trying to create scoring opportunities in transition, but I only need the box score to tell me that we did a great job in the other key areas. Although Khris Middleton finally found his sophomore season form tonight, the Aggies as a team shot a dreadful 5-17 from three, right in line with their season average, while Texas did the better job of not settling for outside jumpers, shooting just 7 three-pointers (making 3), while bettering A&M in free throw opportunities by a whopping 15-attempt margin. The Aggies got to the line just 16 times, making 8, while the Longhorns racked up 31 attempts from the stripe, making 22. Texas also won the turnover battle again tonight, with just 12 turnovers against 17 by A&M.
That tells me whatever else this young team did or didn't do tonight, for the second-straight game they did the fundamental things that you absolutely have to do well to win in this conference. We were solid on the glass, took care of the ball, attacked the rim at home, and cashed in at the line. Strong performances in those areas can make up for a whole lot of other deficiencies, particularly at home, where NCAA Tournament berths are secured.
So far so good, and it'll be interesting to see how this team does across this upcoming brutal stretch of six games. I may chime in with some additional thoughts after watching tonight's game on tape, but for now this is your celebration thread. Jump in with comments and reactions to tonight's win.