Lost in all the recruiting buzz and Super Bowl hype has been Rick Barnes and the Texas men's basketball team. The #7 ranked Horns (18-3, 6-1) take on rival A&M (13-6, 3-5) on Saturday afternoon 1 PM on ESPN at the Drum. Much like our football rivalry with the Aggies, this one has been really one sided recently. Since Barnes became the head coach, Texas is 12-2 against the Aggies. A&M did however steal a victory last January in College Station, 74-63. Don't expect the Aggies to pull this one off.
A&M has looked better at times under second year coach Billie Gillespie but are still a second or third tier team in the Big 12. The Aggies have played only one ranked opponent this season losing twice to Oklahoma. To the casual fan, this season started well for the Aggies. They started 10-0 and had only one loss heading into conference play. But a successful season is about who you beat and where you beat them not just how many games you win. The Aggies didn't leave College Station as they rolled off those ten in a row. Conference wins have been much tougher to come by. A&M has home wins over Tech and Baylor and a road victory against Iowa State. Unfortunately, they have lost close game after close game. In fact, all five of their conference losses have been by 10 points or less. So, the Aggies are close and much improved but not there yet.
Billie Gillespie's club is led by the two headed monster of Acie Law and Joseph Jones. Law is a 6'3" junior guard averaging 16 points and 3 assists per game. Jones is their solid 6'9" 250 lb sophomore center. Jones has used his body more effectively this season averaging 16 point and seven rebounds per game. Much like Tech, A&M is without a third scorer. No other Aggies average in double figures. Texas has much better balanced scoring. Four Texas starters average more than 10 per game and the fifth starter Kenton Paulino averages 8.9 per game.
Last season in Austin, Texas avenged their road loss to the Aggies hammering them 75-40. That thirty five point blowout was without Lamarcus Aldridge or PJ Tucker. As we all know, both will be in the starting lineup on Saturday. Texas is coming off a solid 66-53 road victory over Missouri. Tucker played exceptional in the second half.
Look for Texas to dominate the Aggies. We have six guys capable of scoring twenty or more on a given night. They have two. Texas dominates their opponents on the glass. The Horns are third nationally with a +10.3 rebounding margin. The Aggies have struggled rebounding the ball all season. They average a pathetic 0.3 boards per game more than their opponents. A&M is decent on defense but Texas has been much better. The Horns are currently second nationally in field goal percentage defense at 36.7%.
This one should be over quickly. Look for JD Lewis and possibly even Connor Atchley to get playing time in the second half. Hopefully, Lamarcus Aldridge will get back to his OU form. The only thing that slowed Aldridge in Norman was his foul trouble. He was much less effective and at times invisible against Missouri though. Aldridge seems to play better at home especially in the second half. An aggressive and effective Aldridge will be key to our success in March.
Texas wins with superior offense and simply better players, 82-60.