@ Texas A&M Aggies
Monday, Feb 16, 2009, 8:00 PM CST
Reed Arena College Station, Texas
Television: ESPN (Ron Franklin & Fran Fraschilla)
Radio: 98.1 FM / 1300 AM (Austin) XM Satellite Radio Ch. 231
Las Vegas Line: Texas -2
KenPom Data Prediction: Texas 65-62
Opponent Blog: I Am the 12th Man
First Game: January 24th Texas 67-58
|Texas A&M||Texas||Texas A&M||Texas|
|Overall Record||17-8||17-7||Offensive Efficiency (Rank)||107.5 (82)||110.1 (52)|
|Conference Record||3-7||6-4||Defensive Efficiency (Rank)||95.4 (68)||89.1 (16)|
||13-2||10-2||Strength of Schedule Rank||#62||#26|
|Away / Neutral Record||2-5 / 2-1||4-3 / 3-2||Quality Wins||Arizona
|Record Last 5 and 10 Games||2-3 / 3-7||2-3 / 6-4||Losses||n-Tulsa
at Oklahoma St
Stakes and Keys to the Game after the jump.
The Texas Longhorns (17-7, 6-4) hit the road for the second straight game as they visit Texas A&M (17-8, 3-7) on Big Monday. For decades Texas owned the Aggies in men’s basketball, but the teams have split the season series in each of the last four seasons with each winning on their home court. The Longhorns haven’t won in College Station since 2004! That needs to change.
Tonight’s game matches two teams seemingly traveling in different directions. Texas is definitely a flawed team offensively and defensively; however, the 'Horns now won two straight and are back on track for another NCAA tournament bid. Meanwhile, A&M was hit with one of toughest schedules to start conference play imaginable and stumbled to a 1-4 start, including a 67-58 loss in Austin. Since then, the Aggies grabbed two home wins before faltering in each of their last three contests. A&M currently sits at 3-7 in conference play, with an RPI of #51, and destined for a trip to the NIT. Regardless of how disappointing their season has been so far, the Aggies will be ready to play this evening.
As you can see from Pomeroy’s statistics, Texas A&M is slightly above average on offense and defense for the season. When we look closer into the advanced metric statistics in conference play, we see a team that is struggling defensively. Against the stronger conference competition, A&M has given up more than a point per possession in every league game but one (Oklahoma State). Conversely, the Aggies have not shot the ball well from the field and are turning the ball over at a high frequency in their losses.
Offensively, Josh Carter leads the team in scoring at 13.3 ppg and has become better at using his 6-6 frame for more than catch-and-shoot three pointers. Carter has scored in double figures in each of the last five games, including 20 points in the loss at Baylor. AJ Abrams did an excellent job on Carter in the game in Austin. Despite the height difference, expect to see Abrams draw the Carter assignment again.
Donald Sloan, a 6-3 junior guard, gives A&M their second scorer in the backcourt. Sloan can knock down the three-pointer but is more dangerous when getting into the lane. Texas defenders must remember scouting reports: run at Carter and make him put it on the deck and lay off Sloan to keep him out of the lane.
Texas A&M’s inside presence comes from Chinemeulu ‘Junior’ Elonu and Brian Davis. Neither Elonu nor Davis is a particularly skilled back to the basket scorer, and both require trips to the line or offensive rebounds to put the ball in the basket. The Texas bigs must defend without fouling and put a body on both players when perimeter jumpers get launched.
Keys to the Game:
(1) Don’t settle and attack the rim. This is the same key we had for the Colorado game. The Aggies are not a good defensive team but Texas is not a good (other than Abrams) outside shooting team. The Longhorns need to attack the basket, get to the free throw line, and get the Aggies into foul trouble. At least 20 trips to the line would be a good indicator of offensive aggressiveness. Two players to watch in this regard are Damion James and Gary Johnson. They are at their best when scoring in the paint and at their worst when settling for contested, mid-range jumpers.
(2) Locate Josh Carter in the half court. Carter is a streaky shooter who can easily hit four or five three-pointers in a game. If Balbay and the Texas offense do their thing, like they have in each of the last two games, then A&M will need a few threes to go down to win the game. Rick Barnes can live with Donald Sloan or Derrick Roland getting open looks from three. It will be costly for the ‘Horns if Carter is allowed open catch-and-shoot jumpers.
(3) Play D without fouling. Kansas State shot 35 free throws in their win in Austin, Missouri shot 19 in their win, Nebraska shot 14 in a slower game, Oklahoma State shot 25, and Colorado shot 29 on Saturday. Texas is not a deep team and cannot afford to get in foul trouble, nor can they afford to give opponents easy points at the line. The defense is not playing at the same level it was in November and December and part of the reason why is the increase in fouls. This is a huge key to the game as the Aggies score nearly a quarter of their points from the line, 13th most in the country (Pomeroy). Texas will need to overcome and play through some home-court calls to win in College Station.
(4) Control the Defensive Glass. Texas A&M is a good but not great offensive rebounding team. However, they have grabbing offensive rebounds at a higher rate recently and still losing. If Texas keeps Elonu and Davis off the glass, then the Longhorns will have a very good shot at pulling out the victory.