Texas A&M-Colorado Preview
Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon probably can't do much to surprise a Colorado team led by former college teammate and assistant Tad Boyle.
Turgeon, though, knows his 22nd-ranked Aggies must do something different to avoid their worst losing streak in seven seasons Wednesday night in Boulder, where they face the Buffaloes for the final time in Big 12 regular-season play.
Turgeon and Boyle were teammates for two seasons at Kansas in the mid-1980s, and the two friends were assistants at Oregon from 1994-97 before Boyle served as an assistant to Turgeon at Jacksonville State (1998-2000) and Wichita State (2000-06). Wednesday marks the first time they will coach against each other.
Turgeon admits it will be awkward going up against Boyle, in his first season in Boulder following four at Northern Colorado, but knows that helping the Aggies (17-5, 4-4) end a three-game losing streak is the priority.
"When we throw it up when the game starts, he's just trying to figure out a way to win, I'm just trying to figure out a way to win," said Turgeon, whose Aggies last lost three straight in 2008-09 but haven't had a four-game slide since going 0-17 to close 2003-04.
Since posting the program's first 13-game winning streak in 90 years, Texas A&M has dropped four of five to fall into a pack of seven Big 12 teams separated by one game.
A better start could help the Aggies from dropping further. After facing a 25-point halftime deficit in a 69-49 defeat to No. 3 Texas on Jan. 31, Texas A&M trailed Baylor by 14 in the first half of Saturday's 76-74 overtime loss.
"It was frustrating because we didn't start the game off right and had to fight our way back the whole game," Aggies leading scorer Khris Middleton said after finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Boyle is expecting a much better start by the Aggies on Wednesday.
"They've been struggling, but they're going to come out like a wounded dog now," he said. "... but we're kind of the same way. We've lost a few lately that we'd like to have back, and so we feel we need the game as well."
Colorado (15-9, 4-5), which joins the expanded Pac-10 next season, has lost five of six following a 12-1 stretch and hopes to take advantage of home games versus Texas A&M and Kansas State on Saturday.
"It's a separation week is the way we look at it," said Boyle, whose team has won 12 of 13 at home.
The Buffaloes, third in the Big 12 with 81.2 points per game, will try to take advantage of the altitude and force the Aggies into an up-tempo game.
Alec Burks, a 6-foot-6 guard averaging 19.8 points, and 6-5 Cory Higgins (16.1 ppg) could be tough to cover for the Aggies' undersized backcourt of B.J. Holmes (5-11) and Dash Harris (6-1).
Holmes, though, could create problems for the Buffaloes. He has 19 points in each of the last two games after scoring 18 in the previous three combined.
"If he continues to score like that we're going to be a much better team," Turgeon said.
Holmes had 16 points off the bench as the Aggies won 72-66 in their last trip to Boulder on March 4, 2009.
Higgins led Colorado with 27 in that loss. He and Burks each had 19 in a 67-63 defeat at College Station last Jan. 23 for the Buffaloes' seventh straight defeat in the series, dating to Feb. 28, 2004.