Texas-Texas A&M Preview
Texas had little trouble beating Texas A&M at home less than two weeks ago. However, it's been exactly seven years since the Longhorns last won in College Station.
The third-ranked Longhorns look to remain undefeated in Big 12 play while trying to avoid a seventh consecutive road loss to the No. 16 Aggies on Monday night.
Texas (18-3, 6-0) is off to its best conference start since the Big 12 began play in 1996-97. However, it could be in for a major challenge considering the home team has dominated this series of late.
The Longhorns extended their home winning streak over the Aggies to nine games with an 81-60 victory Jan. 19. Texas shot a season-high 58.0 percent and held Texas A&M to 41.5 from the field.
"We got punked,'' Texas A&M forward Nathan Walkup said.
The memories of that defeat and a 57-48 loss at Nebraska on Saturday could be enough to light a fire under the Aggies (17-3, 4-2) as they try to continue their home success against the Longhorns.
Texas has averaged 62.5 points and shot 37.3 percent while dropping six straight at Texas A&M since a 69-59 win Jan. 31, 2004. The Aggies scored 43 second-half points in a 74-58 victory over the Longhorns on Feb. 27.
That win began the Aggies' current 14-game home winning streak.
Though Texas A&M averaged 75.8 points during the six-game home run against the Longhorns, Texas may have the talent to end their drought in College Station this time.
The Longhorns have won their six league games by an average of 18.5 points and held Big 12 opponents to a conference-best 54.2 points per game. They held No. 11 Missouri - averaging a conference-high 83.7 points - to a season low in Saturday's 71-58 home victory.
"Good defense beats good offense on any given night,'' said Texas senior Gary Johnson, who had 15 points. "That's what we do.''
The Longhorns held the Tigers to a season-low 33.9 percent shooting and owned a 41-31 rebound advantage. Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton each had 13 boards while Johnson pulled down nine for one of the nation's most physical teams.
"There's no secret how they play,'' Missouri guard Kim English said. "They are a physical team. They pressure the ball. Big, strong guys.''
Hamilton had 27 points against the Aggies earlier this month. The sophomore swingman was one of two Longhorns to score in double-digits with 10 off the bench at Texas A&M last season.
While the Aggies have the potential to match Texas from a physical standpoint, they must improve in that area after being pushed around at Nebraska.
Texas A&M succumbed to the Cornhuskers' constant defensive pressure by committing 14 turnovers and shooting 24 percent in the second half and 39.1 for the game.
"We just weren't tough enough," Aggies coach Mark Turgeon told the school's official website. "It was real physical and we didn't respond. We've been able to do that in the past and we didn't respond. We just weren't tough enough and that's what it comes down to."
Walkup scored 13 points and leading scorer Khris Middleton added 12 for Texas A&M, which has lost two of three. Middleton (15.7 ppg) was the only Aggie in double figures with 16 points at Texas earlier this month.