Reed Arena | College Station, TX | Tip: 8 P.M. CT | TV: ESPN
Tonight, the Texas Longhorns visit Reed Arena as one of the hottest teams in the country. This afternoon, they ascended to the 3rd spot in both national rankings, and have moved up to the 1- or 2-seed line in almost every bracket projection on the internet. The Longhorns are boasting their first 6-0 conference start since the school joined the Big 12 conference, and have a dominating defense that has allowed conference opponents just 0.842 points per possession.
All of that could be meaningless, however, as Reed Arena has been a house of horrors in recent years for the Texas Longhorns. A&M has won the last six meetings between the two schools, with the Aggies claiming a 74-58 victory last season. During that six-year stretch, Texas has sent two teams to the Elite Eight — those two teams lost by a combined 30 points in Reed Arena.
But if you had to pick a Texas team to break the curse, this year’s edition would be a safe bet. The Longhorns seem to thrive on hostile environments, grabbing road wins at Michigan State’s Breslin Center and in front of 21,000-plus clad in Carolina-blue at Greensboro Coliseum. And then, of course, there was the monumental comeback win against the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse that snapped Kansas’ 69-game home winning streak. These Longhorns have proven they can stand tall on the road, but a win at Reed Arena will still be a very tough task.
The first meeting
Tonight’s game is the second match-up for the Horns and Aggies, who squared off in Austin just two weeks ago. The Longhorns dominated from the start, jumping out to a 20-5 lead just seven minutes into the game. While A&M closed the gap to five points in less than five minutes, that was as close as the Aggies would ever get, and Texas cruised to an 81-60 win.
Texas A&M’s frontcourt was absolutely abused by the Longhorns in the first meeting. Texas posted a plus-eight rebounding margin, and grabbed more than 40% of their own misses. On the defensive end, the Horns held the Aggies to just a 33.3% offensive-rebounding mark, well off of their season average of 40.9%.
Texas A&M was frustrated all night, and it showed in the types of fouls they were whistled for. Ray Turner and Kourtney Roberson each were called for four fouls, forcing David Loubeau to play more minutes on a night where he was having difficulty containing Texas’ Tristan Thompson. The Canadian freshman finished with 18 points on the night, and added six rebounds in 30 minutes on the court.
The Aggies have only played twice since that game in Austin, splitting the two contests. Texas A&M first knocked off Kansas State at home last Saturday, before dropping a game against Nebraska in Lincoln two days ago. The Aggies failed to score in the last 1:34 against Nebraska, allowing the Huskers to pull away for a 57-48 win.
During the two games, Dash Harris struggled at the point. Harris combined for five turnovers and just five assists in the two wins, while his typically-abysmal shooting continued. Against KSU and Nebraska, Dash was just 4-of-13 from the field.
Khris Middleton, meanwhile, continued to lead the way for Texas A&M, chipping in 30 points in the two games. Against the Wildcats, Middleton had a tough day from the field, but manufactured points for his team by getting to the line. Although he shot just 30% from the field, the sophomore knocked down 11 of 12 attempts at the line.
Meet the Aggies
Since this is the second meeting between the two teams this year, writing another in-depth look at the A&M roster would be a monumental waste of time. We suggest that you revisit the first game preview for more info on the Aggies than you probably ever wanted to know.
Keys to the game
As it was the first time these two teams met, controlling the glass will be key. The Aggies have found success this season by winning the rebounding battle, and Texas is one of the few teams that has managed to successfully keep A&M off the glass. If the Horns can once again limit second-chance points by clearing the defensive glass and can extend their own possessions by earning offensive rebounds, they have a much better chance to complete the season sweep.
All road environments are tough to fight through, but Reed Arena is one of the loudest places the Longhorns will play. Texas showed poise in coming back in front of a hostile Allen Fieldhouse crowd, so they need to draw on that experience when things get tough tonight. The Longhorns must fight through adversity if they are going to overcome the crowd and break the losing streak in College Station. When the Aggies go on a scoring run, the Texas offense must continue to be patient, and they cannot force shots in an effort to silence the crowd.
Finally, Texas would be wise to limit the perimeter scoring. The Horns did a great job shutting down the inside game of the Aggies in Austin — Loubeau, Nathan Walkup, and Turner combined for 19 points — but gave up a lot of three-pointers in the second half. Mark Turgeon does a great job slowing things down at home, and his stout defenses always make it very tough to put the ball in the basket. This adds up to a high likelihood for a very low-scoring affair tonight. The Horns can’t afford to let Texas A&M to sink many threes when their own points will likely be hard to come by.
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