January 31, 2008
Aggies back on track with win over Texas
Two weeks ago, Texas A&M was left for dead. After starting the season 15-1 and 1-0 in the Big 12 conference with a convincing 86-69 win over Colorado at home, the Aggies embarked on the road for the first time since for a month and a half.
The result of that two-game road streak was disastrous by losing to Texas Tech by 15 and Kansas State by 21. A five overtime loss to Baylor at home followed, and it seemed like the Aggies were spiraling out of control. But then things were resurrected with a road win, the first of the season, at Oklahoma State.
Wednesday night it seemed as if things have gone full circle with an 80-63 win over no. 10 Texas at Reed Arena in which the Aggies dominated for the full 40 minutes. A&M started off quickly with a 3-pointer from senior guard Dominique Kirk that gave the Aggies the lead. The lead hit 22 points at one point in the first half. Texas' biggest lead of the night? They never had one.
This was a Longhorn team that seemed to be riding high after dismantling Texas Tech in Austin Saturday. It's the same team that destroyed Tennessee and took UCLA in Pauley Pavilion earlier in the season. They have one of the top starting five's in the nation and Player of the Year candidate D.J. Augustin running the point.
But Augustin was held silent, not scoring until late in the first half and finishing with 14 points only because of a couple of ridiculously tough 3-pointers he hit in the second half. Augustin's game is getting into the paint on drives and either hitting an easy two, or dishing to an open man. Wednesday, the rotation of A&M guards Donald Sloan and Derrick Roland along with some great team defense from A&M's big men allowed Augustin into the lane a total of five times. Five. This guy usually does that more than 20 per game.
"I thought they were great. I thought they were both great. We tried to keep Sloan fresh and when D-Ro was in the game we put him on him," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "D-Ro plays in one gear defensively. He's in fifth gear and it's all about pressure, pressure, pressure. Since the Baylor game we've talked to him about backing off a little bit and controlling it and using his height. I just thought he did a tremendous job all night."
And there it is - the Baylor game. The five overtime heartbreaking loss to the team down the road in Waco. It was one that Aggie fans looked at as an exclamation point on a lost season. In the Aggie locker room and on the practice court, it was that game that become the rallying point. The same game that A&M had every reason to win, but couldn't get it done. The same game in which the Aggie shot just 61-percent from the free throw line. The game where A&M had five-point leads late in two overtime periods and let Baylor back in the game.
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