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January 27, 2007As the Oklahoma Sooners (11-7, 3-3 Big 12) get set to take on Texas A&M (16-3, 4-1 Big 12) in College Station, Texas, on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. it appears the tables are finally ready to turn.
Oklahoma holds a commanding 25-1 series lead over the Aggies. The Sooners have also won 14 straight games against Texas A&M. The lone win for the Aggies in this series came in 1999 when they defeated Oklahoma 74-72.
But it's clear A&M has their biggest advantage ever as they enter the contest tied for first-place in the Big 12 Conference.
Texas A&M is the leagues top defensive squad giving up only 54.2 points per game. Opposing teams are also shooting a paltry 35 percent from the field.
The Aggies are led by veterans Acie Law and Joseph Jones. Both players are making a strong push for first-team All-Big 12 honors through the early portion of Big 12 play.
Law leads the Aggies scoring 16.5 points per game while Jones is putting up 13.6 points per game. But A&M isn't just about their two stars and defense.
As a team, Texas A&M is the Big 12's top shooting team at 51 percent from the field. They also lead the conference in foul shooting (.747).
In short, the Aggies shoot well and keep opposing teams from making their own shots.
It will be up to the Sooners to continue improving their play if they have any hopes of escaping Reed Arena with a victory.
Oklahoma's two-game winning streak was snapped on Monday during Bedlam when Oklahoma State came out on top 66-61. But it's becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to ignore the play of Nate Carter who scored a game high 23 points during Bedlam.
Carter has been nothing short of amazing during Big 12 play. In non-conference play, Carter averaged 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds. But after a so-so performance against Texas Tech to start Big 12 play, Carter has been the catalyst behind OU's early season resurgence.
Carter has averaged 18.3 points 8.3 rebounds per game in six conference contests. He's also been helped by Michael Neal who's also found his range from beyond the three-point line over the last two weeks.
Neal has increased his three point accuracy from just north of 20 percent shooting to over 51 percent over the last five games.
The Sooners will need Carter and Neal to continue their hot streaks as they meet a Texas A&M team coming off of their first Big 12 loss of the season. The Aggies dropped a 70-68 thriller in Lubbock to Texas Tech and lost sole possession of first-place in the Big 12 Conference.
The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for A&M.
OKLAHOMA PROJECTED STARTERS
F 24 Nate Carter (6-6, 220, Sr., 9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
F 32 Taylor Griffin (6-7, 232, So., 7.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
G 2 Michael Neal (6-3, 198, Sr., 10.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G 5 Tony Crocker (6-5, 187, Fr., 9.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
G 20 Austin Johnson (6-3, 160, So., 8.7 ppg, 3.3 apg)
TEXAS A&M PROJECTED STARTERS
F 44 Antanas Kavaliauskas (6-9, 250, Sr., 11.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
C 30 Joseph Jones (6-9, 250, Jr., 13.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
G 1 Acie Law (6-3, 195, Sr., 16.5 ppg 4.8 apg)
G 22 Dominique Kirk (6-3, 180, Jr., 6.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
G 23 Josh Carter (6-7, 195, So., 11.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg)