Quick links:
 Latest Team Rankings
 Free Rivals Alerts
 Member Services
ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports

December 8, 2006

Game of the Week: Texas A&M at UCLA

Rivals.com Power Rankings
Rivals.com Video Vault
The College Basketball Wire

Get the inside scoop on your favorite team:

It was billed as the biggest week in Texas A&M basketball history. Now, some Aggies fans are wondering if it wasn't more of a scheduling mistake.

Just four days after losing 64-52 to No. 9 LSU on the road, the No. 6 Aggies face the No. 1 team in the nation in its own back yard. The Aggies take on top-ranked UCLA in the 13th annual John Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday afternoon. The matchup has been chosen as Rivals.com's Game of the Week

UCLA is off to an impressive start. The Bruins captured the Maui Invitational title, and have won six of their first seven games by at least 10 points.

The Bruins feature an improved offense from last season, when they reached the national title game. They're averaging 80 points a game this season, an 11.7-point improvement.

Can the Aggies slow down that attack? How do the teams stack up against each another? We answer those questions and break down all the head-to-head matchups.

Rivals.com Game of the Week: No. 6 Texas A&M (7-1) vs. No. 1 UCLA (7-0) in Anaheim, Calif.
Joseph Jones vs. Lorenzo Mata
Both of these big men probably wish they could incorporate some of the other's game. The wide-bodied Jones (6-9, 250) is mainly an offensive threat with good hands and a soft shooting touch around the basket. Mata (6-9, 240) gets most of his points on put-backs. Defense and rebounding are his strengths, areas where Jones (14.8 ppg) doesn't excel. That should ultimately work to the Aggies' favor though. Jones has a history of getting into foul trouble, a trait that LSU was able to take advantage of - thanks to star center Glen Davis. Jones struggled to guard Davis, was limited to just 16 minutes and fouled out for the third time this season. However, with Mata's limited offensive skills the Bruins can't pound the ball inside and attack Jones aggressively. They'll have to find a way to slow him down on offense instead.
Edge: Texas A&M.
Antanas Kavaliauskas vs. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Kavaliauskas (6-10, 250) has made some big strides offensively, but we're about to find out just how much the Lithuanian has improved. He showed off some of his newfound skill when he scored 18 points against LSU. Mbah a Moute (6-8, 230) possesses the size and speed to shut down talented players at a number of positions. The Cameroon native, who is averaging 11.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals, will also be tough to handle on the offensive end. He hits mid-range jumpers with regularity and does a great job crashing the boards. The Pac-10's reigning freshman of the year is coming off his worst game of the season he racked up five turnovers and just two points in a 78-54 win over Cal State-Fullerton so look for him to come out wanting to prove something from the start.
Edge: UCLA.
Josh Carter vs. Josh Shipp
If the Bruins had Shipp (6-5, 220) last season they would probably be the defending national champs instead of the runner-up. Long and athletic, the sophomore contributes in just about every phase of the game. He has recovered from a hip injury that forced him to take a medical redshirt. This season Shipp is averaging 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Carter (6-7, 195) isn't the same kind of multi-dimensional threat, but the lanky wing is very dangerous. A streaky shooter, he hit a school-record eight 3-pointers (on just 10 attempts) against Idaho State earlier this season. The Aggies don't need that kind of performance, but they can't afford for their best shooter to go cold from beyond the arc.
Edge: UCLA.
Dominique Kirk vs. Arron Afflalo
Afflalo (6-5, 215) entered the NBA Draft this past spring, but his decision to pull his name out and stay in school made the Bruins a contender for the national title again. A pure scorer, he's the go-to guy the Bruins count on for 15-20 points a game (he's averaging 17.1 ppg). The junior prefers to pull up and shoot 3-pointers, but he can also attack the basket. Kirk (6-3, 180) will be focusing most of his efforts on trying to stop Afflalo and won't worry about scoring. A defensive specialist with quick hands and good speed, he rarely gives up easy baskets or is found out of position. Offensively, Kirk is normally the fourth or fifth option on the floor for the Aggies, which means Afflalo could be able to conserve valuable energy on defense.
Edge: UCLA.
Acie Law vs. Darren Collison
This looks like the best matchup of the game, pitting two of the nation's top point guards against one another. Law (6-3, 195) carried the Aggies to their first NCAA Tournament since 1987 with his clutch play and leadership last season, but he's coming off the worst performance of his career. He turned in a 1-for-11 shooting night at LSU. Collison (6-1, 165) has been impressive in his first year as a starter, averaging 12.4 points and 6.3 assists. The sophomore captured MVP honors at the Maui Invitational. Law is more suited for the halfcourt game, where he can break down defenders off the dribble and create his own shot. Collison flourishes in transition, using his tremendous speed and vision to blow past defenders and create opportunities for teammates.
Edge: Texas A&M.
Texas A&M bench vs. UCLA bench
Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie and UCLA coach Ben Howland are tinkering with their rotations. Neither team appears to have a significant edge here. They both lack a great sixth man or a big scoring threat they can bring in off the bench who can change the game. Each team does have some size. Aggie freshman Bryan Davis (6-9, 245) and shot-blocking specialist Chinemelu Elonu (6-10, 225) provide frontcourt depth. The 6-8, 235-pound Alfred Aboya (pictured) and James Keefe (6-8, 220) do the same for the Bruins. Aggies guard Donald Sloan (pictured) - a top 100 recruit - will probably play significant minutes. If so, expect the Bruins to test him immediately with some defensive pressure.
Edge: Texas A&M.
Coaching Matchup
Any list of the coaches with the hottest stock at the moment would include Howland and Gillispie. Both have earned reputations for turning around programs and doing it quickly. Howland did it first at Pittsburgh, before coming to UCLA and taking the Bruins to the national title game in his third year in Westwood. Gillispie put together the biggest one-year turnaround at UTEP in 2003-04 taking the Miners from six wins to 24 wins. He then pulled off the same accomplishment in his first year at A&M, taking a program that went winless in the Big 12 the previous season and going 8-8 in league play. Both Howland and Gillispie are defensive-minded coaches whose teams are known for toughness. If there is a difference it's that Howland tends to be more aggressive, employing more presses and risky defensive tactics.
Edge: UCLA.

Michigan NEWS


Latest Headlines:

Rivals.com is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
Site-specific editorial/photos TheWolverine.com. All rights reserved. This website is an officially and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school or team.
About | Advertise with Us | Contact | Privacy Policy | About our Ads | Terms of Service | Copyright/IP policy | Yahoo! Sports - NBC Sports Network

Statistical information 2014 STATS LLC All Rights Reserved.