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February 18, 2008

Aggie Beatdown

The No. 7 Texas Longhorns came in to "Big Monday" with revenge on their minds after an embarrassing 17-point loss at College Station on January 30. The Longhorns got their revenge and then some in front of national television audience Monday night with a sound 27-point beating of Texas A&M 77-50. D.J. Augustin led the Longhorns with 27 points and nine assists, while the Texas defense swatted 12 Aggie shots.

Sometimes the score at the end of a game isn't indicative of the type of beating that occurred in a game, but that was not the case Monday night.

Texas came out on fire to start behind the terrific play of Augustin and never looked back due to the best defensive effort of the season. The Longhorns (22-4, 9-2) suffocated the rival Aggies from start to finish, seemingly swatting every shot that went up around the paint and making near perfect rotations on the perimeter to contest every Texas A&M (20-6, 6-5) jumper.

Texas jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the opening minutes before going through a cold spell for four minutes. With the Aggies unable to score themselves for six minutes and fifteen seconds, the Longhorns continued to extend the lead to as many as 16 points, 23-7, at the nine minute mark.

The Aggies failed to cut the lead to single digits at all after getting down quickly and Augustin went on a scoring and assisting tear in the final five and half minutes of the opening half.

Augustin poured in 10 points and dished out two assists in the final five minutes and finished the half with 17 points and five dishes.

Texas A&M could never find the range, converting just six of 31 field goal attempts for 19 percent in half.

After twenty minutes of action, the Longhorns went to the locker room up 39-18 with a roaring applause from the sell out crowd of 16,755 in the Frank Erwin Center.

The second half was more of the same as Texas built the lead to 24 points on an A.J. Abrams three. The lead was cut to 19 points on a Josh Carter three shortly after, but that was the only possession in the last 23 minutes of the game in which the Longhorns didn't possess a lead of 20 or more.

The Longhorns milked the clock the final six minutes of the game before dribbling out the final few ticks and beating the hated rival by 27-points, 77-50.

Texas was led by Augustin with 27 points and nine assists. He was joined in double figures by Damion James with 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

Gary Johnson gave the Longhorns a lift off the bench with eight points and seven rebounds.

The Aggies were led by Carter with 11 points.

In the first meeting Carter and point guard Dominique Kirk combined for 33 points. Monday night, they totaled just 14.

A look at the numbers

Texas shot 46.7 percent (28-60) overall, 42.9 percent (9-21) from the three-point line and 85.7 percent (12-14) from the foul line.

Texas A&M connected on just 30.2 percent (19-63) from the field, .071 percent (1-14) from three and 47.8 percent (11-23) from the free throw line.

A&M won the battle of the boards 41-40, while Texas won the turnover battle 12-11.

The Longhorns and Aggies both scored 28 points in the paint.

The good

Too much to give each player enough credit and the team enough credit.

Best all-around defensive effort from the Longhorns in the last two seasons. The hedging and blitzing of the ball screens by the Texas big men was tremendous. Texas consistently pushed the Aggie guards out to 28-30-feet taking Texas A&M out of any desired rhythm or offensive sets.

The Longhorns understand once the ball gets to the low block, A&M will score or get fouled a high percentage of the time, so forcing the offense outside of 25 feet and making the big men catch on the perimeter to help the Aggie guards, instead of working back towards the post after screening was a great decision. The Aggies worked a high/low on two or three occasions in the second half, but not harm done.

Texas did a great job of fouling the poor free throw shooters. DeAndre Jordan got one dunk, but was otherwise physically defended and sent to the line. He fired rockets off the rim to the tune of one of seven.

Abrams' first half defense of Josh Carter was big time. He stuck to Carter like glue. Played under him and didn't give any space. When Carter put the ball on the floor, the Longhorn big men rotated and swatted a pair of shots. Carter shot just three of 11 scoring 11 points to go with three rebounds.

Justin Mason did a very good job on Kirk when guarding him. Kirk was limited to one of seven for three points after scoring 14 in the first meeting. Every jumper was contested and each drive had a big man in rotation to make scoring very difficult.

Texas swatted 12 shots. James led the way with four and Connor Atchley three as he continues to lead the Big 12 in blocks. Receiving two blocks from Clint Chapman and Dexter Pittman wasn't expected.

Speaking of Chapman, he played a very smart 11 minutes. He scored off of a blocked shot, screened well and played smart defense. Made smart fouls making Aggie big men earn points at the free throw line, which they don't do well.

Mason turned in another junk yard dog performance of five points, eight rebounds, two assists a block and a steal. He took smart shots tonight.

Johnson continues to play big as the sixth man. He's getting more comfortable with each game and turned in eight points and seven rebounds tonight. Johnson hit a pair of elbow jumpers off of screen/roll and that will make Texas a tougher team to defend in future games.

James hit a key three in the opening minutes, ran the floor with purpose, finished above the rim and played inspired ball as expected after his performance in College Station.

Finally, Augustin played his best game of the season tonight. He has scored more, rebounded more and assisted more in games this year, but this was his best combination of scoring and play making for others probably in his two seasons at Texas. A&M big men were slow to show on screen roll and Augustin repeatedly split the double getting into the middle of the lane and lofting soft touch passes to teammates for high percentage scoring chances. He made the two passes to Johnson for the elbow jumpers in screen/roll and just made smart decisions. Great and complete offensive game from the sophomore.

Overall

With the win, Texas jumps Kansas in RPI and now has the No. 5 spot to go with a strength of schedule of No. 3. The win over A&M gives the Longhorns a 9-3 record against top 50 RPI opponents. The nine wins ties the most ever for Texas under head coach Rick Barnes.

Next up is a couple of days of rest and then preparation for the Oklahoma Sooners, who come to town Saturday.


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