College Hoops Wednesday Recap: Longhorns Throttle Texas A&M

January 20th, 2011
It would have been extremely difficult to find many people who expected Wednesday's rivalry game between Texas A&M and Texas to be a blowout. But that's what happened in Austin as the Longhorns took control of the game defensively while also executing on the offensive end, winning by the final score of 81-60 and ending the Aggies' 13-game win streak. Jordan Hamilton led all scorers with 27 points while forwards Tristan Thompson and Gary Johnson combined for 32 points and nine rebounds in the emphatic victory, one that keeps Texas in step with Kansas in the loss column atop the Big 12 standings. Khris Middleton led A&M with 16 points but he didn't get much help on the offensive floor despite an overall field goal percentage (41.5%) that doesn't look terrible at first glance. But when compared with Texas' field goal percentage of 58.0% it makes the task of finding reasons for this defeat quite simple.

"We got whipped; from the first possession to the last possession that was a whipping," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "I thought Texas was fantastic. Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton were off the charts."

Things didn't get off to a good start for the visitors as they fell behind 20-5 following four free throws (a personal foul followed by a technical on the Aggie bench) with 13:05 remaining in the half. But A&M was able to work their way back to within striking distance thanks to better execution on both ends of the floor, making the score 28-22 with 5:24 to go on an Andrew Darko three. Texas then worked the lead back out to ten before the Aggies cut the margin back down to six. But the final two minutes of the half belonged to Hamilton, who scored five of the Longhorns' final seven points as they took a 39-27 lead into the break. That six-point deficit would prove to be as close as the Aggies would be the remainder of the night.

"It was a six-point game before half and Hamilton started doing his thing and I thought we never stopped them," noted Coach Turgeon. "I thought it felt like they scored every time they had the ball and that is not what we are about."

While numbers such as points in the paint (32-30 Texas), points off turnovers (13-12 Texas) and bench points (20-14 A&M) were close, rebounding and assist-to-turnover ratio proved to be a more accurate depiction of the thorough beating many witnessed. Texas out-rebounded the Aggies 33-25 and finished with 16 assists to just eight turnovers. A&M also turned the ball over eight times...but with just seven assists to show for it. Given the fact that A&M doesn't have a player like a Hamilton who can create his own shot on a regular basis, that low of a number was a bit of an issue for the Aggies. Texas A&M will be fine as the season wears on provided players such as David Lobeau and Nathan Walkup get back to providing consistent help offensively. But the story on Wednesday night was Texas, who looked more than ready for their upcoming matchup at Kansas on Saturday. (quotes courtesy of Texas Athletics)

Other Notable Happenings

1. What New Mexico/UNLV on Saturday lost in excitement it likely gained in desperation.
The matchup between the Lobos and Rebels was supposed to be one of the games that helped determine who won the Mountain West along with those involving BYU and San Diego State. No such luck now given the recent struggles of both, including the losses both took on Wednesday night. The Lobos fell to a mediocre Utah team in Salt Lake City, allowing 45 points in the first half of what would eventually become an 82-72 defeat. The Utes shot 50.9% from the field and made 10 of 19 three-pointers, making it near impossible for the Lobos to come back when they shot 5-for-17 from deep. UNLV, on the other hand, was without Tre'Von Willis (knee) for their home game against Colorado State and they paid dearly for it. The rapidly improving Rams won 78-63 behind the play of forwards Andy Ogide and Travis Franklin (combined 42 points and 16 rebounds). Both the Lobos and Rebels have three losses in conference play, practically ruling them out of the title race unless BYU and SDSU pull off an unfathomable plunge of their own. And the struggles could have a significant impact on how many teams reach the NCAA Tournament come March; despite UNLV's solid non-conference credentials one could make the argument that Colorado State is now third in that pecking order. Simply put UNM needs PG Dairese Gary to get untracked while UNLV needs a healthy Willis and more consistent play from its offensive weapons. Whichever team gets a positive answer on Saturday could resuscitate their fleeting hopes of an at-large bid.

2. Another "close but no cigar" outcome for Penn State.
Well, it seemed pretty obvious to the eye, be it trained or untrained, that Penn State should have been awarded the basketball with 5.4 seconds remaining and a 62-61 lead. But the officials didn't agree, setting the stage for JaJuan Johnson to knock down a jumper from 18 feet to give the Boilermakers the victory in West Lafayette. The loss drops Penn State to 3-4 in Big Ten play, and they've not got back-to-back close calls that could provide quite the dilemma for the selection committee should the Lions be one of the last few teams on the board. Do you reward close losses to elite competition, and if so how much weight do the close defeats at Ohio State and Purdue carry? But that's a conversation to dig deeper into down the road; the fact of the matter is that Ed DeChellis' is much improved over last season's squad, and the performances of players such as Jeff Brooks, David Jackson and Andrew Jones is why. Talor Battle now has credible help in shouldering the load, and with Penn State essentially going six deep (with the three reserves used counting as one man) the senior will need all the help he can get. But at some point the mere ability to hang tough for 40 minutes against the better teams in the Big Ten won't be enough. Penn State needs a couple marquee wins to put on their resume if they're to stand out come March.

3. Carleton Scott returns and Notre Dame beats Cincinnati.
Given the offensive impact of players such as Tim Abromaitis, Ben Hansbrough and Scott Martin one wouldn't think that the presence of Carleton Scott would be something that Notre Dame would struggle to account for. But they did just that last week, losing by double figures to both Marquette and St. John's on the road. But with Scott (hamstring) returning earlier than expected from his injury the Irish took care of Cincinnati 66-58, with his contributions far more important than what the simplistic action of reading the box score can decipher. Scott was able to give Notre Dame 15 minutes, which was more than enough with the starting five all scoring between 11 and 13 points apiece. Sean Kilpatrick led the Bearcats with 16 points off the bench, but given the play of individuals such as Rashad Bishop, Ibrahima Thomas and Cashmere Wright it should come as no surprise that the Bearcats struggled offensively as a team (38.3% FG). Notre Dame did a better job of getting to the foul line, and the mere presence of Scott on the floor provided a boost that Mike Brey's team needed after last week. But they'll need to take it slow with Carleton given the tricky nature of hamstring injuries, as he provides a dimension that isn't always served justice by the numbers.

Top Three Games

1. (13) Purdue 63, Penn State 62

2. Memphis 76, Southern Miss 75 Charles Carmouche's three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left proved to be the difference as the Tigers beat the Golden Eagles for the 15th straight time. Will Barton led Memphis with 15 while Gary Flowers led all Southern Miss with 21.

3. Colgate 80, Lehigh 79 A Mitch Rolls jumper with eight seconds remaining proved to be the difference as the Raiders picked up their first Patriot League victory of the season. Sterling Melville led Colgate with 15 points while C.J. McCollum led all scorers with 24.

Three Notable Performances

1. F Justin Harper (Richmond) 30 points and 10 rebounds in the Spiders' 68-58 win over previously unbeaten (in conference play) George Washington.

2. F J.P. Olukemi (Oklahoma State) 29 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists in the Cowboys' 96-87 overtime win over Iowa State.

3. F Lance Goulbourne (Vanderbilt) 14 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in the Commodores' 84-74 win over Ole Miss.