Oklahoma dominated Texas A&M over the previous seven seasons, winning all 14 meetings. Much has changed for both programs this season, though, and the Aggies hope to end that streak and rebound from their first Big 12 loss when they host the Sooners on Saturday.
The sixth-ranked Aggies (16-3, 4-1) haven’t beaten Oklahoma (11-7, 3-3) since a 74-72 victory on Feb. 24, 1999. The Sooners were a perennial NCAA tournament team under former coach Kelvin Sampson, who left to take over at Indiana this season.
It’s been a different story this season, though, as Texas A&M’s ongoing resurgence under coach Billy Gillispie has the Aggies challenging for their first Big 12 title, while Oklahoma is still adjusting to new coach Jeff Capel.
Capel is starting two sophomores and a freshman, and the Sooners’ inexperience and a new system are major reasons that they may have trouble notching their 10th straight 20-win season.
Texas A&M was not in the Top 25 in any of the last 14 meetings with Oklahoma, which was ranked 12 of those times. The Aggies, though, will be the favored team Saturday as they seek to extend their 18-game home winning streak.
Along with ending Oklahoma’s domination of the series, the Aggies will be trying to get back on track after having their nine-game winning streak snapped in a 70-68 loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday. Texas A&M fell into a tie for first place in the Big 12 with the Red Raiders, No. 8 Kansas and Texas.
Texas Tech shot 48.7 percent, the third-highest total of the season allowed by Texas A&M, which had trouble with coach Bob Knight’s motion offense.
“That’s a very difficult offense to defend,” Aggies guard Acie Law said. “They made plays tonight and they made more than we did.”
Law scored a season-high 26 points, but Josh Carter suffered through a miserable night. The sophomore guard failed to score for the first time this season and fouled out for the second time in three games.
The Aggies are 13-0 at home this season, winning all but one of those games by double digits. Their last home defeat was an 83-73 loss to Kansas last Jan. 25.
The defeat to Texas Tech was atypical for Texas A&M, which leads the Big 12 in field-goal percentage defense at 35.2. Oklahoma is third in that department at 38.0.
Defense was a major reason Oklahoma turned in its best road effort of the season in a 66-61 loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State on Monday. The Sooners limited the archrival Cowboys to 38.2 percent shooting and were within one point with 25.9 seconds to go, but fell to 0-4 on the road this season.
“We hadn’t been a good road team all year, and I felt we did some good things to put ourselves in a position to win,” Capel said.
“On the same note, on the road when you’re playing against a good team in a tough environment you really have to minimize your mistakes, and I felt we turned it over too much and we had a lull there in the second half for a while where we couldn’t score.”
Sooners forward Nate Carter has started the last four games and emerged as a force in Big 12 play, averaging 18.3 points in six games. He’s increased his scoring in each conference game, notching 23 points to go with 11 rebounds— seven offensive—in Monday’s loss.
Carter averaged only 4.4 points during the non-conference season.