Texas A&M suffered its first defeat in more than six weeks in its last outing, losing to one of college basketball’s most legendary coaches. The Aggies will try to avoid another loss when they meet one of the game’s youngest stars.
The 10th-ranked Aggies look to avoid their first back-to-back losses in more than a year as they visit freshman phenom Michael Beasley and Big 12 rival Kansas State on Saturday.
Texas A&M (15-2, 1-1 Big 12) had an eight-game win streak snapped with a 68-53 loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday. The Aggies shot a season-low 34.0 percent and committed a season-high 20 turnovers as Red Raiders coach Bob Knight earned his 900th career win—most in Division I history.
“We were really bad,” said Texas A&M Coach Mark Turgeon, whose team had outscored each of its previous eight opponents by at least 17 points. “That’s the only way I can put it. I think Tech was really good and we were bad.”
The Aggies haven’t lost consecutive games since falling to then-No. 9 LSU and then-No. 1 UCLA on Dec. 5 and 9, 2006. They haven’t lost back-to-back conference games since losing at then-No. 19 Oklahoma and then-No. 7 Texas on Feb. 1 and 4, 2006.
Kansas State (11-4, 1-0), however, has the star power to pull off an upset. Beasley is fourth in the nation in scoring at 24.8 points per game and first in rebounding at 13.1 per contest.
Beasley, who turned 19 on Jan. 9, had 32 points and 11 rebounds in winning the first Big 12 game of his college career last Saturday. He made the game-winner with 2.3 seconds left as the Wildcats edged Oklahoma 84-82.
“It was good, but we can’t get overly excited because we have got 15 more Big 12 games to go. One is not enough,” said Beasley, who has six 30-point games in his first 15 career contests. He’s just one shy of Kansas State’s single-season record, set by Bob Boozer during the 1958-59 season and matched by Norris Coleman in 1985-86.
Bill Walker, Kansas State’s other freshman starter, added 22 points in last week’s win. He’s averaging 23.0 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 59.6 percent from the field in his last four games.
“It’s the Big 12. I said it the other day, we have 16 quality games looking at us in the face,” Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. “Give credit to our kids, a bunch of freshmen. Rather than come in and be lousy in practice because we didn’t win some of these games, or dwell on the negatives, we battled and competed. Like I told them after the game, I couldn’t be any more proud of a basketball team than I was tonight.”
Martin’s young team will be challenged by Texas A&M, which ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring defense, holding opponents to 58.2 points per game.
The Aggies, though, are winless in eight trips to Manhattan and trail the all-time series, 13-5. They beat the Wildcats 69-65 in the teams’ lone meeting last season on Jan. 6, but have never won back-to-back games in the series.