Texas A&M lost to Texas last season in a game that took two overtimes to complete. The Aggies likely aren’t eager to play another multiple-overtime contest any time soon.
After bouncing back from a game that seemingly would never end, the 23rd-ranked Texas A&M looks to avenge a close loss to No. 10 Texas as the Big 12 rivals meet for the first time this season on Wednesday night.
A 59-56 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday snapped a three-game losing streak for Texas A&M (16-4, 2-3). That skid included a 116-110 loss in five overtimes to No. 25 Baylor last Wednesday night.
Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M’s first-year coach, said the adversity has helped his team grow.
“This adversity has brought us together. I now feel like I’m in charge, the players are playing for me and it’s just brought us together,” Turgeon said. “Our team unity is better. The guys are cheering for each other, our team defense has gotten better.”
After faltering versus Baylor, it was A&M that was able to make more plays down the stretch Saturday. But the Aggies’ last meeting with the Longhorns (16-3, 3-1) was another heartbreaker—Kevin Durant had 30 points and 16 rebounds, and made 3 of 4 free throws in the final seconds to seal Texas’ 98-96 double-overtime victory on Feb. 28.
Durant went on to become the first freshman to win the Naismith Trophy. This season, the Longhorns have two players - D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams - on the midseason candidate list for that award, announced Tuesday.
Augustin scored 19 points and Abrams broke out of a shooting slump with 17 on Saturday as Texas beat Texas Tech 73-47.
Augustin is second in the Big 12 with 20.7 points per game, and also tops the conference with an average of 5.9 assists. The 6-foot guard is averaging 24.0 points and 6.0 assists in two career games versus Texas A&M.
Abrams, meanwhile, totaled 30 points in the Longhorns’ two games against the Aggies last season. At 5-foot-11, Abrams is Texas’ shortest player, but he is third in the conference with 17.7 points per game and leads the league with 55 3-pointers.
Abrams, though, was stuck in a 7-for-32 slump from beyond the arc in the Longhorns’ first three conference games. He missed his first two 3-pointers on Wednesday, but made three of his last five.
“I kind of felt like I had let my team down in those games,” Abrams said. “But I never lost confidence. I always think when it leaves my hand that it’s going in.”
The Longhorns average 78.7 points this season, but they’ll be facing an Aggies team that is yielding 61.8.
On offense, meanwhile, the Aggies have been held under 50 points in three of their last four games, with the lone exception being their 64-point effort after regulation of their five-overtime loss.
Josh Carter tops Texas A&M with 13.5 points per game, and is averaging 22.0 in his last three contests versus Texas.
The Longhorns won two of those three games, and have won 34 of the past 40 meetings between the teams.