COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)—Texas A&M’s confidence was sagging after a tough start to Big 12 play.
Nothing like a win over archrival Texas to get things back on track.
Josh Carter scored 19 points and No. 23 Texas A&M cruised to an easy 80-63 win over No. 10 Texas on Wednesday night.
Carter, who had 10 rebounds, has scored at least 10 points in 15 straight games. He helped A&M break a three-game winning streak for Texas (16-4, 3-2 Big 12) and continue a four-year tradition of the home team winning in this series.
“This helps a lot ,” Carter said of the win. “I think some of us lost some confidence with the losses.”
A&M’s Big 12 performance before Wednesday included a 21-point loss to then unranked Kansas State and a tough five overtime home defeat by Baylor a week ago. The Aggies squeaked by Oklahoma State on Saturday before coming home to face the Longhorns.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. “To think where we were a week ago, the world was coming to the end. It was good to bounce back.”
The Longhorns played the Aggies even in the second half but it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor first half where Texas made just 9-of-30 shots and at times seemed off-balance and confused. Texas A&M (17-4, 3-3) shot 64 percent in the first half to make the Longhorns’ lackluster offensive start even more difficult to overcome.
Texas never led in this one, trailed by as many as 22 points in the first half and shot 34 percent.
The Aggies led 46-28 at halftime.
“There was no point in time that I think we guarded them,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We didn’t deserve to win that one in any shape, form or fashion.”
D.J. Augustin’s 3-pointer with about nine minutes left got Texas within 59-48 before this fast-paced game was slowed down by a wild series of events on the next possession.
The already emotionally charged rivalry got even more amped up on a play that began with Augustin being knocked to the floor when he ran into a screen by Bryan Davis and ended when Alexis Wangmene threw an elbow into the back of DeAndre Jordan while the pair fought for a rebound. Wangmene then crashed to the court into a group of cameramen.
Wangmene was given a flagrant technical foul for the hit and ejected from the game. When the replay was shown on the Jumbotron, the record crowd of 13,555 began to boo and hiss menacingly. After his ejection, Wangmene sat at the end of the bench, causing the referees to approach the bench and make him leave the court with a police escort.
Barnes said he didn’t see the hit.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think both teams were playing hard.”
Turgeon downplayed the incident.
“I don’t know if it was as bad as it seemed,” he said. “These kind of games it’s going to be testy and I thought we handled it well.”
Texas cut the lead to 11 points two times after that, but would get no closer and the Aggies got the redeeming win.
Joseph Jones and Dominique Kirk scored 14 points each.
A&M led by 22 points with 1:06 left when Turgeon sat all his starters, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.
Dexter Pittman and Augustin lead the Longhorns with 14 points apiece.
The Longhorns opened the second half with an 8-2 run to get within 48-35 with about 16 minutes left. The Aggies had soon pushed the lead back to 17 points after a layup by Kirk with about 11 minutes left.
Jordan was dazzling offensively as usual with his crowd pleasing dunks, but on this night he was also solid on defense. He took a charge by Pittman with about 12 minutes left in the second half that gave Pittman his fourth foul. Teammate Davis was so excited about it he affectionately slapped him on the head several times, finally drawing a funny look and a ‘that hurt’ from the freshman 7-footer.
Jordan had 10 points and Davis finished with nine.
The Longhorns made just two of their first 13 shots and had five turnovers in the first 10 minutes to help the Aggies build a 29-7 lead. Carter made three 3-pointers in that span to lead Texas A&M.
“They came out hot and made a lot of shots and we didn’t play very good defense,” Augustin said. “That was the key of the game. We didn’t play defense, so you’re not going to win like that.”