Monday, February 18, 2008

Keys to the Game: Texas v. A&M

DJ CONTRIBUTING.... It's no secret that Augustin has struggled shooting the past 5 games. Most likely, it has to do with the fact that he has played nearly every single minute this season. DJ's legs may be getting tired, and that is understandable. However, despite his poor shooting performance against Baylor, DJ may have been the offensive MVP with his game management and ball distribution. DJ still took the ball strong to the basket, but was able to dish the ball to an open Damion James or Gary Johnson. There is no way Texas could have won in Waco if it weren't for Augustin (late free-throws aside).

FREE-THROWS... Texas is not only going to have to get to the free-throw line often, but they are going to have to actually hit them. Texas has been better as a team from the foul line recently, but had a hiccup in Waco as DJ and AJ Abrams missed 3 FT in the last minute. In College Station, Texas only hit 11-21 from the foul line. Texas needs to take more than 20 FT tonight, and they are going to have to make more than 50%. Last A&M game, DJ had ZERO FTs. He is going to have to get to the hoop and draw fouls. A&M can be prone to fouls, so Texas needs to take advantage of this. Get the A&M big men in foul trouble and make your free-throws, and Texas has a lot better chance at winning this game.

BIG MEN PLAY... Damion, Gary, Dex, Connor and Alexis are going to be big parts of this game. At least 3 of these 5 are going to have to step up and have great games. Whether it be Damion & Gary crashing the boards and getting to the line, Connor from the outside, or Pittman pounding inside, there needs to be a presence felt from the Texas big men. Gary Johnson only played 4 minutes in the first A&M game, but he is obviously going to see many more minutes this time around. And Barnes was so disappointed in the way Damion played in College Station, that he kept him out of the starting line up for a few games. Something tells me James is going to be on fire tonight and be huge force for Texas.

CONTAIN JOSH CARTER... For the most part, Texas knows they might struggle containing the Aggie big men. De'Andre Jordan, Joe Jones and Brian Davis are going to be strong inside and outplay the Texas big men. So the area Texas needs to control is the shooting of Josh Carter. Carter has killed Texas teams in the past and dropped 19 on them earlier his year. You may see Texas in a lot of zone defense and they are going to have to close out and get a hand in Carter's face on the kick out pass from the post. They simply cannot allow him to stand and fire uncontested 3's all night. If Texas can contain Carter and the Aggie outside shooting, then Texas will have a much better chance at pulling off this critical home game.

JUST WIN... That's what Texas has been doing lately. It hasn't always been pretty. There have been bad starts, poor shooting, come backs, late game rallies and almost blown opportunities. But somehow Texas keeps on winning and have pulled off 5 straight wins and 8 of their last 9. Not lost in all of these wins, is the fact that Texas now controls its own destiny in competing for the Big 12 regular season title. They are tied in the loss column (8-2) with Kansas (9-2) and still have to face Kansas State (8-2). Texas has the tie-break over Kansas, and can knock out the Wildcats with a win in Manhattan. Texas' tough road to the Big 12 Championship starts tonight against the Aggies. If they can win tonight, the only real threat to derailing their title plans are the Kansas State Wildcats, on February 25th.


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