TEAM DEFENSE... By Texas was amazing. Texas put together their best team defensive game of the year by holding the Aggies to 19% shooting in the first half and just 30% for the game. The Longhorn defense swarmed all night on the Aggie guards, disrupting the post entry passes and preventing open shots. Justin Mason seemed to be everywhere on the defensive end as he hounded dribblers and crashed the boards for rebounds. AJ seemed to play his best defense, since he matched up with Brandon Rush of Kansas, as he was in the face of Josh Carter all night causing Carter to go 3-11 from the field (1-5 3pts) and score just 11 points. Connor Atchley, Damion James and Dexter Pittman played some solid post defense as no Aggie big man scored in double figures and Texas recorded 12 blocks. The key to Texas' defense was effort and intensity; exactly the kind of defense that keeps teams playing in March.
JOSEPH JONES... Is broken. I don't know what exactly was the turning point, but it just feels like Jones has given up on basketball. There was a time when I feared him more than any other player on the floor. He always seemed to bring it against the Horns, hitting mid-range jumpers, pounding it inside and patrolling the lane on defense. Now, I sometimes forget he is out there. Last night, Jones went 1-7 from the floor and left the Erwin Center with 3 points. But the problems with Jones are not limited to one game against Texas. Jones is having the worst season of his four year career at A&M as he is averaging career lows in points, rebounds and FG%. As a sophomore, Jones seemed a lock to be a high pick in the NBA and some even speculated on his early exit to the pros. After this year, it will be a shock if Jones even gets a sniff from the NBA. Its sad to see. Even though he is an Aggie, I always like and feared him as an opponent.
JUSTIN MASON... Is the glue of this Texas team. I am convinced, more than ever, that Texas is going to go as far as Mason takes them. He may not put in a bunch of points, but he is a high energy guy that does the things that don't show up in the box score. Whether it be shutting down the opponents best perimeter player or hitting the boards, Mason is the most consistent defensive force the Texas has. Mason has also seemed to have overcome his offensive mini-slump and can be counted on to occasionally take the ball to the rim and hit a few open threes. If Texas can get Mason's usual defensive and rebounding efforts, along with 6-8 points a game, they will be a formidable matchup for any squad in the NCAAs.
DJ's EXHAUSTION... May have been over stated. Many have been saying that DJ's recent struggles have been due to his excessive playing time, and that his legs are just wearing down as the season progresses. Augustin seemed to put that talk to rest as he exploded for 27 points on 9-14 shooting, with 9 assists. DJ was hitting all the shots he seemed to be missing in the last 5 games and he looked much more confident taking the ball to the basket. I think we can safely say that DJ went through a mini-slump and is now turning the corner to regain his top point guard status. I think part of the problem was that DJ was putting to much pressure on himself and caused his struggles. Last night he looked more relaxed and confident as he knew when to drive, pull up for the shot or dish it to a teammate. If there was any doubt that DJ had the energy to finish the season was put to rest as DJ took a late game pass and blew by his defender to make a lay up and get fouled on the play. Of course, it also helped that Texas had a commanding lead the entire game and allowed DJ to get a little rest on the bench.