College Basketball: Texas A&M at Texas – Texas Favored
It’s crowded at the top of the Big 12, with three teams vying for the regular season title.
Two in-state rivals hope to put a dent in the other’s hopes of capturing the crown when seventh-ranked Texas A&M visits No. 15 Texas on Wednesday.
Both teams are trying to keep pace with Kansas, which beat Oklahoma 67-65 on Monday night to get to 13-2 in the conference and open a slim lead on the Aggies and Longhorns.
Texas A&M (24-4, 12-2), which hosts Missouri in its regular season finale Saturday, is a half-game back, but has beaten Kansas and Texas this season. The Longhorns (21-7, 11-3) are 1 1/2 behind, but face Texas A&M and Kansas in their last two contests.
Win both, and Texas can do no worse than a share of first place.
"I’m not sure you could ask for a better situation, the fact that you’re getting ready to play the two teams that are expected to win this league," Longhorns coach Rick Barnes said.
"It is not going to be easy this time of year. It comes down to not how, but how many (wins). You get them any way you can get them."
The Aggies defeated the Longhorns 100-82 on Feb. 5 in a game that was closer than the score indicated. Texas A&M led 76-73 in the second half before ending the contest on a 24-9 run.
The Longhorns haven’t lost since, winning five straight to jump back into the title picture. Texas beat Oklahoma 68-58 on Saturday thanks to 32 points and 10 rebounds from freshman Kevin Durant, one of the leading contenders for national player of the year.
It was Durant’s seventh 30-point game of the season and his 17th double-double. He leads the Big 12 with 24.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, and is the only player in the country in the top 10 in both categories.
Durant had 28 points and 15 rebounds in the earlier loss to Texas A&M, while Aggies guard Acie Law – Durant’s top competition for Big 12 player of the year honors – had 21 points, 15 assists and just one turnover.
Law scored a season-high 31 points to help the Aggies beat Baylor 97-87 on Saturday, the team’s third consecutive victory. Law, a freshman in 2003-04 when Texas A&M went 0-16 in the conference, has become the go-to player for the Aggies, averaging 17.6 points this season after also leading his team in scoring last season.
"I think Durant is the best player in college basketball," Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton said. "But Acie may be the most valuable to his team in the Big 12. You could make the argument that Durant will be national player of the year and Acie Law could be Big 12 player of the year."
The voting for those awards could hinge on which team captures the conference title. If the Aggies can win at Texas – the Longhorns are 14-1 at the Frank Erwin Center this season – then they would have a chance Saturday against Missouri to clinch at least a share of first at home, where they’ve only lost once in the last 23 games.
Texas A&M has its best record after 28 games and needs two victories to match the 1979-80 team for the most in school history.
Despite the Aggies’ play this season, the Longhorns have dominated the series, winning 36 of the last 43 meetings and 18 of 19 at home. Texas A&M’s only win in Austin in the last 20 years came in 2002.
by: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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