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Hoops Preview: #25 Texas A&M vs. Texas

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It's Thanksgiving week and we're playing that ugly, ugly shade of burnt orange. It just feels right.

On Thanksgiving Day in 2011, Justin Tucker nailed a 40-yard field goal as time expired...  which buried Kyle Field under a swarm of Longhorn players and coaches. Seventy-five days later, Texas walked out of Reed Arena with a 70-68 victory in the last Big XII meeting between the two schools, which was their fifth straight over A&M. And two years, three months, and three weeks after that, we watched the Texas baseball team dogpile at Reckling Park, having just sent Aggie Baseball home in the 2014 Rice Regional.

Those are the most recent meetings among the respective schools' major programs.

If those 100 words don't piss you off, this article probably isn't for you.

Note: If that opening paragraph really doesn't bother you... best of luck in your upcoming #brand exposure endeavors. Hopefully we can secure the home and home against Rutgers you so deeply desire.

For the rest of you... you're in the right place. Because this is a place where Texas hate is accepted. Where local rivalries aren't worth tossing aside, and where mocking co-workers from a different school is considered acceptable behavior. We aren't talking about barber shops in the locker room, we aren't comparing conference strength, and we sure as hell aren't assuming victories through the transitive property.

We're talking about an actual game against the Texas Longhorns. An actual game against our biggest rival, where we'll line up against a bunch of guys wearing burnt orange and try to kick their asses.

If you're still interested, please read on. Because there's a good chance that the days of Texas having scoreboard across the three major sports are almost over.

Here's why.

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Jalen Jones is about to be unleashed

The Longhorns have a formidable, experienced front line... but the past few games showed us that we have a pretty respectable group of forwards ourselves. And that didn't even consider the addition of Jalen Jones, the Aggies' 2014-2015 2nd-team All SEC forward (held out early due to NCAA transfer rules).

He's outstanding on the post, he can step out to hit any mid-range jumper you need, and he's reliable in crunch time. And most importantly, he's back in the mix tomorrow. Here's how the squads stack up on the blocks:

Aggies Pos. Longhorns
Tyler Davis (6'10" Freshman) C Cameron Ridley (6'10" Senior)
Jalen Jones (6'6" Senior) PF Connor Lammert (6'9" Junior)
Tonny Trocha (6'10" Sophomore) Bench (C) Prince Ibeh (6'10" Junior)
Elijah Thomas (6'9" Freshman) Bench (PF) Shaquille Cleare (6'9" Junior)

Make no mistake, the Longhorns really do have a solid group down low... but their height and experience have been touted as the reason they'll win tomorrow. That same height and experience did not hold up well against an extremely young Washington Husky front line, nor did it play particularly well against Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Yes, we have a common opponent

It may be early, but A&M (four games) and Texas (two games) already have a common opponent this year: Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Let's take a look at the two squads' home performance against the Islanders:

Aggies Statistic Longhorns
95 Points Scored 67
25 Margin of Victory 11
29 Defensive Rebounds 32
8 Offensive Rebounds allowed 22
22 Assists 13
16 Turnovers 18
54.4% Field Goal % 40.4%

Sure, it's one game... but that's a pretty lopsided look. We spread the ball, we scored more efficiently, and we boxed out on the defensive glass. Our guys played an objectively better game against TAMU-CC.

Both teams have an excellent scoring threat

We'll walk in to most games knowing that Danuel House is the best player on the floor... but that might not be the case tomorrow. Longhorns guard Isaiah Taylor (27 points in a tight 77-71 loss against Washington) is the real deal, and he was named to the 2015-2016 All-Big XII team.

This will be first time all year that A&M has been asked to deal with an offensive weapon of this caliber, and it will be interesting to see how we react.

The Shaka Smart process has just started

This.... this is the great unknown. Shaka Smart, the Longhorns (admittedly great) new head coach, has a radically different approach than outgoing mainstay Rick Barnes. In addition, Smart is still feeling out the rotation and learning where players fit, running the bench eleven deep during his only two games so far (neither of which were blowouts).

If the Longhorns really "get" the Smart system for the first time tomorrow, we could have a real game on our hands.

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So, where does that leave us?

First, let's take a closer look at some of A&M's offensive statistics for the year. And keep in mind that these statistics measure all 351 D1 basketball programs:

  • Scoring - 12th (93.5)
  • Field Goal % - 5th (55.9%)
  • Three Point % - 3rd (47.1%)
  • Assists - 1st (24.8)

Now consider the addition of senior Jalen Jones, who is almost certain to make an instant impact.

Finally... look at what the Longhorns have shown us so far. Their supposed strength down low hasn't materialized, they played objectively inferior basketball against our only common opponent, and all signs point to a coaching transition that isn't quite in place.

Is a sudden turnaround possible for both schools? Sure. It's college basketball. Weird stuff happens.

But if both squads keep playing at their current level, A&M won't just win this game. They'll win it comfortably.

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TV Information

One final note, tomorrow's game will be played on AXS, a channel that might be tough to find. Please consult the channel guide below, which we will make sure to include in tomorrow's GameThread as well.

Austin:

  • AT&T U-verse Ch. 1106
  • DirecTV Ch. 340
  • DISH Ch. 167
  • Grande Ch. 880
  • GVTC Ch. 580
  • Suddenlink Ch. 219 and Ch. 88

College Station/Waco-Temple-Bryan

  • AT&T U-verse Ch. 1106
  • DirecTV Ch. 340
  • DISH Ch. 167
  • Suddenlink Ch. 219 and Ch. 88

Dallas:

  • AT&T U-verse Ch. 1106
  • Charter Ch. 770
  • DirecTV Ch. 340
  • DISH Ch. 167
  • Grande Ch. 880
  • Verizon FiOS Ch. 569

Houston:

  • AT&T U-verse Ch. 1106
  • Charter Ch. 770
  • Comcast Ch. 673
  • Consolidated Communications Ch. 770
  • DirecTV Ch. 340
  • DISH Ch. 167
  • Grande Ch. 880
  • Verizon FiOS Ch. 569

BTHO tu