Texas A&M v. Baylor (The Recap)
When I started writing for Bracketography.com a couple months ago, I made a solemn pact with myself that no matter what happened during the Big 12 conference season to my beloved Texas A&M basketball team, I would make sure to handle the recaps and reports on the team with the same class and professionalism that I exhibited when I was Sports Editor in College Station, Texas. That’s exactly what every other reporter would do, right?
Well after spending 3 1/2 hours in front of my computer on Wednesday night watching an “inside” feed of the game, while at the same time biting my nails to the quick and missing my wife’s salmon all together, I came to the conclusion that staying the straight and narrow isn’t always the right way to do things. Because of the magnitude of this game, I feel compelled to discuss the game as a true fan, instead of reporting the game as “just another 5 OT thriller”. (can you sense the sarcasm?)
Let me first tell you how it feels to sit through a game like that and have your team not come out on top. It feels like a combination of getting teabagged, punched in the face by Mike Tyson, and then being told that your dog died. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but Aggie basketball holds a special place in my life.
The game ended up setting the record for the longest game in Big 12 history, while only missing out of the NCAA record for most overtimes by two. To sum it up: it was a game you’ll expect to see once every 10 years.
The worst part? The game wasn’t even on television. Yep. That’s right, the game wasn’t on a single station. The local paper in College Station Thursday morning reported that 7,200 people were watching the first overtime online. And by the start of the fifth OT there were a massive 8,200 people on their computer watching one of the best games in conference history!
What a shame that ESPN didn’t pick this game up. It was bad enough that the nation had to watch Kansas pummel Iowa State that night. But to miss putting a game like this on television is one of the main reasons why sports in general should have the option to change games in the event that another conference matchup is more appealing to the the public.
What was at stake:
A&M came into the “Battle on the Brazos” (named after the Brazos River that flows between the two schools that are a mere 90 minutes apart) with a lot to prove to the tournament committee after faltering in consecutive road games at Texas Tech and Kansas State the previous week. The game was at home, and all signs pointed at A&M making a big turnaround. More than anything, the Aggies just needed a win to forget about the two horrific road games.
For Baylor, the season had been a script straight out of the movies. Big wins against South Carolina, Winthrop and Notre Dame on the road had given the Bears their best record in school history. However, they were still without a big win against a road win against a ranked Big 12 opponent. Win one against the Aggies and Baylor was another step closer to March glory.
A&M and Baylor went blow for blow for two halves. It looked like the Bears were going to close the game out with 4:59 to play when guard Henry Dugat hit a layup to stretch the lead to nine at 60-51. However, A&M wasn’t going to go away easily. The Aggies responded with nine unanswered points, including a Donald Sloan dunk that forced overtime.
The first two extra periods produced more of the same frantic play that was seen from both squads the entire night. Dugat and Curtis Jerrells continues to lead the Bears closer and closer to a victory, while senior forwards Joseph Jones (13 points) and Bryan Davis (30 points) refused to let the Aggies fall out of the game.
In the end though, the senior guard play from Dugat and Jerrells (36 points) was just too much, as the Bears wore down the Aggies in 5 OT’s to snap A&M’s 13-game home win streak this season at Reed Arena.
Jerrells’ comments after the game much summed up the entire night perfectly. “I lost count of the overtimes,” said Jerrells, who ended up knocking over the mic in the process of leaning forward for a question. “I guess I’m tired.”
Crunching the numbers:
(Stats courtesy of Aggieathletics.com)
|Team Stat Comparison|
|FG Made-Attempted||35-97 (36.1%)||35-94 (37.2%)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-34 (20.6%)||4-23 (17.4%)|
|FT Made-Attempted||39-47 (83.0%)||36-59 (61.0%)|
|Points off Turnovers||20||18|
|Second Chance Points||15||22|
|Points in the Paint||44||62|
|Fast Break Points||21||7|
They’re called free throws for a reason, but apparently A&M never got that memo. In a game where every point counted, the Aggies couldn’t get it done from the line, shooting a paltry 61 percent to Baylor’s 83.
In games past, the Aggies were able to mask their ineptitude from the line, but the issue still remains that all weaknesses seem to be magnified against quality opponents, especially those of the Big 12 variety.
Other than the free throws, the constant errors from the guards made the game almost unbearable to watch. Countless times Donald Sloan and Dominique Kirk forced shots and threw the ball away. In the end you expect more from your guards in a critical game like this at home.
Regardless of A&M’s errors, the Bears deserved all the credit in the end for their superior guard play. Especially since they were playing five men down (due to fouling out) during most of the fourth and fifth overtimes.
It’s a huge win for Baylor, and another benchmark the Bears can use come selection time.
For A&M the loss is big, but not as big as losing Saturday’s game at Oklahoma State would have been. Lose that game and the Aggies would have been looking at a four-game slide; regardless of if your name is Texas A&M or Duke, that kind of skid can mean trouble when you’re pleading your case to a tournament committee. Thankfully, the Aggies prevailed in a thriller 59-56.