COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas Aggie men's basketball team closes out the 2008 portion of its schedule Wednesday afternoon when it travels down to Houston to take on the Rice Owls at 3 p.m. at Tudor Field House.
Texas A&M leads the series, 105-81, including a 44-43 edge in games played in Houston and a 28-19 lead in games played at Autry Court.
A&M beat the Owls by a score of 68-41 last year in College Station in another New Year’s Eve meeting.
The only other time the teams have met since the SWC disbanded in 1996 was at the 1999 Houston Charity Classic, when A&M pulled out a 56-53 victory at the Compaq Center.
The last time the teams met at Autry Court was in 1996, with Rice posting a 60-55 victory.
A&M is 234-248 against current members of Conference USA. The Aggies only loss of the season was against C-USA member Tulsa (67-56) on Nov. 28 in the South Padre Island Invitational. A&M defeated SMU, 66-56, at home on Dec. 17.
Key Game Notes
A&M plays its first game at Tudor Fieldhouse (formerly Autry Court) in 13 years when the Aggies face former Southwest Conference rival Rice on Wednesday.
Mark Turgeon’s 36-12 record is the second best coaching start in Big 12 history through 48 games. Kansas’ Bill Self was 38-10 in 2003-05.
A&M is 1-0 in true road games this season while Rice is 2-4 at home. The Aggies are 3-1 in all games away from College Station this season.
The Aggies have won seven straight and are coming off a 60-50 win against Sam Houston State at home on Sunday.
Rice is coming off an impressive 79-72 win at Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday. The Owls fell to No. 4-ranked Oklahoma, 70-58, in their last home game on Dec. 22.
A win would make A&M 12-1 for the second straight season, matching the second best record after 12 games in school history. The 1919-20 team finished with a perfect 19-0 mark. Other 12-1 starts were in 1921-22, 1959-60, 2004-05 and 2007-08.
Another Busy Week
Ø The LSU game ended an eight-game stretch that included four games. Sunday’s game against SHSU started a run of four games in nine days to close the non-conference schedule.
Ø After the Rice game, A&M returns home to play host to McNeese State on Saturday and North Dakota on Monday. The Aggies open Big 12 play at Oklahoma State on Jan. 10.
Ø The Owls are in their first season under Coach Ben Braun, who has won 557 victories in more than 31 seasons as a college head coach. Braun came to Rice from California, where he led the Bears to five NCAA Tournament appearances and the 1998 NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
Ø Rice is led by junior guard Cory Pflieger (6-2), who averages 12.3 points per game. Senior guard Rodney Foster (6-1) adds 11.0 points and 4.3 assists per contest.
Ø Two of the Owls’ losses have been to top 10-ranked teams who are also Big 12 members -- No. 6 Texas (77-56 in Austin) and No. 4 Oklahoma (70-58 in Houston).
Ø Rice sophomore guard Bryan Beasley was a redshirt freshman at A&M in 2006-07 when the Aggies advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Beasley has started the last five games for the Owls and is averaging 6.1 points.
Last Year vs. Rice
COLLEGE STATION (AP, Dec. 31, 2007) - Josh Carter and DeAndre Jordan scored 16 points apiece, and Texas A&M (No. 10 AP, No. 12 AP) beat Rice 68-41 Monday for its sixth straight win. Jordan, a 7-foot freshman, also had 12 rebounds and four blocks. The Aggies led by 15 at halftime and pushed their lead to 47-27 on a layup by Jordan midway through the second half. They went on a 6-0 run to make it 59-33 with about 5 minutes left. Lawrence Ghoram had 16 points and six rebounds for Rice (3-8). Joseph Jones added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Aggies, who closed out the first half with an 11-0 run.
Sam Houston State Recap
COLLEGE STATION (AP) - Chinemelu Elonu scored 11 points and had 11 rebounds to help Texas A&M win its seventh straight Sunday night with a 60-50 victory over Sam Houston State. B.J. Holmes came off the bench to add 11 points and Bryan Davis scored 10 and had three blocked shots for the Aggies (11-1). Ashton Mitchell scored 16 points to lead Sam Houston State (5-6). DeLuis Ramirez added 10. Texas A&M led throughout the game. The Aggies shot 41 percent from the field while Sam Houston State shot 33 percent.
Ø Senior Josh Carter owns the school record for career three-point field goals with 250, which ranks eighth in Big 12 history. The old A&M mark was 232 by Bernard King (1999-03). Carter is the most accurate three-point shooter in school history, making 42.5 percent. He led the nation in 2006-07 by making 50.0 percent.
Ø Carter leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage (.887, 47-53), 12th-best nationally among players with at least 50 attempts. The school record for a season is .865 by Mike Floyd in 1974-75. A&M is 58-11 when he scores in double figures.
Ø Carter has had three 20-point games this season, and scored 19 in the big win against LSU. He is averaging a team-best 13.9 points. A two-time honorable mention All-Big 12 pick, he was a second-team preseason selection.
Ø Carter has started in 82 straight games -- every game since the start of his sophomore season. He has played in 113 career games and is on track to break the school record of 132 by Dominique Kirk (2004-08).
Ø Junior Bryan Davis has averaged 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds in the last seven games while making 67.4 (29-43) percent from the field. He leads the team in rebounds (6.7) and blocks (18). Davis was named to the all-tournament team at the South Padre Island Invitational. A&M is 19-3 when Davis scores in double figures.
Ø Junior Donald Sloan has started in 48 straight games since the start of his sophomore year (2007-08). He has scored in double figures in six of the last eight games and tied his career-high with 21 points against Florida A&M. Sloan leads the team in assists (3.8) and ranks fourth in the Big 12 in assist/turnover ratio (2.3).
Ø Junior Chinemelu Elonu has had three double-doubles this season and scored 11 points with 11 boards on Sunday against Sam Houston State. In the last four games, Elonu has averaged 11.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.
Ø Sophomore B.J. Holmes has averaged 10.9 points in the last nine games while making 46.2 percent (18-39) from three-point range. Holmes hit a rainbow three-pointer with two seconds left to send the Alabama game into overtime. He scored a career-high 16 points against Alabama and added 14 against Arizona.
Ø Junior Derrick Roland has averaged 8.7 points in the last three games and scored 10 against SMU, making 4-of-7 from the field. Roland is regarded as one of the country’s top defenders and held Arizona’s Chase Budinger to just 3 points on 1-of-6 shooting in the second half of A&M’s come-from-behind victory.
Ø Sophomore Nate Walkup has become the Aggies’ new “Mr. Clutch” for making big shots in tight games. His trey against Arizona with 20 seconds left proved to be the game-winner. He hit a three-pointer with 14 seconds left at Alabama, which set up B.J. Holmes trey at the end of regulation that sent the game into overtime. Walkup also hit key jumpers late in close games against Stephen F. Austin and SMU.
Ø Freshman David Loubeau has scored at least 4 points in all but two games this season. He scored a career-high 12 points with 8 rebounds vs. Kent State and added a career-best 9 rebounds against Tulsa.
Ø A&M set Big 12 and A&M records for free throw percentage by making 20-of-20 against Florida A&M.
Ø The Aggies made just 64.5 percent from the free throw line through the first five games and ranked last in the Big 12 last season at .633. The Aggies are third in the Big 12 this season at 70.7 percent.
Ø The Aggies are 30-of-33 (.909) from the free throw line in the last two minutes of “close games,” which are defined as games within 10 points. In the last five games, the Aggies are 21-of-23 (.913) in “crunch time.
Ø A&M has posted an average scoring margin of +9.8 points per game. The Aggie are out-scoring their opponents by an average of +8.1 points per game from the free throw line.
Ø The Aggies rallied from 14-point deficits to beat Arizona and Alabama. A&M was five points down with 15 seconds left in regulation against Alabama, but came back to win in overtime.
Ø A&M had just 4 turnovers (16 assists) against Arizona, a school record for fewest in a game. Turnovers were not kept as an official statistic until the mid-1970s.
Ø The Aggies made 50.0 percent from the field against LSU, which had led the nation in field goal percentage defense at .333.
Ø A&M posted a 33-26 rebounding edge against LSU, which led the nation in rebounding margin.
Ø A&M’s 75 home wins in the last four years are the second most in the nation in that period behind Memphis (79).
Ø A&M is 63-19 in the last three seasons, ranking it among the winningest teams in the country in that span.
Ø A&M is one of just nine schools to win an NCAA Tournament game in each of the last three seasons.
Ø A&M and Kansas are the only Big 12 schools to win at least 21 games in each of the last four seasons.
Ø In the last 10 games, the Aggies are averaging 23.4 bench points.
Ø A&M has scored at least 22 points in the paint in all 12 games, averaging 31.7 points in the paint per game.
Ø The Aggies are receiving votes in both major polls are ranked No. 43 in the RPI.
Family Game Day
Ø Texas A&M basketball will present the Family Game Day Experience on Saturday, Jan. 3, when the women’s team plays George Washington (5 p.m.) and the men’s team plays McNeese State (8 p.m.).
Ø Children (Grades 8 and younger) will be treated to an open-gym with the A&M players as well as t-shirts, posters, etc. Adults will receive a tour and a Q&A session with the coaches.
Ø To register, call 979-845-4531. Cost is $35 for children and $45 for adults and includes game tickets. Without tickets, the price is $30 for children and $40 for adults.