COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- A reunion with a former Big 12 running mate and a chance to build momentum heading into the new year is on tap for the Texas A&M men’s basketball team as the Aggies take on Oklahoma inside Houston’s Toyota Center Saturday at 6 p.m.
The contest will be the nightcap of a college basketball doubleheader, dubbed the Dickies Shootout presented by Target, inside the home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Prior to tip-off between the Aggies and Sooners, crosstown rivals Houston and Rice will face off at 3:30 p.m.
ESPNU will bring all the action of the Texas A&M-Oklahoma matchup to a national television audience with Brett Dolan (play-by-play) and Reid Gettys (commentary) on the call. Additionally, the contest can be heard on the Texas A&M Sports Network with local coverage in the Bryan-College Station area on WTAW (1620 AM).
Texas A&M (8-2) features a young, talented roster and is off to a solid start this season, earning wins over Houston and McNeese State during its last two outings. The Aggies are seeking to renew their commitment to strong defensive basketball in the contest as they enter the weekend leading the SEC in both scoring defense, yielding just 61.7 points per content, and field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .370 shooting percentage on the year.
“We’ve got to get back to finding our true identity,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said during his weekly press conference. “Hopefully, it starts on the defensive end.”
The A&M defensive effort will be challenged by the Sooners, who rank among the national leaders and second in the Big 12 by averaging 88.4 points per contest.
“They are really a good offensive team, one of the top in the country,” Kennedy added. “We are going to have to do a good job of guarding them.”
For their part, the Aggies have also shown improved offensive production in recent games, sparked by the insertion of freshman Davonte Fitzgerald and junior Jamal Jones into the starting lineup.
In the three games since joining the starting five, Fitzgerald is averaging 10.3 points per contest after maintaining a 4.0 point per game clip as a reserve in the first seven games of the year. Jones, meanwhile, is producing a team-best 18.5 points per contest in two games as a starter while also piling up 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Junior forward Kourtney Roberson continues to be consistent and proficient on the court for the Aggies. The Arcadia, La., native enters the OU game leading the Aggies in both scoring (13.4 points per game) and rebounding (7.5 rebounds per game) while pacing the SEC in field goal percentage (.684).
Oklahoma, led by third-year head coach Lon Kruger, enters the weekend with a 10-1 record with its only defeat coming at the hands of then top-ranked Michigan State on Nov. 23 inside the Barclays
Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The high-scoring Sooners have enjoyed impressive continuity and have used the same starting lineup in each game this season with all five starters averaging double-digit points.
Senior guard Cameron Clark leads the way by producing 18.9 points per game this season, meanwhile, OU has gotten great contributions from rookie guard Jordan Woodard. The Arcadia, Okla., product was named the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week on Dec. 17 after recording career highs of 24 points and eight assists during a win over Tulsa.
• The Aggies return to the court Saturday night when they face former Big 12 rival Oklahoma at Houston's Toyota Center ... The two programs are no stranger to one another as they met annually from 1997-2012 in Big 12 Conference play ... The all-time series stands at 30-10 in favor of OU, but the Aggies have won six of the last eight meetings.
• Texas A&M men's basketball has played two previous games inside the Toyota Center ... The Aggies defeated LSU 72-61 on Dec. 20, 2008, before falling to New Mexico 84-81 on Dec. 12, 2009.
• The contest will serve as the final game of the inaugural Big 12-SEC challenge, thus far the Big 12 has taken six of the nine games played.
• The two teams will enter Saturday's contest with opposing profiles early this season as the Sooners rank second in the Big 12 in scoring offense (88.4 points per game) while the Aggies lead the SEC in scoring defense (61.7 points per game allowed) and field goal percentage defense (.370).
• Sophomore guard Alex Caruso continues to develop into one of the SEC's most dynamic and well-rounded players ... The College Station native enters Saturday's contest leading the SEC in both total assists (46) and assists per game (4.6) while ranking second in the league in total steals (23) ... Additionally, he's seen his scoring average jump from 5.5 points per game last season to a 9.5 point per game clip in 10 games this season.
• Junior guard Jamal Jones was inserted into the starting line-up against Houston on Dec. 4 to give the Aggies an offensive boost and the Wynne, Ark., product has not disappointed ... Jones responded during his first start by going 7-of-10 from 3-point range to contribute a game-high 21 points to go along with a season-best seven rebounds and two assists ... The seven 3-pointers left him just one shy of the A&M record for a single game ... In two games since joining the starting lineup, Jones is averaging a team-best 18.5 points per game with a total of 12 rebounds and seven assists.
• Junior forward Kourtney Roberson enters the weekend leading the SEC and ranking fourth nationally in field goal percentage (.684).
SERIES HISTORY VS. OKLAHOMA (OU LEADS 30-10)
• Saturday marks the 41st time the Aggies & Sooners have squared off on the hardwood ... OU holds a 30-10 lead in the all-time series.
• Last season, the two squads squared off on Dec. 15th inside Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena with the Sooners earning a 64-54 win ... Elston Turner led the way with 17 points for the Aggies, who were guilty of 19 turnovers in the loss.
• As members of the Big 12 Conference the two schools met annually from 1997-2012.
• Texas A&M has won six of the last eight meetings with the Sooners.
• The series dates back to Dec. 16, 1960, when Texas A&M fell to OU 69-59 in Norman.
Following the showdown with Oklahoma, Texas A&M will have a 10-day break for the holidays before its next contest, which will come on Dec. 31 vs. North Texas at Reed Arena.
BIG 12-SEC CHALLENGE
The Texas A&M-Oklahoma game serves as the final contest of the inaugural Big 12-SEC Challenge, a series of 10 games between the two leagues put together and aired by ESPN. The Big 12 has already clinched this year’s series by taking six of the nine games played to date. The A&M-OU matchup will be the final game of the challenge and will air on ESPNU. The results of the first nine games:
• Nov. 14 (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) – Alabama def. Texas Tech 76-64
• Dec. 2 (Ames, Iowa) – Iowa State def. Auburn 99-70
• Dec. 2 (Austin, Texas) – Texas def. Vanderbilt 70-64
• Dec. 5 (Starkville, Miss.) – TCU def. Mississippi State 71-61
• Dec. 5 (Columbia, Mo.) – Missouri def. West Virginia 80-71
• Dec. 5 (Manhattan, Kan.) – Kansas State def. Ole Miss 61-58
• Dec. 6 (Stillwater, Okla.) – Oklahoma State def. South Carolina 79-52
• Dec. 6 (Arlington, Texas) – Baylor def. Kentucky 67-62
• Dec. 10 (Gainesville, Fla.) – Florida def. Kansas 67-61
• Dec. 21 (Houston, Texas) – Oklahoma vs Texas A&M
SHUFFLING THE STARTING LINEUP
For the first seven games this season, Texas A&M's starting lineup was as consistent as any in the country as the same five starters (Alex Caruso, Shawn Smith, Jordan Green, Antwan Space and Kourtney Roberson) walked onto the court to tip-off each contest.
However, after suffering their first loss of the season and having learned much about the young team, Texas A&M's coaching staff felt a change was in order. Seeking to supplement the team's offensive punch, freshman forward Davonte Fitzgerald was inserted into the starting lineup for Nov. 30th's contest against SMU. The Atlanta, Ga., native responded with a team-high 12 points against the Mustangs, earning him a second straight start against Houston on Dec. 4 where he again reached double digits with 10 points.
In the three games since joining the starting five, Fitzgerald is averaging 10.3 points per contest after maintaining a 4.0 point per game clip as a reserve in the first seven games of the year.
With offensive production in mind, A&M made another alteration to its starting lineup prior to the Houston contest on Dec. 4 as junior guard Jamal Jones earned his first career starting assignment. The Wynne, Ark., native responded in a big way by making 7-of-10 shots from beyond the 3-point arc to contribute a game-high 21 points to go along with a personal-best seven rebounds. The seven three-pointers left Jones just one shy of the A&M single game record.
During his two games as a starter, Jones is averaging a team-leading 18.5 points per contest, while piling up 12 rebounds and seven assists.
GREEN COMING INTO HIS OWN AS A JUNIOR
For his first two seasons on the Aggie roster Jordan Green was regarded as an outstanding teammate and a player who showed flashes of being a contributor on the court but could not maintain that solid level of play on consistent basis. Green seems to have turned a corner this season as has been one of the leaders both on and off the court during the Aggies' strong start to the season.
The Flower Mound, Texas, native has started each game this season and has shown marked improvement in virtually every offensive category. Through 10 games this season, Green ranks fourth among the Aggies in scoring by maintaining a 8.9 point-per-game clip, while shooting an impressive .615 from the field. Additionally, he paces A&M in free throw shooting by holding a .800 mark at the charity stripe.
Perhaps Green's biggest moment of the year thus far came during Nov. 15th's victory over Rice as he broke a 65-65 tie with a game-winning 3-pointer that came with only 6.7 seconds left in the contest.
AGGIES PUERTO RICO-BOUND IN 2014
The teams for the 2014 Puerto Rico Tip-Off were announced Nov. 20 and the Texas A&M men’s basketball team will highlight an impressive field at the event which will take place Thursday, Friday and Sunday, Nov. 20, 21 and 23, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Joining the Aggies at the tournament will be Boston College, College of Charleston, Connecticut, Dayton, George Mason, New Mexico and West Virginia.
The 2014 Puerto Rico Tip-Off will showcase 12 games over the three days. Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through a bracketed-tournament format. The undefeated teams after the first two days of competition will face off in the championship game on Sunday, Nov. 23.
HOLIDAY HOOPS RETURNS
Texas A&M’s "Holiday Hoops" is back - Every Texas A&M men's and women's home basketball game between December 5th and January 8th, will have reduced General Admission prices as part of "Holiday Hoops Presented by: Texas A&M Physicians". Come see the Aggie Men for as little as $5 and Aggie Women for $4.
SPORTS PASS SPECIAL
Texas A&M students can swipe their All-Sports pass and get a fellow student into the game for free. During all December and January home games, Texas A&M All-Sports pass holders are encouraged to bring a fellow Aggie student to the game for free to increase the power of the 12th Man at Reed Arena.
2013-14 TEXAS A&M MEN’S BASKETBALL MEDIA GUIDE
Fans can get a deeper look at the 2013-14 Aggie basketball team with this season’s media guide. The guide features in-depth player and coach profiles, a 2012-13 season in review, a look at this year’s opponents, program records and an overview of the history of Aggie basketball.
Aggie Basketball Game #11:
Oklahoma (10-1) vs Texas A&M (8-2)
Dec. 21, 2013 · 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Toyota Center (18,043)
TV: ESPNU (For more info - AggieAthletics.com/TV)
Brett Dolan, Play-by-Play
Reid Gettys, Commentary
RADIO: Texas A&M Radio Network
Dave South, Play-by-Play
Al Pulliam, Commentary
Local: WTAW-AM 1620 (College Station/Bryan)
LIVE AUDIO/STATS: AggieAthletics.com
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