Saturday , Feb , 17 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Sixth-ranked Aggies begin Sooner State stretch today in Norman

Norman, OK (Sports Network) – The sixth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies head out on
the road for two straight games in the state of Oklahoma, starting with this
weekend’s clash with the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman.

The Aggies were in the driver’s seat in their quest for a Big 12 title to
start this week, but a two-point loss to Texas Tech (77-75) at home on
Tuesday, allowed the Kansas Jayhawks to take advantage and join the Aggies
atop the league standings at 9-2.

The Sooners are further down the conference ladder, but remain
competitive at 6-5. However, a four-game win streak was halted on Tuesday
with a 58-51 loss at Iowa State.

The Sooners have owned this series, winning 25 of the previous 27 all-time
meetings. The team has won 14 of the last 15 meetings and is a perfect
12-0 in series games played in Norman. However, it is Texas A&M looking
for the regular season sweep after recording a 70-61 victory in College
Station on January 27th.

The Aggies have flourished in 2006-07 thanks to stellar play at both ends of
the court. A&M is among the national leaders in terms of field goal
percentage, shooting .502 from the floor (sixth nationally), including .415
from three-point range (eighth nationally). The result is a hefty 76.0 ppg.
Defensively, the team has been equally impressive, holding foes to a mere 56.8
ppg, on less than 40 percent shooting (.364). Four of the team’s five starters
are averaging double figures, giving the Aggies plenty of scoring depth. Acie
Law is the best of the bunch, converting over half his shots, including just
over 45 percent from long range, leading to 16.8 ppg. Josh Carter is even
better from three-point range, hitting 51.5 percent from there (67-of-130).
Carter is netting 12.5 ppg. The frontcourt play is strong as well, with Joseph
Jones (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Antanas Kavaliauskas (12.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
providing balance. In a game that came down the buzzer, Law’s 23 points were
not enough to put the Aggies in the win column. Jones and Kavaliauskas added
18 points apiece and A&M shot .538 from the floor, but committed 16 turnovers
in the narrow loss to the Red Raiders.

The Sooners lack the offensive arsenal that A&M possesses, but play a similar
style of defense, one predicated on plenty of pressure up and down the floor.
Oklahoma is yielding just 57.8 ppg this year, with opponents converting just
39 percent of the time. Offensively, the team is led by center Longar Longar,
who paces the squad in both scoring (12.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.6 rpg), all
while delivering on just over 60 percent of his shots. Nate Carter and Michael
Neal provide scoring depth with 11.0 and 10.2 ppg, respectively. The Sooners
allowed just 58 points to the Cyclones this week, but couldn’t get going
offensively and fell by seven points in Ames. Longar was dominant in the
middle, recording a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman
Bobby Maze contributed off the bench with 10 points, but the team as a whole
shot just .385 from the floor, including just 2-of-15 from three-point range