At End of an Era, UT Men Top Texas A&M

A frenzied crowd roared as the Longhorn and Aggie basketball teams, meeting for the 222nd and final scheduled time, walked onto the floor following a Longhorn timeout.

With just over a minute to play, the Texas A&M band pounded their drums, Reed Arena pulsated, and yell leaders ran rabid down the baselines, the students whooping and hollering in their wakes. This was it, the Aggies felt: victory over Texas at last.

With both men’s and women’s teams losing to the Longhorns on Jan. 11, the Aggies wanted this game badly, and for a minute it looked like they finally had it. Despite trailing the entirety of the second half, Texas A&M stormed back into the game in the final minutes, reclaiming the lead 67-66 with 1:03 to play.

Then—channeling the will and poise of Longhorns past—the young Texas team finally stepped up, as it has too often failed to do this season.

Running a well-designed play that head coach Rick Barnes admitted in the postgame interview they had never run before, leading scorer J’Covan Brown slipped through a wall of bodies and found himself wide open for an easy layup.

Brown, the Big 12’s leading scorer, finished with a game high of 20 points and proved again why he deserves every bit of his coach’s confidence.

With a slim 68-67 lead and just under 50 seconds to play, A&M had one more chance. A bucket would have blown the roof off Reed Arena. Instead, Texas freshman guard Myck Kabongo intercepted a pass with 20 seconds to go, and Brown sunk two free throws to put the Horns up 70-67.

Texas’ defense denied the Aggies another shot in their last possession, and an accidental Kabongo foul ended up benefiting the Horns. Putting the Aggies on the free throw line eliminated the threat of a three-point shot, and after grabbing the final rebound, Texas ran out the clock to escape victorious, 70-68.

After the game, Barnes and Longhorn players Brown and Sheldon McClellan, who finished with 15 points and carried the Longhorns for stretches of the game, downplayed the importance of winning the final game against the Aggies. They were all business, glad to get a road win and focused on Saturday’s matchup against K-State. The Aggies, on the other hand, carried a much more somber tone.

“Obviously, a very difficult loss. Feel very bad for our fans, alumni, players,” Texas A&M Head Coach Bill Kennedy opened before a single question had been asked.

In a season of finales between Texas and Texas A&M, with the Aggies leaving for the SEC next year, every game between the schools has been magnified. Wins and losses don’t just matter for the players, the coaches, or even the season—they’re for alumni, extended bragging rights, and glory or disappointment that will last years.

Their season slipping away, the game on the line, wanting also to avenge the thrilling Thanksgiving football classic in which the Longhorns claimed victory in the final seconds, the Aggies fought hard, but couldn’t come through in the end.

A&M can’t seem to catch a break against Texas this year. Watching Aggie fans and players, sagging shoulders and hanging heads, shuffle out after every defeat to UT, you almost have to feel ba … just kidding. Better luck next decade, Aggies! Hook ’em!

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that A&M’s men’s and women’s basketball teams lost to UT in Austin on Jan. 11. Thanks to an astute reader for pointing out that the women’s team played in College Station on that date.

J’Covan Brown fights past Aggie defense in the Jan. 11 game. Photo courtesy UT Athletics.


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