TEXAS A&M 71, BAYLOR 57: Bears shoot ice cold from field, fall to Aggies at Ferrell Center

by dentonramsey

TEXAS A&M 71, BAYLOR 57: Bears shoot ice cold from field, fall to Aggies at Ferrell Center

By Denton Ramsey, NCAA Sportswriter/Big 12 Fans Baylor Correspondent


WACO, Texas – For some unknown reason, the Baylor Bears haven’t been able to find a way to defeat Texas A&M on their home hardwood over the past four meetings.

Baylor (20-9, 8-7 Big 12) fell to Texas A&M (22-8, 8-7 Big 12) 71-56 on Wednesday, March 5 at the Ferrell Center, the Bears’ fourth straight loss to the Aggies in Waco.

“As far as tonight’s game, I think Texas A&M won the game,” Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew said. “They hit big shots and played very well. Josh Carter hit big shots, Donald Sloan hit big shots, and the interior did a great job defensively. I think we wanted to win so bad for our seniors that you either play great or you come out and play tight.

“I think we came out and played tight. Obviously with their interior [defense] we needed to hit some outside shots. We had some good looks early, and we didn’t make those. Their outside defense was very good.”

The Bears began the game shooting ice cold from the field and beyond the arc, hitting only 24.1 percent of their shots in the first half (7-for-29) while going 0-for-9 from the three-point line through the first 20 minutes of play.

“Physical and half court basketball favors them [Texas A&M],” Drew said. “Again, I thought it was a bit different than the first time we played. Give [Texas A&M] Coach [Mark] Turgeon the credit for doing a great job controlling the tempo and getting the style of play that they wanted.”

Swarming defense was the key to the Aggies defeating the Bears at home, as Texas A&M pressured Baylor’s guards from start to finish – with BU ending the evening making just 21.1 percent of their shots from three-point range (4-for-19).

“I thought early we had some good looks, and as the game went on we started to press a little bit more and then we took some tougher looks,” Drew said. “Early on, I thought CJ [Curtis Jerrells] had a couple of good looks and I know Lace [LaceDarius Dunn] had a good look. It was a situation where we didn’t get off to a good start. After that, we tried to go inside more and they did a good job defensively.”

The Aggies also slowed down the tempo of the game – toning down the pace to work in Texas A&M’s favor over a Baylor offense that thrives when moving at a quicker speed.

“That is what coach [Scott Drew] preaches to us; he just tells us to push the tempo up and get it into our style of game, but I think they [Texas A&M] did a good job of slowing it down, getting inside and doing what they do,” Baylor junior guard Henry Dugat said. “We had a game like that not too long ago [with shots not falling in the first half]. We know that we just have to stick with what we do and what has got us here. Eventually they are going to fall, but tonight was just one of those nights in which they didn’t.”

In addition to shooting ice cold from the field, the Bears and Aggies played a very physical game on the Ferrell Center hardwood – with Texas A&M being known as one of the tougher teams in the conference.

“That is how they play,” Dugat said. “They have good big men down low. They like to bang a lot; that is the style they play, so we are used to it. They are one of the most physical teams in the Big 12.

“I think they just keyed in on us and locked down a bit more. They did a great job defensively on us; obviously, look at the stat sheet.”

On a night that saw the Bears shoot just 33.3 percent from the field (21-for 63), not a single green and gold player hit double-digits in scoring and the team was held to a season-low 57 points.

“It was a tough night tonight; we didn’t shoot like we normally do,” Baylor center Mamadou Diene said. “We play with these guards every day; we know that they can make those shots. We just didn’t hit shots tonight, and sometimes that just happens. Tonight was just one of those nights.

“It was pretty physical, that is the Big 12. Every game is physical, but this one [against Texas A&M] was the most physical game this year.”

Baylor was led offensively by Jerrells and Diene, netting nine points apiece. Also scoring for the Bears was Dugat with eight points, Tweety Carter with seven points and Aaron Bruce with seven points.

Texas A&M, meanwhile, had four players hit double-digits in scoring – with Carter and Sloan leading the Aggies with 17 points each.

After a low scoring first half saw Texas A&M take a 26-21 lead into the break, both teams played a much better second half – with the Aggies outscoring the Bears 45-36 through the final 20 minutes of play, due primarily to A&M hitting clutch free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.

Unfortunately, the game concluded with some unneeded showboating by the Aggies, as Texas A&M’s Sloan assisted himself via the backboard for an uncontested slam dunk with the seconds ticking off the clock and the road team up by 12.

“I did not like it [Sloan’s final dunk as time ran out],” Turgeon said. “The arena was already hostile. They were throwing bottles all over the place which was ridiculous. I wish he would have just let the clock go out. The game was over.”

The Bears and Aggies return to the hardwood on Saturday – with Baylor slated to face Texas Tech on the road and Texas A&M set to host Kansas – as both teams conclude regular season conference play prior to the Big 12 Tourney tipping off on March 13.


Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com