8:00 PM ET, January 12, 2005
Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- When Billy Gillispie took over as head coach at Texas A&M in March, he found a team lacking size, experience and depth.
He soon found out, however, that the Aggies did have some talent despite their woeful record from the previous season.
Acie Law, one of those talented leftovers, had 24 points and six assists, freshman Joseph Jones added 13 points and 10 rebounds and A&M ended an 18-game Big 12 losing streak with a 74-63 upset of Texas (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today; No. 10 AP) on Wednesday night.
"It's about having the right guys," Gillispie said, smiling. "It's no magic formula. The story is not about me ... it's about those guys in the white jerseys. The sky's the limit on what you can achieve."
Gillispie has the Aggies achieving way beyond what many thought was possible at a school that has always treated basketball as a distraction after football season. A&M has finished last in the Big 12 three of the past four seasons.
The Aggies (12-1, 1-1 Big 12) are off to their best start since 1959-60, and Gillispie has made the best debut in school history.
Before a school-record crowd of 12,811, A&M ended the Longhorns' 10-game winning streak in College Station and improve its record at Reed Arena to 12-0 this season.
The Aggies also knocked off their first Top 10 foe, and fourth overall, since beating Texas in 1982.
"It feels real good to get the first Big 12 victory," said Law, a sophomore point guard who suffered through last season's 7-21 record. "A Top Ten team comes in ... that's a perfect opportunity to show everyone what we can do."
Despite getting off to such an impressive start, A&M had generated little attention mostly because of a nonconference schedule that included games against Prairie View A&M, Texas-Permian Basin and Trinity, a Division III school.
Coming off a tough 65-60 loss at No. 2 Kansas last week, A&M surprisingly seized control of this game early and never let the Longhorns back into it.
The Aggies' lead reached 21 points early in the second half, but Texas (12-3, 1-1) fought back behind a full court press and scoring spurts by Tucker and Aldridge.
It wasn't enough.
Law effortlessly sliced his way through defenders and repeatedly found open shooters, completely outclassing Texas freshman Daniel Gibson.
Gibson, who suffered a cut over his right eye and had it bandaged up at halftime, was 1-of-11 from the field and had three points and two assists.
The Longhorns struggled offensively despite the return of center Jason Klotz, who served a one-game suspension for throwing a punch in last week's win over Memphis, and guard Sydmill Harris, who missed the previous three games with a groin injury.
A&M's aggressive pressure defense -- ranked No. 1 nationally in field goal percentage -- forced the Longhorns into dozens of off-balance jumpers and 3s from way behind the arc.
Texas made one of its first 12 shots, a putback slam by Aldridge, and went 7-of-33 from the field, including 2-of-9 on 3s, in the first half.
"They put some pressure on us and were digging back in there," Texas coach Rick Barnes said, "and when that happens you have to make some shots. We didn't do a particularly great job of that."
Meanwhile, Law hardly missed.
Law's final 3-pointer of the night, a rainbow over Tucker as the shot clock expired, gave A&M a 63-50 lead with 3:39 to go. That shot sent the crowd into a frenzy and all but ended any comeback attempt.
"Law missed like three shots all game," said Tucker, making a surprisingly accurate guess at Law's 10-for-13 shooting. "That's just how it goes sometimes."
Klotz added, "Acie Law is probably one of the best point guards we've played this year the way he was playing."
In the game's final seconds, Law dribbled out the clock near midcourt and then tossed the ball high into the air as A&M players and students spilled onto the court. Thousands of fans locked arms and sang the "Aggie War Hymn," A&M's traditional sendoff after games.
When the final verse was sung, Law and Gillispie waded through a mob of hugs and handshakes before they found each other and embraced to the applause of the maroon-clad fans.
"I think we've been ahead of schedule a little bit," Gillispie said. "We know where we are in the landscape of college basketball. We have 14 more Big 12 games and there's not one that you can circle that you know you're going to win."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||20-62 (.323)||20-42 (.476)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-21 (.333)||8-15 (.533)|
|FT Made-Attempted||16-25 (.640)||26-36 (.722)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||29 (0/0)||26 (0/0)|