Shaka Smart hadn’t seen the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M first-hand in his tenure with the Longhorns, but he’s watched plenty of old games between the Longhorns and Aggies.
FORT WORTH — Shaka Smart hadn’t seen the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M first-hand in his tenure with the Longhorns, but he’s watched plenty of old games between the Longhorns and Aggies.
The Lone Star Showdown at the brand-new Dickies Arena on Sunday, Dec. 8, didn’t have the efficiency that those old games had, but it had the same grind-it-out feeling that Smart recalls from watching the film.
Texas beat Texas A&M, 60-50, in a renewal of a rivalry that hadn’t been played in more than four years. The Longhorns moved to 8-1 this season, the best mark to start a year in Smart’s four years in charge.
“Both teams showed good toughness and grit,” Smart said. “It’s a game that I think is good for the fans and the players, and I think it should continue. This is the time of year where everyone is trying to become what they’re going to become.”
Jase Febres led Texas with a season-high 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting.
“I’ve sensed a boost in confidence from Jase over the last few days,” Smart said. “Contrary to what people might think, these guys are human beings, and he’s working through growing as a person and taking on a mindset on everything.”
Andrew Jones was the only other Texas player to score in double figures, adding 12 points off the bench. Jericho Sims led the Longhorns with six rebounds. Sophomore Courtney Ramey finished with seven points and a team-high seven assists.
Texas set a new season-high with 19 assists. Defensively, the Longhorns held the Aggies to 17 points in the first half and forced 21 turnovers.
Matt Coleman had a quiet game offensively but had two steals and finished as the only Longhorn with a double-digit plus-minus in plus-11.
“It was a good defensive (showing) from our guys,” Smart said. “We’re at our best offensively when we can turn defense into offense. Matt leads the way with that. He does a phenomenal job moving his feet.”
Neither team shot the ball well early in the first half as they combined to make just three of the first 10 shots from the field. A&M’s defense showed up early as well when forward Josh Nebo came up with an early block against Kai Jones.
Andrew Jones came off the bench early in the first half and sparked a 7-0 run for the Longhorns.
Texas ended the first half on an 8-2 run to take a 27-17 lead into halftime.
The Longhorns played a little more consistent out of the locker room. Febres and Ramey made back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second half to push the lead back to double digits early in the second half.
A&M made a run midway through the quarter on the back of Nebo, who finished the game with 16 points and five rebounds, and got as close as eight with under a minute left to go.
“We just had to play to our standard on both ends of the court,” Andrew Jones said. “We had to execute on the offensive end and guard on the defensive end because they run a lot of ball screens and do a lot of passing and cutting. We just had to get stops.”
The Aggies fell to 3-5. Katy native and former Cinco Ranch star Jay Jay Chandler had four points, an assist and a rebound in 11 minutes off the bench.