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Monday, February 15, 2010

A&M eager for top-ranked challenge

Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon directs his defense as the bench watches the final minutes of play Saturday, March 15, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon directs his defense as the bench watches the final minutes of play Saturday, March 15, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

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— Texas A&M; freshman Khris Middleton rooted for Kansas University’s basketball team from afar Saturday night.

The 6-foot-7, 215-pound Aggie starter realized it would take a KU home victory over Iowa State to keep the Jayhawks firmly positioned at No. 1 heading into today’s 8 p.m. KU-A&M; Big Monday clash in Reed Arena.

“Hopefully Kansas is No. 1. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to play another No. 1 team and hopefully knock them off this time,” Middleton said last week.

“You want to give your all for the fans for them being there.”

He scored a point and grabbed four rebounds in 15 foul-plagued minutes in the Aggies’ narrow 72-67 loss to then-top-ranked-Texas on Jan. 16 in Austin.

Tonight gives A&M; a second chance to claim the program’s first-ever victory over a top-ranked team.

“You get fired up every game. I think Big Monday ... Kansas players might not. It seems they are on every week,” A&M; coach/former KU guard Mark Turgeon said. “They are a heck of a road team. They take on challenges. They are probably more used to it. Hopefully the bright lights and not being familiar (with it) doesn’t hurt us.”

Topeka Hayden High graduate Turgeon, who, like most all former KU players, follows the Jayhawks closely, is mighty familiar with KU’s style of play.

“They will play man-to-man primarily. We’re going to play man against them,” said the 45-year-old Turgeon, who praised the Jayhawks’ “motion and high-low stuff that Bill (Self) runs.”

Turgeon is 0-3 versus KU.

The Jayhawks prevailed, 73-53, Jan. 19, 2009, in Allen Fieldhouse after downing the Aggies, 77-71, in the Big 12 tournament on March 15, 2008, in Kansas City, and also, 72-55, on March 8, 2008, in Reed Arena.

Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich scored 16 points apiece, while A&M; senior Bryan Davis scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in last year’s game in Allen — one in which KU led, 40-23, at the break.

“Kansas is a real good team with a lot of good players. I look forward to playing against them,” Davis said. “Big Monday is Big Monday and big Kansas coming down here ... I’m looking forward to playing that game.”

So is Turgeon.

“To play the No. 1 team on your home court when you have a lot of confidence is something you dream about. We know we’ll get Kansas’ best shot. It should be a heck of a game,” he said.

The Jayhawks realize the Aggies have a first-team all-league candidate in Donald Sloan, a 6-3 senior who averages 18.3 points and 4.0 rebounds a game. He has 51 assists, 64 turnovers.

“He’s the heart of their team,” KU’s Sherron Collins said. “I’ve seen him four years. I know how good he is.”

This game has implications in the league race. KU is 10-0; A&M; 7-3.

“It will be a great environment,” KU coach Bill Self said, “because theoretically if they win out and knock us off, they’ll put themselves in great position to maybe play for the league championship. We’ve got to be really good, just like we were going down to Austin (last week in win at Texas). I think the guys will be focused going to College Station.”

Times have changed

Turgeon admits his mind-set has changed since his days coaching at Wichita State.

“I used to sit in Wichita and be like, ‘Man, the Big 12 is no good. We should be in the NCAA Tournament, not these Big 12 teams.’ I was wrong,” Turgeon said.

“We were No. 2 in RPI (as conference) my first year, No. 3 last year, and now we are No. 1. Every game is so hard. We have to play well every night to give ourselves a chance to win. It’s a grind out there.”

Quick healer

Derrick Roland recently told reporters he hopes to return to the court this season. The 6-4 senior from Dallas broke the tibia and fibula in his lower right leg in a Dec. 23 loss at Washington.

“It’s just Derrick talking right now. I’ve not talked to doctors. I can’t even think about that with him,” Turgeon said.

“He’s a quick healer. It’ll be hard for me to put him back in. It will take a lot of doctors to approve it. Of course, his bone has to heal completely. He’s pain-free right now, so he probably thinks it’s farther along than it is. We’ll see.”

Robinson probable

KU freshman Thomas Robinson (concussion) practiced Sunday and is listed as probable for tonight's game, Self indicated.

Comments

3GJayhawk 9 years, 11 months ago

“I used to sit in Wichita and be like, ‘Man, the Big 12 is no good. We should be in the NCAA Tournament, not these Big 12 teams.’ I was wrong,” Turgeon said.

Really? Big 12 no good compared to Wichita State? Foolish

Martin Rosenblum 9 years, 11 months ago

Looks like their Big 12 action includes one game where they won by 11. In all other games that they won, it was only by fewer than 9 points. Also, when they lost, they only lost by single digits too. Roughly, they average somewhere in the mid 60s in total points scored.

I'm going out on a limb and projecting that I won't be scared tonight!

Any chance that the Longhorn redhead will have defected to A & M?

KU 84 T A&M 68

jaybate 9 years, 11 months ago

"Monday Awake Way too Early in Anticipation of a Very Good Basketball Game vs. TA&M:"

This could be one of the best defensive games of the season. And neither coach likes to take the first time out, so the temp could yo yo from half court to wild and wooly transition and back again after only a few minutes of high pressure defense by both sides.

Or it could settle into a grinder.

Turg knows the only way he can win is with about half the TOs of KU and with KU having a sub par night from trifectaville, and so his defense has to force KU into a lot of TOs and guard the heck out of the trey stripe.

Self knows that KU cannot have its usual amount of TOs and win, unless it uses pressure defense to really spike the Aggies usual number of TOs and seals off the paint and forces the Aggies into more trey shooting than it likes.

Frankly, this is the kind of game two old PGs who have become coaches love.

A lot of the game hinges on guard play, on protecting the ball and perimeter defense.

Self is going to have to resist the temptation of getting into a macho struggle with Turg over who has the toughest guards.

Self needs to keep playing through his increasingly strong suit--the KU bigs. Cole will be caught in a shoving match most of the time with the Aggie center, but Marcus could well have some match up advantage at the 4.

Sherron has to bring his A game.

Xavier could well have a lot of trouble against the Aggies because they have length and good defense at the 3.

The show down match-up, however, is going to be Tyshawn/Brady against Sloan; this is where the two old guards coaching are going to be re-living their youths vicariously and wanting to impose their wills. Self knows if Sloan can be locked down, and KU can defend the paint, a win is inevitable. He will pull out all the stops to shut Sloan down and force the ball outside to other players.

We can expect to see some new wrinkles on offense and defense this game to help keep the other side off balance.

No prediction on point spread tonight. Can't get a feel for how this one will go, other than that I expect KU to win.

Martin Rosenblum 9 years, 11 months ago

See the looks on the faces of the players and assistant coaches on the bench in the above photo? We'll see those expressions again tonight!

bradynsdad 9 years, 11 months ago

i really like mark turgeon. he is a nice guy. he will always be die hard ku. i dont think he meant anything bad by that comment, he did lead wichita state to the sweet sixteen before he left.

FinalFour1993 9 years, 11 months ago

Surely Turgeon was referring to years that WSU was a bubble team and they missed out while middle-of-the-road B12 teams got in.

minnhawk84 9 years, 11 months ago

How long ago was it that KU and WSU met in the tourney? I remember it as a really big game for the Hawks, so I'm thinking sweet sixteen at least.....anyone remember? In New Orleans? I remember it being very, very close but don't remember who came out on top, but I'm thinking KU...... Coffee hasn't quite kicked in this morning yet.

Bruce Brock 9 years, 11 months ago

I think his comment is simply an open admission about the chronic, and well-deserved, inferiority complex of good ole Hillside High. Just about every student there from Wichita wishes he or she were going someplace else, instead of living at home with the parents and commuting. You get a decent education there, but not much else outside the classroom.

The Shockers, behind the well-paid talents of Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston, beat KU 66-65 in the Sweet Sixteen in New Orleans in 1981. WSU was a 6 seed, KU a 7 seed in the Midwest Regional of the 48-team field. It was one of the few signature wins in the program's last 30 years. The Shockers were lucky to retain the talents of someone of Turgeon's caliber for seven years.

Eric Williams 9 years, 11 months ago

Turgeon, A&M and Roland should apply for a medical redshirt now and the NCAA should grant it immediately.

DO NOT let this kid come back this season and risk a life-altering injury.

I hope he heals to the point he can eventually play basketball again.

kellyrojo78 9 years, 11 months ago

I hate to say it but I think the Jayhawks lose in a squeaker tonight.....But that loss will respark a fire deep into March

Lance Hobson 9 years, 11 months ago

There is no way they are actually talking about this kid returning this season! Did anybody see the injury? It was more grotesque than Joe Theisman. That would be a miracle.

trueblue9 9 years, 11 months ago

Roland played in way too many games to be granted a medical redshirt; a player can only play in 20% to be eligible.

ku_foaf 9 years, 11 months ago

minnhawk84,

It was 1981, as noted by JHawk252, a WSU team that featured Anton Carr and Cliff Levingston.

The next year they had those guys, Greg Dreiling (before he transferred to KU), and I believe Xavier McDaniel. They were ranked #1 at the beginning of the season before a bunch of NCAA violations came out. I think they were banned from post season play. I remember someone said there was a sign that said something like "Forgive them Shockers, they know not what they do."

ku_foaf 9 years, 11 months ago

Roland can't come back this season. Bone doesn't regrow in a couple of months! He likely has about a year before he has not artificial structural support, based on other people with that kind of horrible injury. Yes, it was VERY reminiscent of Joe Theissman! A guy I know had a "cage" with pins on his leg for 9 months plus.

Kevin Huffman 9 years, 11 months ago

I see us likely losing one or two more reg. season games, but for some reason I don't think this is going to be one of those one or two. at OSU, vs. K-State and at Missouri (basically the last three games of the season) scare me most.

That doesn't mean that I think we win easily either.

I'll say:

KU 72 A & M 67

MDHawk 9 years, 11 months ago

There's no way this kid comes back...that injury was gruesome. The bone is likely well on its way toward healing, but if he steps onto that court even a couple weeks too early (often very difficult to tell), he'll probably break it again, perhaps worse. Not worth the risk.

Mike Kendall 9 years, 11 months ago

Like Jhawk252 pointed out, Hawks lost that game in 1981. I remember Ted Owen taking a lot of heat for losing that game in New Orleans. Self though, took a lot of heat after losing to Bucknell and Bradley, too! I remember the Hawks traveling to Levitt Arena---I want to say it was Danny Manning's Freshman year or Sophomore year---I was acturally at the game and the Hawks lost to the Shockers that night. Larry Brown was coaching. That was a disapointment---not too many wearing Jayhawks shirts that night.

Lance Hobson 9 years, 11 months ago

Maybe Roland gets an Archie Marshall moment where he suits up for the final home game, but that would be it. I hope he gets healed enough to have a career after college.

I think WSU did all they could to keep Turgeon. He looked at some other jobs during his stay there, including the KU job so it probably wasn't a big secret that he'd move up if he got the chance. The current coach Marshall is doing a great job - they're having a solid season. If they were just a little better on ther road they'd get an at-large bid for the tourney.

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