Texas takes to glass to edge Aggies, remains undefeated in Big 12

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The most important number from Wednesday’s game was eight — not the margin of victory but the Longhorns’ advantage on the glass.

Texas A&M came into the game averaging 11.6 more rebounds than their opponents — second best in the country. They left with just their second deficit on the glass this season.

The Aggies would have fared even worse except for the five rebounds they collected in the final six minutes, after the game was already put away.

The Aggies came in with a talented rebounding trio; Khris Middleton, David Loubeau and Nathan Walkup each averaged at least 4.7 per game prior to last night. Only one of those three, Middleton, improved his average with Wednesday’s performance.

“We’re a good rebounding team,” said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. “We didn’t rebound.”

Texas, fourth in the nation in total rebounds per game, has now out-rebounded all three of its Big 12 opponents and is undefeated in that stretch. Jordan Hamilton led all Longhorns with eight against A&M.

Tristan Thompson pulled big-man double duty on the inside, pulling down six rebounds to go with 18 points.

“Controlling the glass, and especially ever since the outcome we had a couple weeks ago [against Connecticut], we want to make sure we always control the glass and try to win the rebounding battle,” Thompson said.

Thompson was referring to a loss on Jan. 8 at home versus the Huskies. The Longhorns were out-rebounded 52-42 and ended up falling in overtime after leading for much of regulation.

“They were more physical than we were tonight,” said A&M forward Nathan Walkup.

Texas would have gotten more boards if not for six blocked shots, four of which came at the hands of Thompson.

“I do think we’re a strong team,” said Texas head coach Rick Barnes.

Hamilton, a perimeter swingman known mostly for his shot, had the most rebounds on Wednesday. Guards J’Covan Brown and Cory Joseph combined for 10 more.

“Jordan is underrated in terms of how strong he is,” Barnes said. “But if you get down there with him and watch him every day, he’s strong. He’s strong around the basket.”

Most of the action was down low in the first half. Texas made 10 of its 13 field goals in the paint, including three second-chance dunks off offensive rebounds. The physicality continued until the final whistle, with the teams combining for 38 penalties.

A string of nine fouls in less than two minutes in the first half, including a technical on Turgeon, might have affected the Aggies’ willingness to get up and after loose balls.

“We fouled the whole game tonight,” the Aggies’ coach said. “The fouls had something to do with it but not all of it.”

Both teams are still near the top of the conference in rebounding, but Texas emerged from Wednesday’s game with the advantage and the early lead in the Big 12 South race.