Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Eternal Struggle

You know a rivalry is polarizing when it causes you to think illogically. I pride myself on trying to look past stereotypes. Ideally, I'd hope to overcome misconceptions and take every human being at face value. But when I think of Texas A&M Aggies, I immediately imagine them as redneck cavemen who are ready to invade Poland. This makes no sense. Some of my favorite people and closest friends in my lifetime went to A&M. But, when you say that, that word: Aggie...I don't know. I have bad thoughts. The better part of my nature says, "Hey, it's just a game." And then, there's the dominant portion that says, "They're all mongoloid hayseeds until they prove otherwise."

That's what makes college rivalries great. The emotions run deep and take over. Tonight's matchup between Texas and Texas A&M was no exception. This was one of those games that extend from wire to wire and leave you feeling spent. Twice, it looked like Texas was in a position to close out and seal the victory. Twice, the ball ended up in Acie Law IV's hand, and he made something happen. His performance was truly remarkable. There's no doubt in my mind he has a chance to be a remarkable player at the next level. The game almost slipped away from him multiple times, but he just willed the Aggies back into it. If Texas A&M can get their fouling under control, they're going to be terrifying in the NCAA Tournament.

But, Texas had answers. Kevin Durant was predictably clutch and incredible. So was D.J. Augustin, who'd be considered a much better prospect if he wasn't dribbling in Durant's shadow. This win may not put Texas over the top in the rankings, but it's a step in the right direction. More importantly, it's a huge psychological victory for a team that needed to prove its toughness to itself. The Aggies play a dirty and physical game, but Rick Barnes's team gritted their way through it. And besides, who wants to lose to cavemen twice a year?

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