November 24, 2015

Texas A&M has shown off plenty of offensive firepower during an impressive start - and one of their best players hasn't even been available.

The 25th-ranked Aggies will finally have Jalen Jones at their disposal Wednesday night for their 223rd meeting with Texas in a Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinal in the Bahamas.

Texas A&M (4-0) hasn't been challenged yet, winning by an average of 33.7 points and shooting 55.9 percent, including 47.1 from 3-point range.

Five players are averaging 11.0 points or more, and 11 different players scored in a 74-47 home win over UNC Asheville on Saturday.

"That's the beauty of our team," coach Billy Kennedy said. "We've got a lot of different lineups and a lot of different guys we can play at different times."

That's even without Jones, a senior forward who was suspended for the first four games for not complying with NCAA regulations after participating in two closed scrimmages while at SMU before transferring. He averaged 13.7 points and 6.6 rebounds last season in his first year for the Aggies.

Kennedy wouldn't say if Jones would be immediately inserted into the starting lineup, though. He started all 31 games in which he played in 2014-15.

"We will see who gives us the best chance to win on Wednesday," Kennedy said. "We have a number of guys who can start so it really doesn't matter who starts for us, it's about winning the game. We didn't have him the last four games and we missed him at times, but we have some other guys. He's just going to make us stronger."

These rivals haven't met since Texas' 70-68 road win Feb. 6, 2012, before A&M departed for the SEC. The Aggies have dropped five straight in the series and 42 of the last 51 meetings. The Longhorns lead the all-time series 137-85.

Texas (1-1) claimed its first victory of the Shaka Smart era Saturday, winning 67-56 over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi after a 77-71 loss to Washington in Shanghai a week earlier.

"It was tough getting our body clock on the right schedule. The time change is tough," said Connor Lammert, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. "We've got another international trip. Thank goodness it's not another 14-hour difference."

Cameron Ridley led the Longhorns with 14 points and a career high-matching 14 rebounds. He's totaled nine blocked shots as the Longhorns have impressed defensively, holding their two opponents to a combined 29.9 percent shooting.

Texas is averaging 9.0 steals in Smart's high-pressure system compared to 6.3 last season under Rick Barnes.

Turnovers have been one of the few concerns thus far for Texas A&M, which averaged 18.0 through its first three contests but committed only nine against Asheville.

Aggies junior forward Tavario Miller is a Bahamas native who expects to have about 50 friends and family members in attendance. He's averaging 6.5 points.

"I'm really excited. The people back home are really looking forward to good basketball. They don't usually get college basketball," he said. "Hopefully it will be a good crowd out there supporting us."

The winner will meet either 10th-ranked Gonzaga or Washington on Thursday. The field also includes No. 18 Connecticut, which plays Michigan on Wednesday night.

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