Aggies-Mountaineers Set for Armed Forces Classic Clash

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RAMSTEIN-MIESENBACH, Germany – Aggie Basketball Game #1:
#25 Texas A&M vs. #11 West Virginia
Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 · 5:00 p.m. (CT)
Ramstein Air Base · Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany

TELEVISION: ESPN (For more info – 12thMan.com/TV)
Karl Ravech, Play-by-Play
Seth Greenberg & Jay Williams, Commentary

RADIO: WTAW 1620 AM (Bryan-College Station)
Dave South, Play-by-Play
Mike Caruso, Commentary

SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius & XM Ch. 80
LIVE AUDIO/STATS: 12thman.com/live
LIVE MOBILE LIVE STATS: tamustats.com

Texas A&M will open its 2017-18 campaign Friday in one of the most unique settings for college basketball as the No. 25 Aggies face 11th-ranked West Virginia in a converted hangar on Ramstein Air Base during the 2017 Armed Forces Classic. Tip-off for the nationally-ranked showdown is set for 5 p.m. (CT).

The game will be televised on ESPN as part of the network's America's Heroes initiative honoring the men and women who are serving and who have served in the United States military, both at home and abroad. Karl Ravech will call the play-by-play while Seth Greenberg & Jay Williams provide color commentary. Additionally, radio coverage will be provided on the Aggie Sports Network, which can be heard locally in the Bryan/College Station area on WTAW (1620 AM).

Entering their seventh season under head coach Billy Kennedy, the Aggies enter the new campaign with high aspirations and are ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25. Texas A&M was also picked to finish third in the SEC in a preseason poll of media that covers the league.

The match up with the Mountaineers will provide the Aggies an opportunity avenge an 81-77 loss to then No. 18 West Virginia in Morgantown last January during the Big 12-SEC Challenge.

The Armed Forces Classic – a series of Division I men's college basketball games that are televised from United States military bases around Veteran's Day as a morale event for service members – is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN. Previous locations for the event include Ramstein Air Base (Germany), Camp Humphreys (Korea), CGAS Borinquen (Puerto Rico), Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler (Japan) and the Stan Sheriff Center (Honolulu, Hawaii).

TRENDS & SUPERLATIVES
• The Aggies have won 16 straight season-opening games but will be playing their debut away from College Station for the first time since Nov. 18, 2000, when Texas A&M opened Melvin Watkins' third season with a 94-74 loss at George Washington.
• Aggie men's basketball is 48-23 in season openers since 1945.
• The Aggies will be without the services of Robert Williams and redshirt freshman guard J.J. Caldwell, who will each miss the West Virginia game while serving suspensions for violating Texas A&M policies.
• A&M head coach Billy Kennedy enters his seventh season in Aggieland with an overall mark 115-85 (.575) during his tenure in College Station. His 115 victories are the second most all-time among A&M men's basketball coaches, trailing only legendary Shelby Metcalf's 438 from 1963-90.

SERIES HISTORY VS. WEST VIRGINIA (WVU LEADS 2-0)
• A year ago, the two schools squared off at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown during the Big 12-SEC Challenge ... The Mountaineers, ranked No. 18 at the time, led by as many as 20 during the second half, but had to withstand a late Aggie surge to post a 81-77 win.
• During last season's meeting, Tyler Davis carded his sixth career double-double by finishing with 19 points and a career-high 18 rebounds … his 18 rebounds marked the most by an Aggie since David Harris grabbed 19 vs. Houston on Feb. 24, 1990 … additionally, the 18-rebound performance was the most by any player in the history of WVU Coliseum, which opened in 1970.
• Admon Gilder recorded his career-high 24 points in last year's game, playing all 40 minutes.
• Before last season, Texas A&M and West Virginia had faced off just once on the hardwood on Nov. 27, 2009, during play at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif. ... The Mountaineers, ranked No. 8 at the time, earned a 73-66 win.
• A&M's Billy Kennedy first meeting vs. West Virginia as a head coach came last season ... WVU's Bob Huggins, meanwhile, has faced A&M three times -- the 2009 meeting while leading the Mountaineers and on Jan. 6, 2007, when the Aggies defeated his Kansas State team 69-65 in College Station.

NEWCOMERS SHINE IN EXHIBITION WIN OVER TARLETON STATE
Texas A&M held its final dress rehearsal for the 2017-18 season last Friday, defeating Tarleton State 72-46. It served as an opportunity for a new crop of Aggies to make their impressions on the Aggie faithful inside Reed Arena.
• 47 of the Aggies' 72 total points (65%) were scored by players who were not on the Aggies' roster last season. The group was led by freshman TJ Starks, who scored a game-high 21 points in the win, converting 8-of-10 shots from the field and all four of his free throw attempts.
• Despite the impressive debut of the youngster, the two seniors on the Aggie roster made sure to leave their mark, joining Starks in double-digit scoring were Tonny Trocha-Morelos (11 points) and Duane Wilson (10 points). Wilson also chipped in a game-high five assists on the night.

RETURNING FIREPOWER
• A&M stands to return one of the SEC's most formidable rosters to the hardwood for the 2017-18 campaign as the Aggies bring back four starters and 10 total players, representing 82.3 percent of the team's total scoring output from last season. Highlighted by Tyler Davis and Robert Williams, who each garnered second-team all-league honors a year ago, A&M stands out as the only SEC program to return more than one All-SEC performer.
• Additionally, A&M is the only SEC school to return four players who averaged 10 or more points per game last season – Tyler Davis (14.1 ppg), Admon Gilder (13.7 ppg), DJ Hogg (12.0 ppg) and Robert Williams (11.9 ppg).
• The Maroon & White will be boosted on the hardwood by the addition of another nationally-ranked signing class to Aggieland. 247Sports regards Texas A&M's incoming class as the 14th best in the country while ESPN slots the four Aggie commits from the high school ranks among the top 12 players in the state of Texas.

AGGIES ONLY SEC SQUAD TO RETURN MULTIPLE ALL-CONFERENCE HONOREES
The 2017 All-SEC teams, as voted on by the league's coaches, were announced on March 7 and as the league moves forward to the 2017-18 campaign, just five players who garnered All-SEC accolades are back for this season. Of those five, two are Aggies as Texas A&M stands out as the conference's only school to return multiple All-SEC honorees.
The twin towers of Tyler Davis and Robert Williams each represented the Aggies on the All-SEC Second Team while Williams was named the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year.

AGGIES EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE OF ONE NATION'S TOUGHEST SCHEDULES
A&M's non-conference slate will be among the most daunting in the country as the Aggies take on West Virginia (at Ramstein Air Base in Germany as part of the Armed Forces Classic), USC, Arizona (in Phoenix) and Kansas, all away from College Station. Additionally, A&M will take part in the Legends Classic (Nov. 20-21) at Brooklyn's Barclays Center where the Aggies will play two games as part of a quality field that includes Oklahoma State, Penn State and Pitt.
After the challenging midterm of non-conference action, the Aggies will face the gauntlet of SEC play. As a league, the SEC has proven to been one the best conferences in recent years and is coming off an attention-grabbing campaign where it posted an 11-5 record in the NCAA Tournament and had three teams advance to the Elite Eight.
• 17 total games vs. postseason teams from last season (13 NCAA / 4 NIT).
• 11 teams that made the 2017 NCAA Tournament (A&M plays Arkansas & Kentucky twice).
• Of A&M’s 31 regular season games, only 14 are against teams that did not make the NCAA or NIT last season.
• Texas A&M will play a postseason team away from home (including neutral site games) 10 times.

KENTUCKY TOPS PRESEASON SEC MEDIA POLL; AGGIES THIRD
Kentucky was predicted to win the 2017 Southeastern Conference men's basketball championship in voting by a select panel of both SEC and national media members. Texas A&M was pegged third in the poll

The Wildcats are the overall preseason favorite for the 13th time since the 1998-99 season.

Voting for SEC Men's Basketball Player of the Year resulted in a three-way tie with Georgia senior forward Yante Maten, Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter, Jr. and Texas A&M sophomore forward Robert Williams finishing as the media favorites. Alabama's Collin Sexton, Florida's KeVaughn Allen, Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo, and Mississippi State's Quinndary Weatherspoon also received votes in the Player of the Year voting.

Points were compiled on a 14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Each media member also voted for a five-player All-SEC Team. Ties were not broken.

UP NEXT AFTER THE WEST VIRGINIA GAME
After returning to the United States, the Aggies will have a few days to recover from their trip across the Atlantic before hosting UCSB in their home opener at Reed Arena on Nov. 17. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with coverage on SEC Network+.