COLLEGE STATION -- Things are starting to shift into gear as the Texas A&M women’s basketball team (14-6, 2-4) continues to maneuver through the Big 12 Conference one step at a time. The Aggies close out the month of January with Missouri (8-11, 1-5) in their third contest in seven days on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. A&M returns home to the friendly confines of Reed Arena after a pair of road trips through the Big 12 North. The defending Big 12 champions got back to their winning ways by claiming their second league win of the season (58-51) at Kansas on Jan. 26. In fact, the Aggies will face back-to-back teams which rely on their youth as Mizzou has three upperclassmen on its 11-player roster and one among its starting five. The A&M defense has held opponents to a conference-best 25.1 percentage from behind the three-point arc, while Missouri is second in the league shooting 35.7 percent of its threes. Tuesday night’s game will feature two of the top five scorers in the Big 12 in Texas A&M’s Takia Starks (17.3 ppg) and Missouri’s Alyssa Hollins (16.2 ppg).
Texas A&M hosts Team Night at Reed Arena with Bryan-College Station parks and recreation league teams receiving free admission by wearing their team jersey to the Missouri game. Students who attend women’s Big 12 Conference games throughout the season will have a chance to win cool prizes like iTunes, iPods and even a $10,000 scholarship courtesy of Mac Resource Computers. Look for the Mac Resources T-Shirt throw during the game, catch the Gary Blair autographed shirt and bring it down to the scorers table for a chance to shoot for the scholarship. Ashley Furniture Homestore is also offering fans the opportunity to win furniture shopping sprees in increments of $250, $500 and $1,500. Entry forms will be available on the Reed Arena concourse at the first four women’s conference home games and must be returned to the Ashley Furniture Homestore to be eligible. The winners will be drawn at halftime of the women’s basketball game against rival Texas on Feb. 9.
EYEING THE TIGERS
Picked to finish last in the preseason Big 12 coaches poll, Missouri has lost its last four-straight contests and is 0-4 on the road this season. Texas A&M will be the Tigers’ second dance partner in its two-step through the Big 12 South with a 67-37 loss at Texas on Jan. 26 in Austin. Last season, Mizzou posted a 17-14 overall record under 10th-year head coach Cindy Stein. Three players are averaging double figures including leading scorer Alyssa Hollins who currently ranks 24th nationally in three-point field goals per game (2.6) and sophomore Jessra Johnson (14.4 ppg). The Tigers have faced two nationally-ranked opponents in two of its last four outings with setbacks against No. 6 Baylor (72-57) on Jan. 23 and No. 18 Oklahoma State (76-41) on Jan. 16. MU opponents are shooting 42.3 percent from the floor and averaging 66.8 points per game.
The Aggies will play their 1,000th game in school history against Missouri on Tuesday night. A&M played its first official game with a 59-56 win over Prairie View A&M (exact date unknown) to open up the 1974-75 season. The Aggies own a 513-486 (.514) record in 34 seasons of basketball in Aggieland and currently have played 999 games to date. They are one of seven Big 12 schools to reach the 1,000th-game milestone this season next to Nebraska (1,009), Colorado (997), Oklahoma State (992), Missouri (991), Iowa State (986) and Oklahoma (985). A&M picked up its 500th program victory at SMU to open the 2007-08 campaign on Nov. 9.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
No. Name 2007-08 Stats
10 A’Quonesia Franklin, G, 5-3, Sr. 8.5 ppg, 4.6 apg
3 Takia Starks, G, 5-8, Jr. 17.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
55 Danielle Gant, G/F, 5-11, Jr. 14.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg
24 Patrice Reado, F, 6-0, Sr. 7.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg
12 La Toya Micheaux, C, 6-3, Jr. 3.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg
No. Name 2007-08 Stats
23 RaeShara Brown, G, 5-8, Fr. 0.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg
12 Alyssa Hollins, G, 5-11, Jr. 16.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg
3 Amanda Hanneman, F, 5-11, So. 9.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
4 Jessra Johnson, F, 6-1, So. 14.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg
44 Shakara Jones, F, 6-2, Fr. 11.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg
2007-08 Category TAMU MU
Overall Record 14-6 8-11
Conference Record 2-4 1-5
Points Per Game 65.7 61.9
Scoring Margin +8.9 -4.9
Rebounds Per Game 38.3 34.4
Rebounding Margin +1.9 -5.0
Field Goal Percentage 40.4 39.3
Field Goal% Defense 38.8 42.3
Three-Point FG% 31.9 35.7
Free Throw Percentage 67.8 63.0
Turnovers Per Game 16.7 16.9
Assists Per Game 13.1 13.6
Blocks Per Game 4.8 4.0
Steals Per Game 10.8 9.0
Missouri leads 7-5 in the all-time series between the two schools. All 12 meetings have come since the formation of the Big 12 in 1996-97. However, A&M carries a two-game winning streak against the Tigers, its longest in the series. The 2006 victory (72-52) by the Aggies snapped a three-game winning streak to Mizzou which is the longest winning streak by either team in the series. Four of A&M’s five all-time victories in the series have occurred at home in College Station. The Tigers still hold a 6-5 advantage in regular season games played between the two schools as both teams met in the postseason at the 2001 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City, Mo.
Three players scored in double figures with a 21-point outburst by Takia Starks as No. 16 Texas A&M escaped Missouri with a 69-63 win on Feb. 7, 2007 at Mizzou Arena. The Aggies extended their program-best Big 12 Conference win streak to five-straight games and picked up their first win in six all-time meetings with Mizzou in Columbia. For the game, A&M shot 51.2 percent from the floor which marked a season-high in conference play. Starks scored 18 of her 21 points in the first half of play including a much-needed three-pointer to push A&M’s lead to 60-56 with 2:40 remaining in regulation. Starks found her shooting touch after scoring in single digits in her previous two outings. She scored seven of the team’s first nine points of the ballgame including a three from NBA range with 9:52 left to go in the first period. The Aggies took a comfortable 21-point lead into the locker room at halftime, but that was quickly trimmed by a 21-6 run in the second half by the Tigers. Tiffany Brooks led Missouri with a game-high 22 points. A three-pointer by MU’s Carlynn Savant tied the game up at 54-54 with 6:44 left in the second half. A&M later stretched its lead back out to six points with 18 seconds left in regulation to secure the road victory. A’Quonesia Franklin scored 16 points for the Aggies, while Danielle Gant had 18. With the nation’s third-best defense, A&M held Mizzou to a season-low 21 first-half points which marked its lowest scoring production all season.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Head coach Gary Blair is an undefeated 6-3 all-time versus Missouri in his 23 years as a Division I head coach, while the Aggies are 2-2 against the Tigers in the Blair Era.
• Texas A&M associate head coach Kelly Bond (’98) and Missouri head coach Cindy Stein (’84) are both graduates of Illinois and played point guard for the Illini. Bond led Illinois to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in 1997 and 1998, while Stein was a member of the 1982 NCAA Tournament squad. Stein still holds two of the top four single-season assist totals in Illini women’s basketball history.
• The Aggies will have played five out of their six Big 12 North foes in the month of January with a two-game road swing at Nebraska on Jan. 23 in Lincoln, Neb., and Kansas on Jan. 26 in Lawrence, Kan. A&M will close out the month with a home date scheduled versus Missouri on Jan. 29. Last season, A&M went 4-2 against the Big 12 North and 9-1 in the Big 12 South.
Junior Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) is three steals away from surpassing former player Brandy Jones (1997-01) for a spot in the top 10 all-time in the category in the A&M record books (158). Gant tied a career-high with six steals versus the Jayhawks on Jan. 26 and currently ranks second in the Big 12 averaging 3.0 per game. Teammates Morenike Atunrase (182) and A’Quonesia Franklin (181) rank seventh and eighth respectively on the all-time charts. As a team, A&M has stolen the ball 215 times this season which is third-most among league schools.
CLEANING THE GLASS
For the second consecutive game, the Aggies won the battle of the boards at Kansas, 38-32, behind 21 combined offensive rebounds from Danielle Gant (9), La Toya Micheaux (4) and Patrice Reado (3). The trio account for 43 percent of the team’s board production. Gant is averaging a team-leading 7.4 rebounds per game followed by Micheaux (5.1 rpg) and Reado (4.7 rpg). Micheaux is four boards away from becoming the 18th player in school history to gain entrance into A&M’s 500-Rebound Club with 496 to date. Gant already surpassed the 500 career rebound mark earlier this season (564), while Reado also looks to gain entrance into the elite club with 473 to date.
THE DISH ON AQUA
Senior point guard A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) is 18 points shy of 1,000 career points (982) and nine assists from recording her fourth consecutive 100+ assist season (92). Only two other players in school history, All-American Lisa Branch (1992-96) and Toccara Williams (2000-04), have dished out 100-or-more assists in four-straight seasons. Franklin would become only the third player in school history to record 1,000 career points and 500 career assists (546) next to Branch and Williams. She also ranks third all-time in three-pointers made (136) and three-pointers attempted (416).
Three players scored in double figures as No. 20 Texas A&M held off Kansas to claim its second Big 12 Conference win of the season, 58-51, on Jan. 26 at historic Allen Fieldhouse. Danielle Gant recorded her ninth career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while junior Takia Starks had a team-high 17 points and six rebounds in the winning cause. It was A&M’s first victory in 10 days after falling to No. 18 Oklahoma State and Nebraska in league play. The Aggies combated their shooting woes from the floor (32.8 percent) by turning up their defensive pressure in the second half after trailing KU, 30-29, at halftime. Both teams traded leads seven times including three in the final 12 minutes of regulation. Key baskets by Patrice Reado and Morenike Atunrase stretched A&M’s lead to four with 10:54 remaining on the clock. Thirty seconds later, a three-pointer by Starks pushed it out to 48-41 and the Aggies never looked back. Atunrase went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe and scored 12 of A&M’s 29 second-half points as the Aggies raised their lead to as many as 11 with 4:57 left to go. For the game, A&M turned in a season-low nine turnovers which marked the fewest since eight miscues at rival Texas on Feb. 8, 2006. The Aggie defense also forced their first Big 12 opponent to 20-or-more turnovers as Kansas had 21 errors on the court. The Jayhawks were paced by an 11-point effort from leading scorer Danielle McCray and 10 points each from Sade Morris and LaChelda Jacobs.
AGGIES ON THE RADIO
All Texas A&M women’s basketball games can be heard via a radio broadcast on the Texas A&M Sports Network. Play-by-play announcer Tom Turbiville will call the action live from Reed Arena alongside Katy Pounds on KZNE 1150 AM. A live audio feed will also be available on www.AggieAthletics.com.
AROUND THE BIG 12
Baylor and Kansas State remain the early frontrunners of the Big 12 Conference race with undefeated 6-0 records in league play followed by OSU and Nebraska tied for third with 4-2 marks. OU and Texas round out the top half of the league, while Texas A&M is in a three-way tie for seventh with Texas Tech and Colorado at 2-4. Missouri is the only Big 12 school with a below .500 overall record at 8-11.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE STANDINGS
1T. Baylor (18-1, 6-0)
1T. Kansas State (14-5, 6-0)
3T. Oklahoma State (16-3, 4-2)
3T. Nebraska (15-5, 4-2)
5. Oklahoma (13-4, 3-2)
6. Texas (15-5, 3-3)
7T. Texas A&M (14-6, 2-4)
7T. Texas Tech (14-6, 2-4)
7T. Colorado (13-6, 2-4)
10. Iowa State (12-6, 1-4)
11T. Kansas (12-7, 1-5)
11T. Missouri (8-11, 1-5)
LOOKING AT THE RPI
Texas A&M is currently rated No. 15 in the latest RPI index according to CollegeRPI.com as of Jan. 27. The Aggies hold the nation’s 10th toughest schedule with 15 of their opponents advancing to postseason play a year ago. Upcoming opponents Missouri and Texas Tech are rated No. 106 and No. 59 respectively. With the strength of the league from top-to-bottom, ESPN.com bracketologist Charlie Creme predicts that the Big 12 could send eight teams to the Big Dance in March with A&M receiving a No. 8 seed in the Greensboro Regional.
AGGIES RECEIVING VOTES IN AP POLL
A&M dropped out of the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll released on Monday and are 26th with 76 votes. The Aggies previously appeared a program-best 37-straight weeks in the AP Poll since being ranked No. 24 in the nation on Feb. 6, 2006. Five Big 12 schools are ranked among the top 25 including No. 6 Baylor, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 18 Kansas State, No. 21 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Texas.
ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
1. Connecticut (19-0)
2. Tennessee (17-1)
3. North Carolina (18-2)
4. Rutgers (17-2)
5. Maryland (22-2)
6. Baylor (18-1)
7. Stanford (17-3)
8. LSU (16-3)
9. Duke (15-4)
10. California (17-3)
11. Oklahoma (13-4)
12. West Virginia (16-3)
13. Old Dominion (16-3)
14. Pittsburgh (16-3)
15. Wyoming (18-1)
16. George Washington (16-4)
17. Georgia (16-4)
18. Kansas State (14-5)
19. Ohio State (15-4)
20. Notre Dame (15-5)
21. Oklahoma State (16-3)
22. Syracuse (16-3)
23. DePaul (15-4)
24. Illinois State (17-1)
25. Texas (15-5)
Others Receiving Votes: Texas A&M 76, Utah 47, Nebraska 34, UTEP 33, Georgia Tech 24, Auburn 18, Virginia 16, Minnesota 14, Arizona State 13, Marist 11, Vanderbilt 8, Michigan State 7, Liberty 2 and Louisville 1.