State Bragging Rights On The Line For No. 20 Texas A&M In Rivalry Tilt

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COLLEGE STATION -- State bragging rights will be on the line as the 20th-ranked Texas A&M women’s basketball team (16-6, 4-4) hosts Texas (15-7, 3-5) in the first installment of the State Farm Lone Star Showdown between the two storied rivals at Reed Arena.

Tipoff between the Aggies and Longhorns is scheduled for 11 a.m. as the game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net. The winner will earn a half point toward the Lone Star Showdown standings. A&M seeks its fourth-straight win in Big 12 Conference play after evening its league record to 4-4 with a 17-point victory over Texas Tech (63-46) on Feb. 2. The Aggies enjoyed a bye week to fine tune and prepare for the eight games remaining in regular season play.

The Longhorns are also fresh off a six-day layoff between games and are looking to erase a winless streak in College Station over the last two years. A&M has won 27 of its last 29 home games at the friendly confines of Reed Arena. The time is now for the defending Big 12 champions to make a big push and capitalize on the added advantage of playing five of its last eight contests of the season at home.

However, the road to success will be a difficult task with Big 12 South foes looming ahead. A&M will face UT, Oklahoma and Texas Tech twice along with Baylor and Oklahoma State in the final home stretch of the conference race.

A&M will host the “Ultimate Aggie Sports Camp” in conjunction with National Girls and Women In Sports Day on Saturday morning prior to tipoff with the Longhorns. The camp will be held from 8:30-10:00 a.m. on the concourse of Reed Arena. Many of A&M’s student-athletes and coaches will be on hand to interact with fans and to participate in drills. The camp is free and open to all boys and girls in the Bryan-College Station area. In addition, each participating child will receive a free ticket to the game. Individual game tickets range from $16-10 and can be purchased by calling the 12th Man Foundation Ticket Office at 1-888-99-AGGIE.

Texas is looking to get back in the win column after suffering back-to-back losses against Big 12 South opponents in No. 6 Baylor (61-60) on Jan. 30 and No. 10 Oklahoma (74-58) on Feb. 3. The Longhorns have yet to win on the road in league play (0-3). Three of their conference games have been decided by three points or less including a 77-74 overtime loss to Kansas State on Jan. 13. Two players are averaging double figures including leading scorer Brittainey Raven (15.5 ppg) and center Ashley Lindsey (11.7 ppg). First-year head coach Gail Goestenkors replaced legendary Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Jody Conradt on April 3, 2007, in hopes of returning UT to its former glory. The 12-time National Coach of the Year guided a young Texas squad through a tricky non-conference slate with the likes of defending national champion Tennessee, Arizona State and DePaul which resulted in a 12-2 record. UT currently ranks 20th nationally in blocked shots per game (5.0) behind a 2.8 average by Lindsey who ranks second to Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris in the category.

ON THE TUBE

Texas A&M will appear on the television tube a school-record eight times during the 2007-08 season including Saturday’s State Farm Lone Star Showdown which will mark the second of five broadcasts on FSN this year. Brian Anderson (play-by-play) and Debbie Antonelli (color analyst) will call the action live from Reed Arena on FSN Arizona, FSN Bay Area, FSN Detroit, FSN Florida, FSN Midwest, FSN Northwest, FSN Rocky Mountain, FSN South, FSN Southwest, Comcast Chicago and Comcast New England. Check your local listings. Delayed broadcasts will be aired on FSN North (3 a.m.), FSN Pittsburgh (6 p.m.), FSN West (3 p.m.) and FSN Wisconsin (2 a.m.).

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS

TEXAS A&M

No. Name 2007-08 Stats

10 A’Quonesia Franklin, G, 5-3, Sr. 7.6 ppg, 4.7 apg

3 Takia Starks, G, 5-8, Jr. 17.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg

55 Danielle Gant, G/F, 5-11, Jr. 14.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg

24 Patrice Reado, F, 6-0, Sr. 8.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg

12 La Toya Micheaux, C, 6-3, Jr. 3.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg

TEXAS

No. Name 2007-08 Stats

3 Carla Cortijo, G, 5-7, So. 9.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg

10 Brittainey Raven, G, 6-0, So. 15.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg

20 Erneisha Bailey, G, 5-9, Sr. 7.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg

00 Earnesia Williams, F, 6-1, So. 8.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg

35 Ashley Lindsey, C, 6-4, Jr. 11.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

2007-08 Category TAMU UT

Overall Record 16-6 15-7

Conference Record 4-4 3-5

Points Per Game 65.4 73.4

Scoring Margin +9.7 +13.8

Rebounds Per Game 38.5 43.2

Rebounding Margin +2.7 +5.8

Field Goal Percentage 40.5 42.5

Field Goal% Defense 38.9 36.4

Three-Point FG% 30.7 32.0

Free Throw Percentage 67.4 72.7

Turnovers Per Game 16.4 17.3

Assists Per Game 12.9 14.8

Blocks Per Game 4.5 5.0

Steals Per Game 10.6 10.8

INSIDE THE SERIES

Texas may command a 58-13 lead in the all-time series between the two in-state rivals, but A&M has won the last three out of four contests by an average margin of 13 points. The Aggies are 5-17 all-time versus the Longhorns in Big 12 regular season play. They have met each other twice in the postseason (1-1) since the inception of the league in 1996-97. Seven of A&M’s 13 victories in the series have been won at home. Saturday’s game will mark the first time a non Jody Conradt-coached UT squad will face A&M since the 1975-76 season. Only four A&M games in 71 all-time meetings with the Longhorns have not been coached on the opposite sidelines by Conradt.

SERIES FLASHBACK

A’Quonesia Franklin made four free throws in the final minute and scored a career-high 27 points to lead No. 14 Texas A&M to a 67-60 win over Texas to earn a share of the Big 12 Conference title on Feb. 28, 2007. It marked the first time in school history that the Aggies won a conference title. Brittainey Raven scored a career-high 19 points and Tiffany Jackson added 19 for Texas. A&M led 61-58 before Texas was forced to foul Franklin, who made both free throws with 33.5 seconds left. Jackson’s three-point attempt at the other end bounced off the rim and Texas fouled Franklin again with 19 seconds remaining. Franklin responded by hitting two more free throws to put the game out of reach. The Aggies led by seven before four quick points by Texas, capped by a fastbreak layup by Erneisha Bailey, pulled the Longhorns to 61-58 with 1:48 remaining. UT never led in the second half, but got within one point once and hung around until Texas A&M put the game away in the final seconds. The win gave the Aggies their 18th straight at home and an undefeated 16-0 mark at Reed Arena, their first undefeated home record in school history. Takia Starks added 18 points, while La Toya Micheaux recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for A&M. The Aggies led by as many as eight points in the first half and were ahead 34-29 at halftime.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Head coach Gary Blair is 3-7 all-time versus Texas in his 23 years as a Division I head coach. All three wins have occurred during his five-year A&M career. He and Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors, formerly at Duke, were one of four finalists for the prestigious Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award last season along with Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Tennessee’s Pat Summitt.

• The Lone Star State’s finest will be on hand as the Texas A&M and Texas rosters are loaded with in-state talent. The Aggies boast 10 players from the state of Texas, while the Longhorns have eight. Additionally, A&M and UT both have a former Gatorade Player of the Year from the state of Missouri on its roster including Texas A&M’s Tyra White out of Kansas City’s Hickman Mills High School in 2007 and Texas’ Erneisha Bailey out of Kansas City’s Pembroke Hill High School in 2004.

• Talk about a household divided. This weekend, freshman back-up point guard Sydney Colson (Houston, Texas) will reunite with her older brother, Simmie IV, and sister, Simone, who both attend rival UT in Austin. Colson was rated the 29th overall prospect in the Class of 2007 out of Westside High School. She is averaging 11.5 minutes per game and is one of three A&M players to play in all 22 games of the season.

• Three players on last year’s inaugural Big 12 All-Defensive Team will take to the court on Saturday. Texas A&M’s Danielle Gant and La Toya Micheaux combine for 33 percent of the team’s rebounding production, while Texas’ Erneisha Bailey is third on the team in steals (38). Gant currently ranks third in the league in steals (2.5), eighth in rebounding (7.5), sixth in field-goal percentage (52.3) and second in offensive rebounds (4.1) through all games played.

THE G.B. vs. G.G. SERIES BEGINS …

The Gary Blair vs. Gail Goestenkors series begins and should offer plenty of excitement on the sidelines of one of the nation’s most heated college rivalries. Both have compiled 900 career wins in 39 years of coaching expertise combined. Blair and Goestenkors have met outside of the Big 12 stage on three occasions with G.B.’s Lady Razorbacks going 1-2 against Coach G’s Dukies. His 1998 Arkansas squad upset the eighth-ranked Blue Devils (77-72) in the NCAA West Regional for a spot in the 1998 Final Four in Kansas City, Mo. Three years later, Blair’s 2001 squad lost to the fifth-ranked Blue Devils in the second round (75-54) of the NCAA Tournament held in Durham, N.C. Both coaches’ last meeting came in the St. John Division championship game of the 2002 Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Top-ranked Duke prevailed 74-72 as the game was decided in the last seconds of overtime with former Duke All-American Alana Beard sinking two key free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Ironically, Beard attended the same high school as senior combination guard/forward Morenike Atunrase who is also a proud alum of Southwood High School in Shreveport, La. For Goestenkors, Saturday’s showdown will mark the second time she will face Texas A&M next to then No. 16-ranked Duke’s 83-73 setback to the Candi Harvey-coached Aggies on Nov. 17, 1995 in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in Amarillo, Texas.

FEBRUARY FRENZY

The second month of the year has proven successful for Texas A&M over the last two seasons under Blair. The Aggies have compiled a 14-4 record (.778) in the month of February including a 6-3 mark in 2005-06, a 7-1 mark in 2006-07 and a current 1-0 mark in 2007-08. Last year, Iowa State was the only team to get past the Aggies on Valentine’s Day in Ames, Iowa.

REBOUND WARRIORS

A&M has made a drastic improvement in the rebounding department with consecutive 40-rebound games against Missouri and Texas Tech. In all, the Aggies have turned in nine games with 40-or-more boards including a season-high 49 versus New Orleans on Dec. 9. Junior center La Toya Micheaux (Missouri City, Texas) notched back-to-back double-digit boards in A&M’s current three-game win streak including a career-high 14 against the Lady Raiders. She also grabbed 10 versus the Tigers. Micheaux along with teammates Danielle Gant, Patrice Reado and Takia Starks account for 55 percent of the team’s board production this season. Gant is averaging a team-leading 7.5 rebounds per game followed by Micheaux (5.8 rpg), Reado (4.6 rpg) and Starks (4.5 rpg). Micheaux recently became the 18th player in school history to gain entrance into A&M’s 500-Rebound Club with 520 to date. Gant already surpassed the 500 career rebound mark earlier this season (581) and ranks ninth all-time in the A&M record books. She is two rebounds away from moving into seventh. Reado also looks to gain entrance into the elite club with 479 to date.

COACHING GOLD MINE IN THE BIG 12

The attraction of universities which support the growth of women’s basketball, packed arenas and tough competition year-in and year-out have lured some of the best coaches in the nation to the Big 12. Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is one of three current Big 12 coaches to have left a successful program in a top-rated women’s basketball conference over the last five years. Blair previously led Arkansas to a 198-120 record over 10 campaigns in the SEC which included five NCAA Tournament appearances and a Final Four berth in 1998. Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors previously led ACC powerhouse Duke to 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances including four Final Four appearances and two trips to the national championship game. Texas Tech head coach Kristy Curry previously coached Purdue for seven seasons in the Big Ten and became the first coach in NCAA history to inherit a national championship-winning team. In fact, Goestenkors and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are among three coaches in the women’s game who have a guaranteed annual salary of $1 million.

THREE’S COMPANY

Former players Lisa Langston, Michelle Tatum and Jenni Edgar are the only A&M trio in school history to have reached the 1,000 career-point plateau during the same season (1984-85). No Aggie squad has ever produced the elusive four which only 11 known teams have accomplished in NCAA women’s basketball history. Senior point guard A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) looks to join fellow teammates Morenike Atunrase (1,145) and Takia Starks (1,205) as the second trio to do so as she is 12 points shy of 1,000 career points (988). Franklin would become only the third player in school history to record 1,000 career points and 500 career assists (557) next to All-American Lisa Branch (1992-96) and Toccara Williams (2000-04). She also ranks third all-time in three-pointers made (137) and three-pointers attempted (420).

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is closing in on his 500th career victory with 497 wins to date. He currently ranks second all-time among A&M women’s basketball coaches with 89 victories behind former head coach Lynn Hickey (154). The 2007 Big 12 Coach of the Year has led the Aggies to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, their first-ever conference title and the program’s highest national ranking (No. 10) in school history. Blair holds the distinction of being one of only five active Division I women’s basketball coaches to lead three different schools to a top 25 ranking next to Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Ohio State’s Jim Foster, Mississippi State’s Sharon Fanning and Arkansas’ Tom Collen.

TEXAS TECH RECAP

Four players scored in double figures as No. 23 Texas A&M knocked off Texas Tech for only its third-ever road victory in Lubbock, 63-46, before a crowd of 11,352 at United Spirit Arena on Feb. 2. Takia Starks registered a game-high 22 points on 10-of-21 shooting, while Morenike Atunrase added 13 and Patrice Reado had 10. Danielle Gant paced the Aggies on both ends of the floor with 12 points and 10 rebounds for her 10th career double-double. Down by one at halftime, A&M used a second-half surge to cap a 22-0 run which ended with a three-pointer by Texas Tech’s Jordan Murphree with 1:23 remaining in regulation. Over the final 12 minutes, A&M outscored the Lady Raiders, 26-5. The Aggies outhustled the Lady Raiders on the boards, 40-26 behind a career-high 14 rebound effort from junior La Toya Micheaux which included 13 on the defensive end. It marked a season-low for Texas Tech which was 20 rebounds below their league-leading average (46.0). Tech’s top two scorers, Dominic Seals and Erin Myrick, were also limited by A&M’s defensive pressure inside which held the duo to nine and six points respectively. Murphree was the only Lady Raider to score in double figures with 12.

“THINK PINK” WEEK AHEAD

The “Think Pink” national campaign set forth by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) is an initiative to raise breast cancer awareness in women’s basketball, on campuses and in communities. More than 750 schools nationwide will participate in “Think Pink” week which begins on Feb. 8 and concludes on Feb. 17. Texas A&M will participate in back-to-back “Think Pink” games on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at Oklahoma and on Sunday, Feb. 17 against Texas Tech in College Station. The Aggies will host the second-annual “Beat the Hell Outta Breast Cancer” game versus the Lady Raiders at 3 p.m. at Reed Arena. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. A&M’s goal is to raise $35,000 that will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which is the world’s largest and most progressive grass roots network of breast cancer survivors and activists. A “BTHO Breast Cancer” 5K Fun Run sponsored by Chevron will be held in conjunction with the game and T-shirts will also be sold for $5 at various locations. For more information on the “BTHO Breast Cancer” game and its surrounding festivities, please visit the event’s special website at www.AggieAthletics.com.

CONFERENCE ROUND-UP

Frontrunner Baylor (8-1) holds a one-game lead over Kansas State (7-1) in the latest Big 12 Conference standings with both of the Oklahoma schools tied for third with 6-2 marks in league play. Nebraska (6-3) and A&M (4-4) are situated in the top half of the Big 12 in fifth-and sixth-place respectively. Texas and Iowa State are tied for seventh at 3-5, while Texas Tech and Kansas are tied for ninth at 2-6. Colorado (2-7) and Missouri (1-8) round out the field.

BIG 12 CONFERENCE STANDINGS

1. Baylor (20-2, 8-1)

2. Kansas State (15-6, 7-1)

3T. Oklahoma State (18-3, 6-2)

3T. Oklahoma (16-4, 6-2)

5. Nebraska (17-6, 6-3)

6. Texas A&M (16-6, 4-4)

7T. Texas (15-7, 3-5)

7T. Iowa State (14-7, 3-5)

9T. Texas Tech (14-8, 2-6)

9T. Kansas (13-8, 2-6)

11. Colorado (13-9, 2-7)

12. Missouri (8-14, 1-8)

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 Tap Bentz on KZNE 1150 AM. A live audio feed will also be available on www.AggieAthletics.com.

LOOKING AT THE RPI

Texas A&M is currently rated No. 15 in the latest RPI index according to CollegeRPI.com as of Feb. 7. The Aggies boast the nation’s eighth toughest schedule with 15 of their opponents advancing to postseason play a year ago. Upcoming opponents Texas and Oklahoma are rated No. 34 and No. 8 respectively. Seven of A&M’s last eight games of the season will come against teams with an RPI rating of 35 or better.

AGGIES BACK IN THE NATIONAL POLLS

A&M made its way back into the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll with a No. 21 national ranking on Monday and climbed three spots to No. 20 in the latest USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Top 25 Poll released on Tuesday. The Aggies have appeared a program-best 34-straight weeks in the Coaches Poll since the 2005-06 season. A&M is one of five Big 12 schools ranked in the national polls next to No. 5 Baylor, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 17/16 Oklahoma State and No. 18 Kansas State.

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL

1. Connecticut (21-0)

2. Tennessee (20-1)

3. North Carolina (19-2)

4. Maryland (23-2)

5. Baylor (20-1)

6. Stanford (19-3)

7. Rutgers (18-3)

8. LSU (18-3)

9. California (19-3)

10. Oklahoma (15-4)

11. Duke (16-5)

12. West Virginia (18-3)

13. Old Dominion (18-3)

14. George Washington (18-4)

15. Pittsburgh (17-4)

16. Notre Dame (17-5)

17. Oklahoma State (17-3)

18. Kansas State (15-6)

19. Ohio State (17-5)

20. Utah (18-3)

21. Texas A&M (16-6)

22. Wyoming (18-3)

23. Syracuse (17-4)

24. Georgia (16-6)

25. DePaul (16-5)

USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES TOP 25 POLL

1. Connecticut (21-0)

2. Tennessee (20-1)

3. North Carolina (20-2)

4. Maryland (24-2)

5. Baylor (20-1)

6. Stanford (19-3)

7. Rutgers (18-3)

8. LSU (18-3)

9. California (19-3)

10. Oklahoma (15-4)

11. West Virginia (18-3)

12. Duke (16-6)

13. George Washington (18-4)

14. Old Dominion (18-3)

15. Pittsburgh (17-4)

16. Oklahoma State (17-3)

17. Notre Dame (17-5)

18. Kansas State (15-6)

19. Ohio State (17-5)

20. Texas A&M (16-6)

21. Georgia (16-6)

22. Wyoming (18-3)

23. Utah (18-3)

24. Syracuse (17-4)

25. DePaul (16-5)