No. 20 Texas A&M Looks To Pass Tough Road Test At No. 10 Oklahoma Tuesday

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NORMAN, OK -- Riding a four-game winning streak in Big 12 Conference play, the 20th-ranked Texas A&M women’s basketball team (17-6, 5-4) travels to No. 10 Oklahoma (17-4, 7-2) for a Tuesday, Feb. 12 road test in Norman, Okla. Opening tip between the Aggies and Sooners is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center.

A&M will face fierce Big 12 South competition over three games in an eight-day span. The Aggies most recently defeated archrival Texas (66-57) on Feb. 9 and will host a rematch with Texas Tech on Sunday, Feb. 17 in College Station. The team’s current win streak is the second-longest of the season. As always, A&M will play in hostile territory on the road as OU averages 9,763 fans per game which ranks third best in the nation among NCAA Division I attendance leaders. Last season, the defending Big 12 champions tied Oklahoma with a 13-3 regular-season mark and swept the Sooners for the first time in league play.

The Aggies look to pass one of their biggest tests of the season with flying colors, but OU will make it a tough assignment with one of the nation’s top scoring offenses (76.1) which is averaging a 47.2 shooting-percentage from the floor. However, the signature A&M defense has held their last three league opponents in Missouri, Tech and UT to a combined 48.7 points and 28.6 rebounds per game which is nearly 20 under each ballclub’s normal average in both categories.

“THINK PINK” WEEK

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 900 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.

THE SOONERS AT A GLANCE

It may be a rebuilding year for Oklahoma with the loss of six veterans from last season’s 28-5 NCAA Sweet 16 squad, but the Sooners are showing no signs of dropping out of the national radar. That’s due in part to co-Big 12 Player of the Week Courtney Paris who continues to dominate as she notched her 87th career double-double in an 82-66 rout of Colorado on Feb. 9 with a season-high 30 points and 14 rebounds. She tied current San Antonio Spurs all-star center Tim Duncan who set the NCAA men’s record with 87 career double-doubles during his college career at Wake Forest. Paris ranks No. 1 nationally in rebounds per game (15.2) which in return has led the Sooners to a nation-and conference-leading +14.5 rebounding margin versus opponents. OU is 9-1 on the season at home with an 84-73 setback to Baylor on Jan. 20. The Sooners are 4-4 this year against top 25 competition which includes quality losses to three of the last national champions in top-ranked Tennessee (70-67) on Nov. 15, fourth-ranked Maryland (76-66) on Nov. 11 and BU. Paris and twin sister Ashley (12.4 ppg) account for 39 percent of OU’s scoring production this season.

WATCH IT LIVE

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast in the state of Oklahoma on the Sooner Sports Network with Bob Carpenter (play-by-play) and Kenny Mossman (color analyst) calling the action live from Lloyd Noble Center. Cable subscribers can watch the game live on ESPN Full Court which can be found on Dish Network Channel 458 or DirecTV Channel 694.

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS

TEXAS A&M

No. Name 2007-08 Stats

10 A’Quonesia Franklin, G, 5-3, Sr. 7.7 ppg, 4.9 apg

3 Takia Starks, G, 5-8, Jr. 17.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg

55 Danielle Gant, G/F, 5-11, Jr. 14.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg

24 Patrice Reado, F, 6-0, Sr. 8.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg

12 La Toya Micheaux, C, 6-3, Jr. 3.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg

OKLAHOMA

No. Name 2007-08 Stats

11 Jenna Plumley, G, 5-4, So. 6.9 ppg, 3.6 apg

13 Danielle Robinson, G, 5-9, Fr. 12.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg

21 Amanda Thompson, F, 6-0, So. 9.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg

5 Ashley Paris, F, 6-3, Jr. 12.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg

3 Courtney Paris, C, 6-4, Jr. 17.3 ppg, 15.2 rpg

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

2007-08 Category TAMU OU

Overall Record 17-6 17-4

Conference Record 5-4 7-2

Points Per Game 65.4 76.1

Scoring Margin +9.7 +16.0

Rebounds Per Game 38.5 46.1

Rebounding Margin +3.1 +14.5

Field Goal Percentage 40.5 47.2

Field Goal% Defense 39.0 36.9

Three-Point FG% 30.4 29.0

Free Throw Percentage 67.9 64.6

Turnovers Per Game 16.5 18.3

Assists Per Game 13.1 16.0

Blocks Per Game 4.5 5.7

Steals Per Game 10.5 10.8

SERIES HISTORY

Oklahoma holds a 23-10 advantage in the all-time series. However, A&M has won the last two meetings between the two schools which snapped a previous eight-game losing skid in the 33-game series. The Aggies are 2-13 all-time when playing on the road in Norman. Last year, A&M won a 54-52 last-second thriller on the road to pick up its first-ever win in Norman since the league’s inception in 1996-97. Seven of A&M’s 10 victories in the series have occurred at home. The Aggies are 5-18 against the Sooners in Big 12 regular season play.

LOOKING BACK …

No. 16 Texas A&M came out focused and didn’t let down as the Aggies swept No. 12 Oklahoma for the first time in school history securing its hold of first-place in the Big 12 Conference title race with a 78-68 win on Feb. 10, 2007 at Reed Arena. The Aggie defense forced 24 Oklahoma turnovers in which they converted into 27 points. A&M also got 64 percent of its scoring production from its guard play. Takia Starks and A’Quonesia Franklin each racked up 25 points apiece. Starks scored 17 of her 25 points in the first half alone. Franklin dished out a career-high tying 10 assists to record her third career double-double. Danielle Gant added 11 points for the Aggies, while Oklahoma was led by All-American Courtney Paris who registered 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Sooners. The Aggies shot 5-of-10 from long-range in the first half including a trio of three-pointers by the hot-shooting Starks. A&M lead 37-29 at halftime, but OU would tie the game up at 39-39 with a 10-2 run to start the second half of play. For the game, A&M shot 45.5 percent from the floor and La Toya Micheaux grabbed 11 of the team’s 26 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Sooners went 2-of-11 from beyond the arc and 16-of-28 from the charity stripe.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Head coach Gary Blair is 4-9 all-time versus Oklahoma in his 23 years as a Division I head coach. All but one meeting versus the Sooners happened outside of his five-year A&M career. He and Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale were both successful high school coaches prior to their call up to the collegiate ranks. Blair led Dallas’ South Oak Cliff High School to a 239-18 (.923) record from 1973-80. He set a state record with five consecutive state tournament appearances and three state Class 4A titles. Prior to OU, Coale led Norman High School to two Class 6A state championships and a 147-40 record (.786) from 1990-96.

• Two current A&M players, junior Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and freshman Sydney Colson (Houston, Texas), were two heavily-recruited high school prospects who chose A&M over OU. Gant was named Oklahoma Player of the Year and a Nike All-American as a senior at Putnam City West High School in OKC. She once scored 40 points in a single game against Norman High School. Gant chose A&M over OU and South Carolina. Meanwhile, Colson was rated the No. 29 overall prospect and No. 8 point guard in the Class of 2007 and chose A&M over OU and LSU.

• Two of the shortest players in the Big 12 will be directing their squads in Tuesday night’s matchup in Norman. It will be a battle of floor generals between A&M 5-foot-3 point guard A’Quonesia Franklin and OU 5-foot-4 point guard Jenna Plumley. Both are ranked tops in the league in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. Franklin is averaging 4.9 assists per game with a 1.98 assist-to-turnover ratio which ranks second-best among Big 12 point guards, while Plumley is averaging 3.6 assists and a 1.42 assist-to-turnover ratio for 11th and eighth respectively in both categories.

ROAD WARRIORS

Texas A&M is 5-3 away from the friendly confines of Reed Arena and has won three of their last four games on the road in league play. The Aggies defeated Texas Tech (63-46) on Feb. 2 for only the third-ever win in Lubbock and Kansas (58-51) on Jan. 26. A&M’s only two road losses of the Big 12 season have come at Nebraska (73-60) on Jan. 23 and at No. 8 Baylor (59-56) on Jan. 12.

OKLAHOMA HOMECOMING

Junior combination guard/forward Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) returns home to the Sooner State for the sixth time of her career including last year’s Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City. She recently registered a game-high 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor and made 9-of-10 from the charity stripe versus Texas on Feb. 9. She scored a season-high 18 points in the first half alone. It marked her career-best point total against UT in five tries and a single-game personal best in league play. Gant also turned in six rebounds, three steals and two assists to secure the team’s second-straight win over the Longhorns in the all-time series. She extended her double-digit scoring streak to seven consecutive games and has turned in nine 20-point games of her career to date. Gant currently ranks ninth in the Big 12 in scoring (14.8 ppg), sixth in field-goal percentage (53.0), fourth in free throw percentage (80.4) and third in steals (2.6 avg). She is 56 points shy of reaching the 1,000 career-point plateau and ranks seventh all-time in career rebounds (587) and ninth all-time in career steals (166).

COUNTDOWN TO 500

Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is closing in on his 500th career victory with 498 wins to date. He currently ranks second all-time among A&M women’s basketball coaches with 90 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.

A FEARSOME FOURSOME

Two Aggies are currently within reach of the 1,000 career point plateau. Senior A’Quonesia Franklin (997) and junior Danielle Gant (944) look to join senior Morenike Atunrase (1,148) and junior Takia Starks (1,218) who have already reached the 1,000 career-point milestone. Only 11 known teams in NCAA women’s basketball history have had four 1,000-point scorers on their roster in a single season. Franklin is three points away from giving A&M only its second trio of 1,000 point scorers in school history. 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 in 1984-85. Franklin would also become only the third player in school history to record 1,000 career points and 500 career assists (567) next to All-American Lisa Branch (1992-96) and Toccara Williams (2000-04).

TEXAS RECAP

In the first edition of the State Farm Lone Star Showdown, No. 20 Texas A&M fended off a late second-half rally by rival Texas to secure its fourth-straight win in Big 12 Conference play, 66-57, before a season-high crowd of 4,910 at Reed Arena on Feb. 9. In the finals seconds of regulation, Morenike Atunrase was sent to the free throw line twice where she converted 3-of-4 shots to give A&M a nine-point edge and its second consecutive win over the Longhorns in the 72-game series between the two storied rivals. A&M led by as many as 19 points with 33 seconds left in the first half of play as UT trailed 39-22 at halftime. The Longhorns made their comeback in the second half and cut the lead to as few as four points with 1:45 to go, 59-55. Defensively, the Aggies kept UT on its toes forcing 21 turnovers including 12 in the first half alone. Danielle Gant scored 18 of her game-high 25 points in the first half and combined with teammates Takia Starks and Patrice Reado to account for 48 of the team’s final 66 points in the ballgame. Gant nearly tripled her career-best performance against the Longhorns in five tries on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor. Starks turned in 13 points, while Reado was short of a double-double with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds for A&M. Three Texas players scored in double figures including a team-high 12 points from Earnesia Williams. The A&M defense held leading scorers Brittainey Raven and Ashley Lindsey to only 10 points each. A’Quonesia Franklin contributed a well-rounded game for the Aggies with 10 of the team’s 17 assists coupled with nine points, five rebounds and two steals versus the Longhorns. It marked her seventh double-digit assist game of her career as A&M improved to 10-2 at home this year. Meanwhile, Texas remained winless on the road in Big 12 play.

AGGIES IN THE RPI

Texas A&M is currently rated No. 13 in the latest RPI index according to CollegeRPI.com as of Feb. 10. The Aggies boast the nation’s 10th toughest schedule with 15 of their opponents advancing to postseason play a year ago. Upcoming opponents Oklahoma and Texas Tech are rated No. 8 and No. 65 respectively. OU is one of three schools on A&M’s slate which advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2007. Additionally, the Big 12 Conference is rated the No. 1 league in the country with eight member schools rated in the RPI Top 30.

AROUND THE BIG 12

With seven games remaining in the Big 12 Conference race, Baylor (9-1) continues to lead the pack with a one-game lead over Kansas State (8-1). The Oklahoma schools follow behind with identical 7-2 marks, while Nebraska (6-4) and Texas A&M (5-4) round out the top half of the latest league standings. The Aggies are in sixth-place ahead of Iowa State (4-5), Texas (3-6), Texas Tech (2-7), Kansas (2-7), Colorado (2-8) and Missouri (1-9).

BIG 12 CONFERENCE STANDINGS

1. Baylor (21-2, 9-1)

2. Kansas State (16-6, 8-1)

3T. Oklahoma State (19-3, 7-2)

3T. Oklahoma (17-4, 7-2)

5. Nebraska (17-7, 6-4)

6. Texas A&M (17-6, 5-4)

7. Iowa State (15-7, 4-5)

8. Texas (15-8, 3-6)

9T. Texas Tech (14-9, 2-7)

9T. Kansas (13-9, 2-7)

11. Colorado (13-10, 2-8)

12. Missouri (8-15, 1-9)

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 the Lloyd Noble Center alongside Katy Pounds on KZNE 1150 AM. A live audio feed will also be available on www.AggieAthletics.com.

ON THE NATIONAL SCENE

Texas A&M moved up one spot to No. 20 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll released on Monday. The Aggies are one of five Big 12 schools ranked in the national polls next to No. 8 Baylor, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 15 Oklahoma State and No. 17 Kansas State. Kansas (9), Nebraska (5) and Texas (2) are also receiving votes in this week’s AP Poll. The Aggies are 2-3 this season against top 25 opponents including victories over No. 14 Auburn (62-60) on Dec. 15 and No. 25 Colorado (72-68) on Jan. 16.

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL

1. Tennessee (21-1)

2. Connecticut (22-1)

3. North Carolina (22-2)

4. Maryland (25-2)

5. Rutgers (19-3)

6. Stanford (22-3)

7. LSU (20-3)

8. Baylor (21-2)

9. California (21-3)

10. Oklahoma (17-4)

11. West Virginia (19-3)

12. Duke (18-6)

13. Old Dominion (20-3)

14. George Washington (19-4)

15. Oklahoma State (19-3)

16. Notre Dame (18-5)

17. Kansas State (16-6)

18. Pittsburgh (18-5)

19. Utah (20-3)

20. Texas A&M (17-6)

21. Syracuse (18-4)

22. Wyoming (19-3)

23. Ohio State (18-6)

24. UTEP (19-2)

25. Vanderbilt (18-6)