KANSAS CITY, MO -- There is no other team hotter in the Big 12 Conference than Texas A&M. The Aggies have won 10 of their last 11 games to close out the regular season and finish in a tie for third place in the final league standings with an 11-5 record. It marked only the third time A&M turned in a 10-win season in league play since the formation of the Big 12 in 1996-97. The fourth-seeded Aggies will face either fifth-seeded Oklahoma (21-7) or 12th-seeded Missouri (9-20) in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship on Wednesday, March 12 at 2:30 p.m. (CT). The conference tournament will run from March 11-13 & 15 at historic Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. Picked as the preseason favorite to win its second-consecutive conference crown prior to the 2007-08 season, a veteran-led A&M squad looks to make every game count and continue its hot streak into postseason play. The Aggies have made the biggest turnaround in the league turning a 1-4 start into their current league-best six-game win streak. They could prove to be dangerous in their quest of rising to the occasion and adding additional hardware to their trophy case.
HOW THEY GOT THERE
A&M earned one of four tops seeds along with Big 12 regular season champion and top-seeded Kansas State (21-8), second-seeded Baylor (24-5) and third-seeded Oklahoma State (23-6). A&M went 2-3 this past season against the four top seeds combined splitting the series with the Lady Bears and Cowgirls. The Aggies tied Oklahoma and OSU for third-place with identical 11-5 records in league play. Both the Aggies and Cowgirls tied each other with a 7-3 divisional record versus the Big 12 South, but OSU earned the No. 3 seed due to the tiebreaker with its series sweep of Baylor, the highest-ranked divisional team. A&M and OU are the only two Big 12 South schools in the top half of the tournament bracket along with K-State, Missouri, eighth-seeded Iowa State and ninth-seeded Colorado.
AGGIES IN POSTSEASON PLAY
Texas A&M is 3-11 all-time in Big 12 Championship games and received a first-round bye for the third-straight year. Just a year ago, the top-seeded Aggies moved on to the semifinals for the second time in league history with a 62-45 victory over eighth-seeded Colorado in quarterfinal action in Oklahoma City. A&M was later upset by fifth-seeded Iowa State (57-51) in the semis. The Aggies have only beaten the No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8 seeds all-time in the tournament with victories over sixth-seeded Nebraska in the quarterfinals in 2005 and seventh-seeded Texas in the first round in 1998. They have faced eight of the 11 schools in postseason play and have never appeared in the championship game since the league’s inception in 1996-97.
BIG 12 TOURNEY ON THE AIR
For a school-record 10th time this season, Texas A&M will appear on television as the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game will be aired live on Fox Sports Net. The Aggies are 6-3 when playing on the tube this season and have won their last four nationally-televised contests on ESPN2 and FSN. Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Brenda VanLengen (color analyst) will call A&M’s quarterfinal game live from Municipal Auditorium on FSN Arizona, FSN Bay Area, FSN Detroit, FSN Florida, FSN Midwest, MSG Plus, FSN North, FSN Northwest, FSN Ohio, FSN Pittsburgh, FSN Rocky Mountain, FSN South, FSN Southwest, FSN West, FSN Wisconsin and Comcast New England. Check your local listings.
2008 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship Schedule
Tuesday, March 11 (Metro Sports)
Game 1: #8 Iowa State vs. #9 Colorado - Noon
Game 2: #5 Oklahoma vs. #12 Missouri - 2:30 p.m.
Game 3: #7 Texas vs. #10 Texas Tech - 6:00 p.m.
Game 4: #6 Nebraska vs. #11 Kansas - 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 12 (FSN)
Game 5: #1 Kansas State vs. Game 1 Winner - Noon
Game 6: #4 Texas A&M vs. Game 2 Winner - 2:30 p.m.
Game 7: #2 Baylor vs. Game 3 Winner - 6:00 p.m.
Game 8: #3 Oklahoma State vs. Game 4 Winner - 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 13 (FSN)
Game 9: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 - 6:00 p.m.
Game 10: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 - 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 15 (FSN)
Game 11: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10 - 6:00 p.m.
Oklahoma has been one of the most successful teams in Big 12 Championship history. The Sooners rank second to only Iowa State in most games played (24) and most wins (17) in postseason conference tournament play. They are looking to erase a two-game losing skid with losses to Texas (65-50) on March 2 and Texas A&M (73-59) on March 6 to close out the regular season. OU has won four Big 12 Tournament titles in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Head coach Sherri Coale also owns a .708 winning percentage in Big 12 Championship games. All-American center Courtney Paris continues to put up dominating numbers averaging 18.3 points and a nation-leading 14.9 rebounds per game. She is one of seven players nationally averaging a double-double in both categories and is one of only seven all-time players in Big 12 Conference history to record 2,000 points in a career (2,039). The Sooners currently rank third nationally in rebound margin (+12.0) and eighth nationally in blocked shots per game (5.9) as of March 6.
EYEING THE TIGERS
Missouri is perhaps the biggest underdog in the postseason tournament having lost 9 of its last 10 games of the regular season. The Tigers went 2-14 in league play with victories over border rival Kansas (62-59) on Feb. 24 and Texas Tech (68-59) on Jan. 12. Historically, Mizzou has won only five Big 12 Championship games which is two more than A&M’s three all-time wins at the league tourney. Leading scorer and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection Alyssa Hollins is one of three MU players averaging double figures (16.7 ppg) which ranks fifth-best in the league. She also ranks seventh nationally in three-point field goals made (2.9 avg) as of March 6.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
No. Name 2007-08 Stats
10 A’Quonesia Franklin, G, 5-3, Sr. 7.5 ppg, 4.8 apg
3 Takia Starks, G, 5-8, Jr. 17.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg
55 Danielle Gant, G/F, 5-11, Jr. 15.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg
24 Patrice Reado, F, 6-0, Sr. 8.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg
12 La Toya Micheaux, C, 6-3, Jr. 3.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg
No. Name 2007-08 Stats
13 Danielle Robinson, G, 5-9, Fr. 12.7 ppg, 4.3 apg
11 Jenna Plumley, G, 5-4, So. 7.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg
21 Amanda Thompson, F, 6-0, So. 8.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg
5 Ashley Paris, F, 6-3, Jr. 11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg
3 Courtney Paris, C, 6-4, Jr. 18.3 ppg, 14.9 rpg
No. Name 2007-08 Stats
11 Toy Richbow, G, 5-6, So. 3.1 ppg, 3.8 apg
12 Alyssa Hollins, G, 5-11, Jr. 16.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg
32 Marissa Scott, F, 6-2, So. 1.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg
4 Jessra Johnson, F, 6-1, So. 13.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg
44 Shakara Jones, F, 6-2, Fr. 10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg
2007-08 Category TAMU OU MU
Overall Record 23-7 21-7 9-20
Conference Record 11-5 11-5 2-14
Points Per Game 65.5 73.2 58.7
Scoring Margin +9.8 +11.5 -7.7
Rebounds Per Game 37.8 44.6 33.4
Rebounding Margin +2.8 +12.0 -7.2
Field Goal Percentage 41.2 45.8 37.9
Field Goal% Defense 39.4 37.7 42.0
Three-Point FG% 31.7 28.1 35.8
Free Throw Percentage 67.2 65.6 61.0
Turnovers Per Game 15.8 18.6 15.8
Assists Per Game 13.3 15.3 12.4
Blocks Per Game 4.4 5.9 3.6
Steals Per Game 10.2 10.3 8.6
Oklahoma leads 24-11 and Missouri 7-6 in the all-time series versus Texas A&M. The Aggies have met OU twice (0-2) and Missouri once (0-1) in postseason play. The Sooners prevailed with two first-round victories over A&M in the 2004 and 2005 Big 12 Championships, while the Tigers advanced to the quarterfinals with a first-round win in 2001. Both the 2001 MU and 2005 OU meetings occurred in Kansas City. A&M split the home-and-home series with the Sooners by claiming a 73-59 victory in the team’s regular-season finale on March 6. The Aggies have now won three of their last four meetings versus OU. A&M also defeated Mizzou (62-43) on Jan. 29 in its 1,000th game in 34 seasons of Aggie Basketball. The Aggies hold a three-game win streak versus the Tigers in the all-time series. A&M has met every league school except for Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech in the postseason tournament. In addition to OU and Mizzou, the Aggies have faced Baylor (0-2), Colorado (1-0), Iowa State (0-3), Nebraska (1-1), Oklahoma State (0-1) and Texas (1-1).
LAST TIME OUT
Danielle Gant celebrated her 21st birthday in style by scoring 21 points and leading No. 17 Texas A&M to its sixth-straight win in Big 12 Conference play. Gant also had 12 rebounds to lead the Aggies to a 73-59 victory over 11th-ranked Oklahoma on March 6, their second win in a row over a top 10 team. The Aggies led this one from start to finish and maintained a double-digit lead through most of the game. Texas A&M had a seven point lead at halftime and opened the second half with a 12-3 run to take a 45-29 lead with about 16 minutes left. Gant had two straight jump shots to cap that run. The Aggies put the game completely out of reach with a 17-7 run after that to stretch the lead to 62-36 with about five minutes left. Oklahoma didn’t score a basket for an almost 7 1/2 minute span in the second half. The drought stretched from 13:01 until Jenna Plumley’s jump shot with 5:32 left. The Sooners finished the game with a 23-11 run, but their deficit was too much to overcome. Courtney Paris’ streak of 89 consecutive games with a double-double came dangerously close to being broken as she turned in 27 points and 11 rebounds. She had just one rebound at halftime and didn’t get her 10th until there was just 1:21 left. Texas A&M led by one point before going on a 10-0 run to take a 16-5 lead with about 14 minutes left in the first half. OU then scored nine of the next 11 points to cut the lead to 18-14 midway through the half. The Sooners had cut he lead to three points before Texas A&M went on an 11-2 run to push its lead to 31-19 about four minutes before halftime. The Aggies got nine points from Takia Starks in that span. Starks added 19 points and Morenike Atunrase had 10 for Texas A&M. Oklahoma outscored A&M 7-2 the rest of the half to get within 33-26 at halftime.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Head coach Gary Blair is 5-10 all-time versus Oklahoma and 7-3 all-time versus Missouri in his 23 years as a Division I head coach. He is also 2-4 in Big 12 Championship games since his arrival in Aggieland in 2003-04.
• Blair holds Kansas City near and dear to his heart as he previously led Arkansas to the 1998 NCAA Final Four held at Kemper Arena. The ninth-seeded Lady Razorbacks upset second-seeded Duke (77-72) in the West Regional, but later lost to the eventual national champion Tennessee in the semifinals. In addition, his wife, Dr. Nan Smith-Blair, completed her Ph.D. studies in 2000 at the University of Kansas School of Nursing in Kansas City. She is currently an associate professor of nursing at the University of Arkansas.
• For Texas A&M’s senior class, this will be their second trip to Kansas City for the Big 12 Championship next to the freshman season in 2004-05. The 10th-seeded Aggies met seventh-seeded Oklahoma in the first round in the 2005 Tournament which resulted in an 86-65 loss to the Sooners.
• Freshman Tyra White returns home to the Kansas City area where she starred at Hickman Hills High School and was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Missouri. White, the second McDonald’s High School All-American to ever sign with A&M, suffered a season-ending ACL injury to her right knee in four minutes of play in the team’s season opener at SMU on Nov. 9. Tabbed as Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year, she was rated the No. 17 overall prospect in the nation by HoopGurlz.com and the fourth-best shooting guard by the All-Star Girls Basketball Report.
A&M’s current league-best six-game win streak matched its season-high stretch in a 60-48 win over Indiana in the 2007 Paradise Jam on Nov. 24 in the U.S. Virgin Islands to a 66-65 overtime loss at No. 22 George Washington on Dec. 20 in Washington, D.C. Ironically, the Aggies won 10 of their last 11 games en route to their first-ever Big 12 Conference title in 2006-07.
Texas A&M has held all but one opponent of the season under 68 points with the nation’s 19th-best scoring defense which has limited opponents to an average of 55.7 points per game which ranks second in the league behind Iowa State (55.1). Only Nebraska (73), Oklahoma (68) and Colorado (68) have scored 68 points or more against the Aggie defense. In fact, A&M has held opponents to under 60 points on 22 occasions this season including an opponent season-low 36 points versus Wichita State on Nov. 22.
With postseason play ahead, the Aggies are chasing the school record for most wins in a single season of 26 in 1978-79. This year’s A&M squad is currently tied for the fourth-most wins in school history with 23 victories on the season which ties the 2005-06 and 1993-94 campaigns. Last season, the Aggies compiled the second-most wins (25) and fewest losses in a single season all-time.
TEXAS A&M HOLD’EM
In its last four games, A&M’s trademark defense has held rival Texas (50), Iowa State (46), Baylor (53) and Oklahoma (59) to either its fewest or second-fewest points of the season. Both BU and OU rank among the top scoring offenses in the league and in the nation. The Aggies have held opponents to 53.3 points per game in its current 10-of-11 winning stretch in comparison to 65.6 points per game in their 1-4 Big 12 start. Defensively speaking, A&M also ranks tops in the league in three-point field goal percentage defense (.260) and turnover margin (+5.77). The Aggies also rank fourth in steals per game (10.2 avg) behind Big 12 All-Defensive Team selection Danielle Gant who is averaging 2.3 steals per game which ranks third-best behind Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley and Nebraska’s Yvonne Turner.
Opponents (Points Allowed) and Points Below Scoring Average
Texas (50) - 19.7
Iowa State (46) - 16.1
Baylor (53 points) - 19.7
Oklahoma (59 points) - 14.2
LOOKING AT THE RPI
Texas A&M currently holds a ratings percentage index of No. 9 according to CollegeRPI.com as of March 8. The Aggies boast the nation’s sixth-strongest schedule behind only Tennessee, Rutgers, Connecticut, Duke and Oklahoma. The Big 12 is currently rated the No. 1 conference in the land as member schools have won 81 percent of their overall games (129-30) played this season. In addition, seven teams are rated 35 or higher with three in the RPI top 10 including A&M, No. 10 rated OU and No. 7 rated Baylor. ESPN.com bracketologist Charlie Creme recently predicted A&M to receive a No. 3 seed in the New Orleans Regional with the Big 12 and Big East Conferences getting an unprecedented eight teams into the field of 64 come March.
THE BIG 12 CONFERENCE AT A GLANCE
Kansas State won its second-ever Big 12 Conference regular season title outright with a 13-3 mark in league play. Baylor finished in second with a 12-4 mark, while A&M was in a three-way tie for third with Oklahoma and OSU at 11-5. The Aggies were the hottest team down the stretch making up at least two games against the Big 12 field. Nebraska rounded out the top half of the league standings with a 9-7 record for sixth place. Texas and Iowa State tied for seventh at 7-9, while Colorado placed ninth at 5-11. Texas Tech (4-12), Kansas (4-12) and Missouri (2-14) finished tied for 10th and 12th respectively.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE STANDINGS
1. Kansas State (21-8, 13-3)
2. Baylor (24-5, 12-4)
3T. Oklahoma State (23-6, 11-5)
3T. Texas A&M (23-7, 11-5)
3T. Oklahoma (21-7, 11-5)
6. Nebraska (20-10, 9-7)
7T. Texas (19-11, 7-9)
7T. Iowa State (18-11, 7-9)
9. Colorado (16-13, 5-11)
10T. Texas Tech (16-14, 4-12)
10T. Kansas (15-14, 4-12)
12. Missouri (9-20, 2-14)