COLLEGE STATION- With a school-record 7-0 start to the season, the fourth-ranked and road-tested Texas A&M women’s basketball team looks to continue its winning ways as the Aggies play host to former Southwest Conference rival SMU (2-4) on Sunday, Dec. 7 at Reed Arena. It will mark A&M’s first home appearance in nearly a month having posted an impressive 6-0 record on the road versus No. 23 Pittsburgh, Michigan, Arizona, Penn State, Pepperdine and Stephen F. Austin. The SMU contest will mark the start of a five-game homestand for the Aggies who will put a seven-game home court winning streak on the line dating back to a 62-43 victory over Missouri on Jan. 29, 2008 versus the Mustangs. SMU is one of four teams in A&M’s next six-game slate which advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The Aggies enter the ballgame with some momentum defeating SFA by a season-high margin of 41 points in a 77-36 rout on Dec. 2 in Nacogdoches, Texas. The A&M defense is holding opponents to just 49.7 points per game and 31.5 percent shooting from the floor which ranks second-best in the Big 12 Conference.
Texas A&M will celebrate Junior Aggie Club Day at Reed Arena, while the Half-Price Holiday Hoops ticket promotion kicks off five-straight women’s home games through Jan. 3. Cheer Power will perform at halftime.
A VIEW OF THE MUSTANGS
SMU has won two of its last three contests defeating Sam Houston State (73-52) on Nov. 28 and Texas A&M Corpus-Christi (73-65) on Dec. 2. The Mustangs were picked to finish second in the preseason Conference USA poll after returning three starters from last year’s school-record 24-9 campaign. Last season, SMU made its seventh all-time NCAA Tournament appearance by claiming the C-USA Tournament title. Three players are averaging double figures including a team-high 15.7 points and 7.8 rebounds from junior Brittany Gilliam who was also one of the team’s top three scorers a year ago. The Ponies are searching for their first road win of the season going 0-2 in their attempts at Arkansas (69-78) on Nov. 21 and at Eastern Illinois (65-71 OT) on Nov. 22.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
No. Name 2008-09 Stats
51 Sydney Colson, G, 5-8, So. 4.7 ppg, 2.9 apg
3 Takia Starks, G, 5-8, Sr. 11.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg
55 Danielle Gant, G/F, 5-11, Sr. 12.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg
21 Adaora Elonu, F, 6-1, Fr. 7.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg
12 La Toya Micheaux, C, 6-3, Sr. 2.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg
No. Name 2008-09 Stats
10 Brittany Gilliam, G, 5-11, Jr. 15.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg
41 Jillian Samuels, G, 5-5, Jr. 10.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg
24 Haley Day, F, 5-10, So. 8.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
5 Delisha Wills, F, 5-10, Jr. 14.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg
40 Alice Severin, C, 6-2, Jr. 3.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg
2008-09 Category TAMU SMU
Overall Record 7-0 2-4
Conference Record 0-0 0-0
Points Per Game 64.3 72.2
Scoring Margin +14.6 +1.0
Rebounds Per Game 40.9 41.5
Rebounding Margin +5.3 +2.8
Field Goal Percentage 40.9 42.7
Field Goal% Defense 31.5 39.4
Three-Point FG% 34.5 37.9
Free Throw Percentage 67.6 68.6
Turnovers Per Game 20.1 19.2
Assists Per Game 13.0 12.5
Blocks Per Game 5.0 3.8
Steals Per Game 11.9 9.2
Texas A&M leads 24-17 in the all-time series with SMU. The Aggies have played the Mustangs on four occasions outside of Southwest Conference play. Sunday’s contest will mark the fourth time A&M will face SMU as a Big 12 member school next to non-conference meetings during the 1997-98, 1999-00 and 2007-08 seasons. The last five contests between the two schools have been decided by five points or less including a 62-57 A&M victory in Dallas on Nov. 9, 2007, to give the Aggies a two-game win streak in the series. A&M is 11-8 when playing the Ponies on its home court.
LAST FIVE GAMES IN SERIES
(+3) SMU 74, Texas A&M 71 @ College Station (12/4/96)
(+3) SMU 75, Texas A&M 72 @ Dallas (12/14/97)
(+3) SMU 78, Texas A&M 75 @ College Station (11/18/98)
(+4) Texas A&M 73, SMU 69 @ Dallas (11/30/99)
(+5) Texas A&M 62, SMU 57 @ Dallas (11/9/07)
Ashlaa Horton turned in her first career double-double to lead the 11th-ranked Texas A&M women’s basketball team to the program’s 500th all-time win with a 62-57 victory at SMU on Nov. 9, 2007, at Moody Coliseum. Horton registered 10 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds in the team’s season opener on the road. She was one of three double figure scorers for the Aggies. Takia Starks poured in 17 points, while Sydney Colson added 13 in her collegiate debut. A&M got into foul trouble early and sent SMU (0-1) to the charity stripe where they converted 17-of-23 in the first half of play. The Mustangs carried a 10-point halftime lead into the lockerroom, 36-26. The Aggies responded in the second half with a 19-4 second half run which was sparked by increased defensive pressure on SMU. A’Quonesia Franklin drained a long-range three-pointer to give A&M its first lead at the 15:01 minute mark in the second half, 39-38. A&M’s only lead prior was a first-half 7-1 run at the beginning of regulation play. A&M shot 38.1 percent from the floor and outrebounded SMU, 45-35. The Mustangs were led in scoring by Delisha Wills (17) and Janielle Dodds (15). The Aggie defense forced SMU to turnover the ball 20 times in the ballgame.
MOVING UP THE CHARTS
Three Aggie seniors continue to move up the all-time career charts at A&M. Takia Starks is three points shy of moving past former A&M great Prissy Sharpe for fourth all-time in career scoring with 1,504 points to date, while Danielle Gant is ninth with 1,237 points to date. Starks (602) and Gant (488) also rank second and tied for sixth all-time in field goals made respectively. Meanwhile, Gant (733) and La Toya Micheaux (630) rank fourth and seventh all-time in career rebounds. Since their arrival on campus, the 2009 Senior Class has led the Aggies to an impressive 84-24 record (.788) to date.
1. Lisa Branch (1992-96) - 1,939
2. Lisa Langston (1982-86) - 1,615
3. Donna Roper (1985-89) - 1,513
4. Prissy Sharpe (1996-00) - 1,506
5. Takia Starks (2006-Present) - 1,504
6. Morenike Atunrase (2005-08) - 1,317
7. Toccara Williams (2000-04) - 1,302
8. Kera Alexander (1996-00) - 1,239
9. Danielle Gant (2006-Present) - 1,237
10. Michell Tatum (1981-85) - 1,163
FIELD GOALS MADE
1. Lisa Langston (1982-86) - 627
2. Takia Starks (2006-Present) - 602
3. Donna Roper (1985-89) - 595
4. Lisa Branch (1992-96) - 580
5. Prissy Sharpe (1996-00) - 524
6T. Danielle Gant (2006-Present) - 488
6T. Jenni Edgar (1981-85) - 488
1. Prissy Sharpe (1996-00) - 920
2. Lisa Jordon (1985-89) - 911
3. Susan Kimbro (1977-80) - 782
4. Danielle Gant (2006-Present) - 733
5. Michell Tatum (1981-85) - 710
6. Trigg Crawford (1977-81) - 653
7. La Toya Micheaux (2006-Present) - 630
8. Lisa Langston (1982-86) - 617
9T. Peggy Pope (1978-80) - 582
9T. Toccara Williams (2000-04) - 582
The Aggies are one of only a handful of Division I schools nationally, 17 to be exact, who remain undefeated on the season. In the most recent CollegeRPI.com rankings as of Dec. 6, A&M is rated No. 3 in the RPI with the nation’s ninth-strongest schedule. The Aggies (7-0) are one of six schools ranked in the top 10 to keep an umblemished record against tough non-conference competition next to No. 1 Connecticut (6-0), No. 2 North Carolina (9-0), No. 3 California (6-0), No. 6T Texas (7-0) and No. 8 Notre Dame (6-0). Of those schools, UNC has been tested away from home on four occasions including two on the road and two on a neutral site at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas, followed by fellow State Farm Tip-Off Classic school Notre Dame with three of their first six on the road and Cal with three of their first six on a neutral court at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. UConn has played the balance of their schedule at home (5-of-6) as well as Texas (5-of-7). The Aggies are currently 4-0 on the road and 2-0 on a neutral floor in their current seven-game win streak.
AGAINST NON-CONFERENCE FOES
The Aggies have posted two losses or less against non-conference foes in four out of the last five seasons in the Gary Blair Era. Last year, A&M went 12-2 in its pre-Big 12 Conference slate, 10-2 in 2006-07, 11-2 in 2005-06 and 9-1 in 2004-05. Overall, the Aggies have currently won 88 percent (49-of-56) of their non-conference games under Blair since the 2004-05 campaign.
• Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is 8-1 lifetime versus SMU in his extensive 24-year coaching career. He and SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola, a 1983 SMU graduate who is in her 18th season with the Mustangs, have a combined 42 years of coaching experience on the Division I level and are two of the deans of women’s college basketball in the state of Texas. They are joined in years of service to the women’s game by Houston head coach Joe Curl (20 overall years) and TCU head coach Jeff Mittie (18 overall years).
• A&M will face four-straight opponents hailing from one of the nation’s hotbeds for women’s basketball in Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 2, SMU on Dec. 7, Texas State on Dec. 13 and TCU on Dec. 21. In fact, six teams from the state of Texas were selected to participate in the 2008 NCAA Tournament field of 64 including the Aggies and Mustangs. Baylor, Texas, UTEP and UTSA also represented the Lone Star State. Second-seeded A&M fell to eventual national champion and top-seeded Tennessee in the Elite Eight (53-45), while 12th-seeded SMU lost to fifth-seeded Notre Dame in the first round (75-62).
• Fourth-year video coordinator Charlee Simmons is a 2005 graduate of SMU and served as a student assistant for head coach Rhonda Rompola and the women’s basketball program from 2001-05.
Texas A&M 77, Stephen F. Austin 36
• For the third time this season, Texas A&M used the starting five of Sydney Colson, Takia Starks, Danielle Gant, Adaora Elonu and La Toya Micheaux (3-0).
• With the victory, the Aggies picked up their second-ever road win at Stephen F. Austin in seven tries and made their first trip back to Nacogdoches in close to 25 years. It marked only their fourth win in the 17-game series and their largest margin of victory of their four all-time victories versus SFA.
• A&M turned in its best start in school history with its seventh-straight win. No squad had ever started the year off with more than six-straight wins to open a season in 35 years of Aggie Basketball.
• Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair was inducted into the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack Hall of Fame at halftime and was congratulated with a tribute video that included a message from NCAA Division I Vice President For Women’s Basketball Sue Donohoe who was one of his first assistant coaches at SFA.
• With one of the top scoring defenses in the country, A&M held SFA to its second-lowest first half of the season with 12 points behind a nine-point first half at No. 9 Baylor on Nov. 21.
• The Aggies shot a season-best 53.7 percent from the floor (29-of-54) including a 5-for-5 performance by Tanisha Smith and 8-of-11 performance by Adaora Elonu. All 15 players saw action in the game versus the Ladyjacks.
• SFA was the first A&M opponent to score 36 total points or less since Wichita State suffered a 70-36 loss to the Aggies in the Paradise Jam on Nov. 11, 2007. It tied for 29th all-time in largest margin of victories over an opponent in 35 seasons of Aggie Basketball.
AGGIE NOTABLE QUOTABLES
“It is going to be the best doubleheader in sports on Sunday with the SMU game and the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. We haven’t been home in so long and it is the day before finals really gets cranked up. Hopefully, we will have a lot of students and fans there. I love them reading the newspaper and listening to our games on the radio, but now, they will have a chance to come out and watch us. We are bringing back a much better basketball team than what we left here against Mercer on Nov. 14. We have played better despite the final box scores. We have played on the road and the road can do a lot of different things to you. Teams get up for playing top 10 teams. We played some good teams, but not great teams. We haven’t played the Stanford’s or the Connecticut’s or the Tennessee’s. There are just a couple of great teams out there right now. We are doing our part by winning and finding a way. We do not turn the ball over against these teams at the end of the game when it counts. We are making good decisions and winning on the road. We are showing that we are a pretty experienced team and we know how to win down the stretch.” – Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair on returning home this weekend and the parity in the women’s game
“I have to be wild to play six games on the road like we have done. It will be three and a half weeks before we play our first home game against SMU on Sunday. It was done on purpose, sort of like going to spring training or sending the Cowboys to Thousand Oaks. Going on the road with a young ballclub and not being afraid of losing a ballgame while you are getting better. It has been a risk-reward situation for us.” – Coach Blair on closing out a six-game road swing
“We have a lot of great young players who have a lot of potential. We have a lot of different looks with different lineups. We are really getting a feel for the game and seeing what the young ones can do.” – Senior All-America candidate Takia Starks on A&M’s depth this season
“We believed in our coaches and they believed in us. We made it happen. It is crazy how much media attention we are getting now. We are sticking to our hearts, working hard and doing the things we did to get us here to this point. Am I shocked about being ranked so high? It is pretty shocking from where we used to be. But, that is a tip of the hat by the media and everyone recognizing us for how hard we are playing right now. This is the first year that we have had a lot of depth with so many people who can play different positions. If someone has an off night, you know someone else will step up and that is a pretty good situation for us going into conference play. Everything our coaches promised us (during the recruiting process) has come true.” – Takia Starks on the team’s success and current rankings in the national polls
“We played SMU last year and they have great guards. They are hustle and scrappy players like us. They play really good defense.” – Takia Starks on SMU
“Just coming back to play in front of our fans will be a great feeling for us. We have been on the road for three weeks and we are looking forward to playing at home.” Senior All-America candidate Danielle Gant on returning home after a six-game road swing
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 Mike Wright will call the action live from Reed Arena alongside color analyst Tap Bentz on WTAW 1620 AM. A live audio feed will also be available on www.AggieAthletics.com.
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