The fourth-ranked Texas A&M women’s basketball team (17-4, 5-3) goes back to the drawing board as it prepares for its third consecutive Big 12 Conference North foe in Nebraska (10-11, 1-7) in a matinee matchup scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 8 at Reed Arena. Tipoff between the Aggies and Cornhuskers is set for 2 p.m. (CT). A&M is looking to regroup after a tough 67-50 road block at Iowa State which saw its lowest scoring output of the season and ended a three-game win streak in league play on Feb. 4 in Ames, Iowa. The Aggies return home to the friendly confines of Reed Arena where they boast an 8-1 record this season. They look to erase the outcome of the ISU game from their memory banks and revert back to their familiar blueprint for success, in-your-face defense which has held opponents to 54.2 points per game which currently ranks third best in the Big 12 and 16th nationally. After being battle-tested on the road for five of its first eight contests of the conference season, A&M gears up for a four-game homestand in its next five. Upset-minded Nebraska looks to end a four-game skid having been depleted in its lineup with season-ending injuries to key players from its 2008 NCAA Second Round squad. The Huskers are 0-4 in their attempts away from Lincoln.
The 2008-09 season marks the 35th anniversary of the Texas A&M women’s basketball program. The Aggies will welcome back more than 30 former players and staff from all eras of women’s basketball in a reunion day at Reed Arena. The Texas A&M Women’s Chorus will also be featured at halftime as part of the “Music in Aggieland” entertainment scheduled for the Nebraska game. Tickets are available for purchase by calling 1-888-99-AGGIE, online at www.12thmanfoundation.com, or in person at the 12th Man Foundation Ticket Center’s Kyle Field or Reed Arena locations.
THE HUSKERS AT A GLANCE
Nebraska is searching for its second win in league play and has lost three of its last four to ranked competition. The Huskers lost a 62-48 decision to then-unranked Iowa State on Jan. 24 and suffered a 51-40 loss at No. 14 Kansas State on Jan. 27. They will be given their second consecutive top 10 test after a near upset of No. 8 Baylor in a close 76-71 loss on Feb. 4 in Lincoln. NU has been plagued by injuries this season and is without the services of senior All-Big 12 First Team performer Kelsey Griffin, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. The Huskers, who were picked to finish eighth in the preseason Big 12 coaches poll, also lost junior Nikki Bober to an ACL injury on Dec. 30 and freshman Layne Reeves underwent knee surgery on Jan. 23. They are looking to salvage a once promising season behind the leadership of veterans Cory Montgomery (14.2 ppg) and Yvonne Turner (11.8 ppg).
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
No. Name 2008-09 Stats
51 Sydney Colson, G, 5-8, So. 5.7 ppg, 3.3 apg
3 Takia Starks, G, 5-8, Sr. 16.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg
22 Tanisha Smith, G/F, 6-0, Jr. 8.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg
55 Danielle Gant, G/F, 5-11, Sr. 14.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg
12 La Toya Micheaux, C, 6-3, Sr. 3.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg
No. Name 2008-09 Stats
24 Dominique Kelley, G, 5-7, So. 9.8 ppg, 2.7 apg
22 Yvonne Turner, G, 5-8, Jr. 11.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
5 Kaitlyn Burke, G, 5-7, So. 5.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg
40 Cory Montgomery, F, 6-2, Jr. 14.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg
44 Catheryn Redmon, C, 6-3, So. 5.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg
2008-09 Category TAMU NU
Overall Record 17-4 10-11
Conference Record 5-3 1-7
Points Per Game 66.8 64.5
Scoring Margin +12.5 +3.1
Rebounds Per Game 38.9 36.7
Rebounding Margin +2.5 -1.9
Field Goal Percentage 41.8 39.7
Field Goal% Defense 35.3 40.4
Three-Point FG% 32.3 33.3
Free Throw Percentage 67.5 69.4
Turnovers Per Game 16.7 15.6
Assists Per Game 12.6 11.7
Blocks Per Game 4.0 3.0
Steals Per Game 12.0 7.3
Nebraska leads 13-5 in the all-time series versus Texas A&M. The Aggies have won three of the last four meetings between the two schools including a down-to-the-wire 66-65 (+1) victory on Jan. 24, 2007 in College Station. A&M’s other wins in that particular four-game stretch includes a 73-64 win in the 2006 Big 12 Championship quarterfinals in Dallas and the Aggies’ first-ever win on the road in Lincoln (69-50) on Feb. 11, 2006. The Cornhuskers’ last win in the series was a 73-60 upset of A&M which snapped a three-game losing skid in the series on Jan. 23, 2008 in Lincoln. The Aggies are 4-5 lifetime when playing Nebraska at home.
Danielle Page recorded a game-high 25 points to lead Nebraska to its 11th-straight home victory of the season with a 73-60 win over No. 20 Texas A&M on Jan. 23, 2008 at the Devaney Center. The Aggies were led in scoring with 18 points from Takia Starks and 16 points from Danielle Gant. Gant had seven of A&M’s first points of the contest as the Aggies took a 14-6 lead with 12:11 to go on the first-half clock. Page helped Nebraska regain the lead by scoring 15 of her 25 points in the first half alone to give the Huskers a 42-29 halftime edge. In the second half of play, the Aggies inched closer and got within five points on a jumper by Gant at the 9:45 minute mark. A&M, however, couldn’t shake off Nebraska’s defensive pressure as the Huskers led by as many as 19 points down the stretch. Kelsey Griffin turned in a double-double performance with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskers who converted 25-of-33 attempts from the free throw line. For the game, the Aggies shot 46.6 percent from the floor (27-of-58) in comparison to Nebraska’s 41.1 percent. The Husker defense forced A&M to commit a season-high 30 turnovers in which they converted into 25 of their opponent season-high 73 points. Morenike Atunrase contributed eight points and six rebounds in only her second start of the season after recovering from surgery to correct a non-healing stress fracture in her right tibia.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL
The Aggies have limited their turnovers on the court in their last two outings with only 10 in a win over Kansas on Jan. 31 and 10 in a road loss at No. 21 Iowa State on Feb. 4. It marked the second-fewest turnovers in a game this season next to a season-low eight against No. 25 New Mexico in non-conference play on Dec. 30. A&M is tops in the Big 12 in turnover margin (+5.8) which currently ranks ninth among NCAA statistical leaders as of Feb. 5. They are forcing opponents to an average of 22.5 miscues per game. Freshman back-up point guard Sydney Carter (DeSoto, Texas) boasts a team-best 2.45 assist-to-turnover ratio (27-11) in 20 games played with one start.
OLDIES BUT GOODIES
Since the program’s last reunion weekend three years ago against Missouri on Jan. 21, 2006, a lot has happened in Aggieland. A&M has made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and won two Big 12 Conference Championship titles (postseason in 2008 and regular season in 2007). Former players and staff scheduled to come back for the reunion weekend are: Cissy Auclair (’76), Yvonne (Hill) Adams (’91), Morenike Atunrase (’08), Francey Beall (’81), Amanda Blankenstein (’04), Donyale Canada (’94), Karen (Muskiet) Crain (’78), Trigg Crawford (’81), Lori Dillard (’90), Sherri Dillard (’92), DeAnna Doles (’05), Janet Duckham (’85), Jenni Edgar (’85), Vanessa Edwards (’92), A’Quonesia Franklin (’08), Prissy (Sharpe) Fricke (’00), Sally Galbraith (’77), Mindy Garrison (’05), Cindy Gough (’79), Wendy (Jennings) Hines (’91), Jennifer (Fasnacht) Hull (’92), Laura (Walker) Joiner (’84), Kelly Krauskopf (’83), Lisa Langston (’86), Donna (Roper) Limbrick (’89), Diane (Quitta) Lueckemeyer (’76), Louise Madison (’90), Karol (Decuir) Maroney (’93), Beth (Burket) McIntyre (’94), Kelly Meyers (’03), Martha (McClelland) Murphy (’96), Jen Nixon (’77), Denise (Bettis) Patton (’78), Katy Pounds (’08), Patrice Reado (’08), Nikki (Littles) Robinson (’94), LaToya Rose (’02), Karey (Janak) Satksy (’92), Cathy (Fuller) Sefcik (’81), Susan Smith (’91), Traci Thomas (’89), Pat (Bond) Werner (’80), Shanae (Ford) Wilbert (’94) and Amy Yates (’99).
• Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is 3-3 lifetime versus Nebraska in his 24 years as a Division I head coach. Blair and Nebraska head coach Connie Yori were both hired by Texas A&M Director of Athletics Bill Byrne. Byrne was previously the AD at Nebraska from 1992-2002 and hired Yori away from her alma mater Creighton in 2002, while Byrne hired Blair away from Arkansas in 2003 in his first season in Aggieland.
• Byrne is not the only Nebraska connection among the athletic department’s senior staff. Senior associate athletic director for external operations Jeff Schmahl and associate athletic director for football Tim Cassidy are both Nebraska natives and worked under Byrne in Lincoln and College Station.
• A&M and Nebraska were both selected to last year’s NCAA Tournament field of 64. The Big 12 became the first conference in tournament history to have its member schools post a combined 8-0 record in the first round. A 91-52 first-round rout of UTSA for the second-seeded Aggies and a 61-58 victory over Xavier for the eighth-seeded Huskers solidified the milestone for the league. A&M reached its first-ever NCAA Elite Eight, while Nebraska’s postseason run was cut short by top-seeded Maryland (76-64) in the second round.
IOWA STATE RECAP
Iowa State 67, Texas A&M 50
• For the seventh time this year, Texas A&M used the starting five of Sydney Colson, Takia Starks, Tanisha Smith, Danielle Gant and La Toya Micheaux (5-2).
• Iowa State improves to 14-4 in the all-time series with A&M. With the loss, the Aggies are now 0-7 when playing on the road in Ames.
• Takia Starks registered her eighth-straight double-digit game with a team-high 18 points against the Cyclones. She surpassed former All-American Lisa Branch (1992-96) with a three-pointer at the 12:38 minute mark of the first half to become Texas A&M’s all-time career three-point leader (167). Her eight-game double-digit scoring streak is her longest of the season. Starks went 53.3 percent from the field (8-of-15) to mark her seventh shooting performance of the season in the 50-percent or better range.
• Iowa State drained an opponent season-high 10 three-pointers behind an opponent season-high seven threes courtesy of Heather Ezell. ISU held A&M to its fewest first-half points (21) next to 21 at Oklahoma State on Jan. 24. The Aggies scored a season-low 50 points with its preview low coming at Arizona (54) on Nov. 25.
• Sophomore Maryann Baker came off the bench and played a league career-high six minutes against the Cyclones.
AGGIE NOTABLE QUOTABLES
“It’s a tribute to have a lot of different eras of our women’s basketball program come back this weekend for the reunion. I want all former players to feel welcomed when they come back to Aggieland. I especially want to see the kids who have played under me – the players who helped build this program back in our first year here when we were struggling. I would like to see the Melissa Picone’s, Sabrina Mitchell’s, Lynn Classen’s and Mindy Garrison’s. They mean so much to this program, even though they may not be in the record books as much as the Toccara Williams’, the A’Quonesia Franklin’s and the Morenike Atunrase’s. They all still helped build this program to what it is today. They are always Aggies and are always welcomed back. My goal is to have them continue to be ambassadors for our program. We like to host a reunion every three years and I would like them all to join the A&M Lettermen’s Association. There will be a little bit of pressure on my current kids to play well in front of the old guard. Hopefully, people will come out to watch us, because there will be a lot of good players that they remember well, current and past.” – Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair on the reunion weekend
“One of the top five players in the league was Kelsey Griffin and she redshirts this year because of an ankle problem that never healed. As a result, Nebraska started off well, but now as you get into conference play, they’ve really missed her. (Cory) Montgomery and (Catheryn) Redmon, a Texas kid, have been manning the post position this season instead. Yvonne Turner is doing a good job for them out in the guard position. Last year, we went up to Lincoln and got beat during our 1-4 run (to league play). We had 30 turnovers up there. Nebraska is going to come out and press us all over the court and see if we can handle the pressure. We are used to giving the pressure, but now, can we handle the pressure? Last year, we did a poor job of it. I think you will see a Nebraska team coming in here with nothing to lose.” – Coach Blair on what Nebraska brings to the table
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 KZNE 1150 AM. A live audio feed will also be available on www.AggieAthletics.com.