Top Seeded Aggies Clash With Fifth-Seeded Cyclones In Big 12 Semifinals

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- The top-seeded Texas A&M women’s basketball team (24-5) will clash with fifth-seeded Iowa State (24-7) in the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship on Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m. (CT) in Oklahoma City.

The Aggies will make their second all-time appearance in the tournament semifinals after a 62-45 rout of eighth-seeded Colorado in quarterfinal action Wednesday. A&M will look to stop the Cyclones’ path as they have won seven-straight since downing the Aggies (61-54) on Feb. 14 in Ames, Iowa. A&M had previously won a program-best six conference games in a row prior to the loss to ISU. The Cyclones moved on to the semifinals after knocking off fourth-seeded Nebraska (79-76) in overtime Wednesday night. Having already won the league’s regular season title, the Aggies are still eyeing the prize before them. However, Iowa State has won four of the last five meetings between the two schools. A&M has gone 11-1 in their last 12 outings. One of their three losses in league play this season was against Iowa State. This is the sixth time in league history that a No. 1 and No. 5 seed will meet in the semifinals. The No. 1 seed has prevailed four out of the five previous occasions except the inaugural season in 1997 when fifth-seeded Kansas State upset top-seeded Kansas (73-58) in the semifinals. Both teams will be vying for their 25th victory of the season and should be NCAA Tournament-bound come Selection Monday. Known for their total team play, the Aggies (15.7) and Cyclones (15.0) rank No. 2 and 3 in assists per game in the Big 12.

MUST SEE TV

For the seventh time this season, television viewers across the country will have the opportunity to see Aggie Basketball on national television. The FSN broadcast crew will include Kevin Eschenfelder (play-by-play) and Debbie Antonelli (color analyst). The semifinal game between the Aggies and Cyclones will be televised nationally on FSN Midwest, FSN Rocky Mountain, FSN Southwest and SportSouth. Delayed broadcasts will be aired on Friday on FSN Arizona (11 a.m.), FSN Bay Area (2 a.m.), FSN Detroit (2 a.m.), FSN New England (2 a.m.), FSN North (1 a.m.), FSN Northwest (1:30 a.m.) and FSN West (11 a.m.). Check your local listings. The Aggies have been successful this season compiling a 7-1 record when playing on the tube. They are 5-1 when playing on FSN.

THE SPIN ON IOWA STATE

Iowa State is the hottest team in the Big 12 having won seven-straight including wins over two top 25-ranked teams in No. 13 Texas A&M (61-54) on Feb. 14 and then-No. 25 Nebraska (64-53) on Feb. 20. Senior Lyndsey Medders scored a game-high 27 points in the team’s 79-76 overtime thriller versus fourth-seeded Nebraska in quarterfinal action Wednesday night. Iowa State always seems to be prepared come tournament time. All five of its Big 12 Championship games since 2005 have been decided by four points or less and come down to last-second shots. Medders hit a long-range three-pointer at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. ISU’s win over the Huskers marked the second time the Cyclones have upset a top four seed in the tournament in league history. Sixth-seeded Iowa State defeated third-seeded Colorado (58-56) in the quarterfinals on March 6, 2002.

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS

TEXAS A&M

No. Name 2006-07 Stats

10 A’Quonesia Franklin, G, 5-3, Jr. 10.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg

3 Takia Starks, G, 5-8, So. 14.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg

21 Morenike Atunrase, G/F, 5-10, Jr. 10.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg

24 Patrice Reado, F, 6-0, Jr. 7.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg

12 La Toya Micheaux, C, 6-3, So. 6.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg

IOWA STATE

No. Name 2006-07 Stats

14 Lyndsey Medders, G, 5-9, Sr. 12.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg

04 Alison Lacey, G, 6-0, Fr. 7.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg

31 Megan Ronhovde, G, 6-1, Sr. 7.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg

41 Toccara Ross, F, 5-11, Jr. 11.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg

05 Nicky Wieben, C, 6-4, So. 12.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

2006-07 Category TAMU ISU

Overall Record 24-5 24-7

Big 12 Record 13-3 10-6

Points Per Game 67.0 68.4

Scoring Margin +13.6 +8.2

Rebounds Per Game 38.1 39.3

Rebounding Margin +2.8 +3.5

Field Goal Percentage 42.2 42.1

Field Goal% Defense 37.7 37.3

Three-Point FG% 36.9 34.2

Free Throw Percentage 64.0 74.2

Turnovers Per Game 16.7 15.1

Assists Per Game 15.7 15.0

Blocks Per Game 4.9 3.2

Steals Per Game 10.5 6.1

SERIES HISTORY

Iowa State leads 12-2 in the all-time series versus Texas A&M. The Aggies have met the Cyclones on two previous occasions in Big 12 postseason tournament play. ISU leads 2-0 in Big 12 Championship games between the two schools, downing A&M (53-41) in the first round of the inaugural 1997 Tournament and routing the Aggies (88-68) in the quarterfinals of the 1998 Tournament. The Cyclones have won four of the last five meetings with the Aggies. Last year, A&M snapped a three-game losing skid in the series with a 64-53 victory in last year’s meeting in College Station. ISU still holds a 9-2 stronghold in games played against each other in the Big 12 era.

GOING FOR WIN NO. 25

Texas A&M will go for win No. 25 against the Cyclones on Thursday night. In the first two seasons of the Gary Blair era, the Aggies combined for 25 total victories with a 9-19 record in 2003-04 and 16-15 record in 2004-05. A victory would give the Aggies their second-most victories in school history behind the program’s 26-18 campaign in 1978-79. A&M has compiled 20-win seasons seven times in 1978-79 (26-18), 1974-75 (24-9), 1993-94 (23-8), 2005-06 (23-9), 2006-07 (23-5), 1994-95 (21-9) and 1995-96 (20-12). The Aggies advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1993-94. No matter what happens in postseason play, mathematically the odds are in favor of the Aggies recording their fewest losses in a single season since 1993-94 (23-8).

TOP GUNS

Two of the top point guards in the Big 12 will look to keep their team in position of a coveted spot in Saturday’s championship game. Iowa State’s Lyndsey Medders currently leads the Big 12 in assists per game (6.1), while Texas A&M’s A’Quonesia Franklin leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.97) and is fifth-best in assists (4.8). Medders (188) is 12 assists shy of 200 assists for the season, while Franklin ranks among the top five all-time assists leaders at Texas A&M with 443 career assists to date. Franklin is 12 shy of recording her third-straight season with 150+ assists. Both players, All-Big 12 First Team performers, have been deadly from long range this season as Franklin is hitting 34.4 percent of her shots from downtown and Medder is hitting on 34.5 percent. Franklin went 3-of-7 against Colorado and Medders went 5-of-7 versus Nebraska in both team’s quarterfinal games.

AGGIES IN POSTSEASON PLAY

With a 62-45 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night, Texas A&M improved to 3-10 all-time in Big 12 Championship games. Last season, the third-seeded Aggies moved on to the semifinals for the first time in league history and picked up only their second all-time win in postseason tournament play with a 73-64 victory over sixth-seeded Nebraska in quarterfinal action. A&M later lost a heartbreaker against second-seeded Baylor (53-52) in the semis. The Aggies have only reached the title game of a conference tournament once before in the final season of the old Southwest Conference in 1995-96. A&M made history by beating rival Texas in the semifinals (75-61) with a date waiting in the wings against Texas Tech in the finals. The Lady Raiders, ranked No. 7 nationally at the time, were in for a shock. Playing at Dallas’ Reunion Arena, the Aggies outlasted Tech, 72-68, to claim the program’s first-ever conference tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history with the league’s automatic bid. The 1995-96 squad will be forever linked as the final SWC Champions. In Big 12 Championship competition, A&M has only beaten the No. 6, 7 and 8 seeds all-time in the tournament. They have faced eight of the 11 schools in postseason play except for Kansas State, Kansas and Texas Tech. They have never appeared in the title tilt since the league’s formation in 1996-97.

TOURNAMENT AND BRACKET OVERVIEW

Being the No. 1 seed could work in the favor of the Aggies when looking at the past success of top seeds in the tournament. Seven No. 1 seeds in 10 overall Big 12 Championships have gone on to win the tournament title. Colorado won as a No. 3 seed in 1997, Iowa State a No. 3 seed in 2001 and OU a No. 6 seed in 2004. The inaugural championship game in 1997 was the first and only matchup played without a No. 1 seed remaining. Two Big 12 South teams have appeared in the Big 12 Championship game in four of the last five years with OU winning three of the last five tournaments. In regular season play, the Aggies posted a 4-2 record against teams seeded in their side of the bracket and went 5-0 against the top four seeds including a sweep of OU, sweep of Baylor and win over Nebraska. The five other teams in their bracket (Colorado, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Nebraska and Iowa State) combined for only 36 victories in league competition, while the other side (Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Kansas) combined for 47. In fact, two of A&M’s three losses this season came against Big 12 North foes in Kansas State (48-45) on Jan. 6 in the league opener and Iowa State (61-54) on Feb. 14. Tech and A&M are the only two Big 12 South schools in the top half of the 12-team bracket.

COLORADO RECAP (AP)

Sophomore Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) scored 16 points as top-seeded Texas A&M beat Colorado, 62-45, in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference Women’s Basketball Championship on March 7. Texas A&M posted its best defensive outing against a Big 12 opponent this season and advanced to the semifinals. The 13th-ranked Aggies, the league’s leader in defensive field goal percentage, held Colorado (13-17) to 26 percent shooting, the Buffaloes’ worst outing of the season. The Aggies had held opponents to fewer than 50 points in two league games this year, Kansas State (48) and Texas Tech (47). The Aggies’ win over Colorado was only their third over any opponent in the tournament’s 11-year history. Their first two wins in the event came in the first round in 1998 and 2006. Colorado trailed by 15 points late in the first half and 26-15 at halftime but used a 10-4 run to open the second half to pull within 30-25 with 14:41 left. Texas A&M quickly rebuilt the lead to 11 points at 41-30. A three-pointer by Colorado’s Hannah Kilkdum with 10:25 left cut the Aggies’ lead to 41-35, but Texas A&M answered with a 19-4 run over the next eight minutes.

COLORADO POSTGAME NOTES

For only the second time in the 11-year existence of the Big 12 Conference, Texas A&M advanced to the semifinals of the postseason league tournament.
A&M claimed its fourth-straight win over the Buffaloes in the all-time series
It was only the fifth all-time victory in the series as CU still holds a 10-5 advantage in 15 all-time meetings between the two schools
A&M recorded its 24th victory of the season which ties for second-most in the 33-year history of the program.
The ninth-ranked Aggie defense held Colorado to 15 first-half points and a season-low 29.0 percent shooting from the floor (12-of-46) to mark the third-lowest shooting percentage by an opponent this season. It was the worst shooting percentage by an A&M league opponent this year. The Aggies have held five opponents this year to below 29.0 percent shooting.
The Buffaloes were the sixth A&M opponent to be held under 20 first-half points this season and the first Big 12 team of the six to do so. It tied for the third-fewest points scored in the first half by an A&M opponent this season.
A&M previously held Delaware State to 11 first-half points on Dec. 20, McNeese State to 12 on Nov. 21 and Sam Houston State to 15 on Dec. 29.
The Aggies and Buffaloes combined for 41 first-half points (26-15) to mark the fewest combined points in a first half by both teams. The previous low for combined points in the first half of play was 46 at Texas (18-28) on Jan. 21 and at Oklahoma (20-26) on Jan. 27.
The 17-point margin of victory was the largest against a league opponent this season. It also marked the fewest points scored by a league opponent (45) this season.
A&M has now won in double figures in 11 contests this season and three times against conference opponents.
The Buffaloes committed 26 turnovers in the game, the second-most among Big 12 opponents this season. The Aggie defense has now forced 20-or-more opponent turnovers in 21-of-29 overall games played.
The Aggies have also scored 20-or-more points off opponent miscues in 20 games of the season with 23 points versus CU. For only the second time this season all 14 players on the roster entered the ballgame next to the McNeese State game on Nov. 21.
Three players scored in double figures including 13 points from junior Patrice Reado (Houston, Texas) which marked her eighth double-digit game of the season.
Sophomore Takia Starks turned in her 23rd double-digit game with a team-high 16 points. She has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight outings for the Aggies.
Junior A’Quonesia Franklin (Tyler, Texas) recorded her 15th double-digit game with 13 points. Franklin connected on a trio of three-pointers for the seventh time this season.

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. Tom Turbiville (play-by-play) and Amy Wright (color analyst) will call the action live from the Cox Convention Center on KZNE 1150 AM The Zone.