COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - The preseason No. 12 nationally ranked Texas A&M women's basketball team hosts Arkansas-Fort Smith in an exhibition game on Thursday at 7 p.m. (CT) at Reed Arena.
The Aggies, who return eight letterwinners from last year's NCAA Sweet 16 squad, were picked to finish fifth in the Southeastern Conference Preseason Poll in their first season in the league. They are led by 2012 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and SEC Preseason First-Team pick junior Kelsey Bone (Houston, Texas), who is A&M's top returning scorer, averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season. Sophomore Alexia Standish (Colleyville, Texas) is coming off a standout rookie season that earned her a spot on the Big 12 All-Freshman team.
A&M also boasts the second-best recruiting class nationally, and highest rated in school history, which consists of 5-foot-9 guard Chelsea Jennings (Fort Worth, Texas), 5-foot-6 guard Jordan Jones (DeSoto, Texas), 5-foot-7 guard Curtyce Knox (Humble, Texas), 5-foot-11 guard Peyton Little (Abilene, Texas), 5-foot-8 guard Courtney Walker (Edmond, Okla.) and 6-foot-1 forward Courtney Williams (Houston, Texas).
“We look forward to playing the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith,” said head coach Gary Blair, who begins his 10th season with the Aggies. “They’re a former national champion at the junior college level and have been a Division II program for three years. They have a veteran coach in Louis Whorton, who is a Hall-of-Famer in the state of Arkansas and has done an excellent job over the year. He is also a participant in our Special Olympics golf tournament every year.
“We are coming off of a 24-11 season and seventh-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Our expectations and outlook look very good. We have the second-ranked recruiting class in the country that we want to display for our fans on Thursday. We will start one of those talented freshmen in 5-foot-8 guard Courtney Walker. All of our freshmen will play in this ballgame.
“We scrimmaged at Houston Saturday and got a lot out of that, but this is more of a game-like dress rehearsal to get us ready to play three top-10 teams to start the season. We will open the regular season at No. 9 Louisville in front of a packed house, and then we’ll play No. 8 Penn State in the home opener.
“Our home schedule will climax in our game against seven-time national champion No. 2 Connecticut on ESPN from Reed Arena on Nov. 18. We want our fans to come out and see us tomorrow, and to buy season tickets for the remaining schedule.”
The Lady Lions are picked to win the Heartland Conference and are receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Division II Preseason Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. UAFS returns just one starter from a 2012 team that was the Heartland Conference Tournament runner-up and posted a 19-9 record. Of the 13 players on the Lady Lions’ roster, seven are freshmen. Senior forward Katie BenAmor is the only returning starter, and averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game a year ago.
Tickets for the exhibition game are priced at $15 for courtside seating, $13 for sideline, $9 for baseline, $7 for general admission and $4 for youth. They can be purchased by visiting tickets.12thmanfoundation.com or by calling 1-888-99-AGGIE and are also available at the door on Thursday, beginning one hour before tip.
Play-by-play announcer Mike Wright will call the action live from Reed Arena on WTAW 1620 AM.
Free live statistics will be available on AggieAthletics.com. iPad users can also watch the game through the new Texas A&M Athletics app. Visit the iTunes store for more information.
Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Luncheon, Nov. 1, 11:30 a.m.
Fans are invited to attend the first Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Luncheon of the 2012-13 season Thursday, Nov. 1, at 11:30 a.m. in the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball. Texas A&M Vice President for Marketing & Communications Jason Cook will speak at the luncheon on A&M’s branding campaign for the SEC. Coach Bob Starkey will also speak, along with SEC Preseason First-Team pick Kelsey Bone and senior captain Adrienne Pratcher, while Blair will give insight on the outlook and expectations of the team. There will be door prizes, and the highlight of the event will be when the film from the Aggies’ August 2012 trip to Italy is shown. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15.
A&M officially commences the 2012-13 season at No. 9 Louisville on Friday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. CST in the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. To learn more about the Texas A&M women’s basketball team, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieWBB on Twitter.