COLLEGE STATION - Texas A&M’s women’s basketball team announced its participation in the initial two years of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, starting with a match-up against Texas on December 21, 2014 at the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Texas A&M faces Oklahoma in Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena on December 20, 2015 in the second year of the event.
Two teams from each league will participate in the initial two years to assist in the promotion of the 2015 SEC Women’s Basketball Championship to be played in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and the 2016 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship scheduled in Oklahoma City.
“The SEC/Big 12 Challenge has a chance for some great games, and we want to be a part of it,” said Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair. “This is a win-win for all four schools, and will generate interest in the host cities for the conference tournament. Games like these are good for the sport of women’s basketball.”
“The SEC is excited about the formation of the SEC/Big12 Challenge and partnering with the Big 12 to create a unique event for women’s basketball. The Challenge will be a premiere showcase event promoting several teams from two of the top women’s basketball conferences in the nation,” said Leslie Claybrook, SEC assistant commissioner. “This will be an exciting event for our institutions, student-athletes and fans.”
"The Challenge against the SEC will provide exciting match-ups in these next two seasons that enhances both leagues’ non-conference slate," said Dru Hancock, Big 12 senior associate commissioner. “In addition, it provides a unique opportunity to promote conference championships in the venues in which they will be played. We’re hopeful that this initial challenge will include more teams in the future.”
The Aggies have faced Texas in every year of the program’s history, except for the 2012-13 season. A&M has won 13 of its last 17 match-ups against Texas, dating back to 2005-06. However, the Longhorns earned a 78-63 victory in the squads’ last meeting, Nov. 29, 2013 in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Both coaches in the game, Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair and Texas head coach Karen Aston, have strong connections to Arkansas. Blair was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in February, and Aston, a native of Benton, Arkansas, played collegiate basketball in the state, at Ouachita Baptist and UALR.
Texas A&M has won seven of their last eight match-ups against Oklahoma, dating back to 2009-10. The Aggies currently have two student-athletes from the Oklahoma City-area, Sophomore Taylor Cooper (Shawnee) and Junior Courtney Walker (Edmond). A&M won their last match-up against Oklahoma 79-66 in the 2012 Big 12 Tournament.
Texas A&M has previously played two games in the home of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, clinching their first trip to the Elite Eight in the 2008 NCAA Oklahoma City Regional in what was then called the Ford Center.
In addition to the Aggies’ game against Texas, Oklahoma squares off against Arkansas on December 21, 2014, at the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock in the first year of the event. The opponents will be reversed for the 2015-16 season in Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Times, ticket and television information for the 2014 SEC/Big 12 Challenge will be released as it becomes available.
Texas A&M vs. Texas
December 21, 2014
Verizon Arena – North Little Rock, Ark.
Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
December 20, 2015
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Okla.