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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies ready to defend Big 12 title

A quartet of All-Big 12 selections will look to defend Texas A&M’s Big 12 title Friday in Oklahoma City.
The No. 9 Aggies were awarded the fourth seed to the tournament at the Cox Center and will have a first-round bye on Thursday.
The Aggies await the winner of the first round matchup between fifth-seeded Kansas State and the twelve-seed, Colorado. The Wildcats and Buffaloes rank 10th and 11th in the Big 12 in scoring.
Several Aggies received conference accolades Monday. Senior guard Danielle Gant was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, ranking second in the conference in steals with 2.4 a game.
A&M senior guard Takia Starks and Gant were both selected to the All-Big 12 First Team. Starks led the Aggies in scoring and 3-pointers.
“The rest of the coaches appreciate a job well done over the long haul,” said A&M Head Coach Gary Blair. “That’s what Gant and Starks have done.”
Junior guard Tanisha Smith earned the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year award. The junior averaged 9.6 points per game in 2008-2009 and has developed into a weapon for the Aggies’ attack.
“She needs to come in to tournament play realizing that sometimes it’s the third option that could be the star of everything,” Blair said. “She might end up being our first and second option. Starks is going to draw the other team’s best defender. There’s usually not two defensive stoppers so if we have to go to [Smith] more to create offense for others, we’ll do it.”
Freshman guard Sydney Carter was named to the Big 12 All-Freshmen team. Carter averaged 4.8 points per game off the bench.
A&M will look to rebound from a loss at Baylor this past Saturday. With the chance to lock up the second seed in the tournament, the loss dropped the Aggies to the fourth seed. Blair said he was not disappointed with his team’s performance in the 64-60 defeat and credited Baylor for its play.
“I want our kids to realize we’re playing the best basketball we’ve played all year even if we lost the game,” Blair said. “Baylor won that game, we didn’t lose it. This team is playing very good basketball right now.”
For the second consecutive year, the Aggies will take the fourth seed and match up with the conference champion in the semifinals. This year, A&M could match up with No. 3 Oklahoma and three-time Big 12 player of the year Courtney Paris, but Blair said his team will not be looking ahead.
“We’re not dominant enough to look past anybody,” Blair said. “We could drop to a four (seed) if we lose in the first round. That other side looks a little bit easier than our side but that’s part of it. Last year you could have said the same.”

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