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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M women’s Big 12 in-state rival games tough

Texas A&M women’s basketball Head Coach Gary Blair knows a thing or two about winning: In his previous 18 seasons before coming to College Station last spring, Blair compiled a 408-163 record, never had a losing season and led his 1997-98 Arkansas Razorbacks team to an NCAA Final Four appearance.
However, the Big 12 is considered one of the tougher conferences in women’s basketball, meaning Blair and the Aggies have their work cut out for them this season.
The Aggies’ top three challenges should come from in-state rivals that have a long history of winning: Texas Tech University, Baylor University and the University of Texas.
The Red Raiders are picked to finish fourth in conference this season by a coaches poll and, with a history of excellence including past products such as WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes, Texas Tech will be a tough match-up for A&M. Tech was third in the conference last season in scoring offense, averaging 68.6 points per game and averaged a conference fourth-best in rebounds at 38.9 per game.
“The style of play will be a lot more athletic this year and in years to come. The Big 12 is changing,” Blair said. “The Big 12 is changing … I think you were able to see Baylor last year, just how athletic, how powerful they were with smaller, quicker post players. I think that’s the way the league is going.”
A&M senior Mindy Garrison said the incoming freshmen have to adjust quickly to the competitive nature of the Big 12, especially for A&M to beat teams such as Baylor, which held the second-best scoring offense in the conference last season at 71.2 points per game.
“I think (the new arrivals) have definitely made a lot of improvements,” Garrison said. “Each and every one of them was here this entire summer. We got a chance to work out with them, and we worked really hard this summer to get them used to the way things are here.”
The Longhorns, picked by coaches to win the Big 12 Conference this season, survived a scare in College Station last season, winning 64-62. Then ranked No. 3 in the country, Texas narrowly escaped an upset in front of the largest paid-attendance in A&M women’s basketball history.
The Longhorns allowed only 58.2 points per game last season, good enough to top the Big 12.
A few weaker teams round out the Big 12, including Oklahoma State University and the University of Kansas. The Aggies split their two conference victories last season between these two programs, beating the Cowgirls 65-52 in College Station and downing the Jayhawks 69-63 in Lawrence, Kan.
Overall, Blair recognizes the power and quality of basketball surrounding him in his second campaign in the Big 12.
“If everybody gets the commitments they are supposed to be getting, it’s going to be unbelievable the next four years after that,” Blair said.

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