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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

An eventful holiday break

Football
Following weeks of buildup, LSU outmanned then-No. 17 A&M 41-24 in the Aggies’ first Cotton Bowl appearance since 2005. Junior running back Cyrus Gray ran for 100 yards for the seventh straight contest but an untimely knee injury forced senior inside linebacker Michael Hodges out of the game and became the catalyst for the Tigers’ ability to run over the Aggie defense for the remaining three quarters.
Still, A&M finished ranked No. 19 — the program’s first Top 25 finish since 1999 and a sign of the changing times in College Station.
Most notably, junior wide receiver Jeff Fuller announced his return to A&M after considering leaving for the NFL’s green pastures and defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter rejected an overture from another coaching opportunity. The triumvirate’s decision to remain together, along with the return of 18 of 22 Aggie starters, became the single biggest factor in A&M’s consensus national selection as an early top-15 or top-10 team for 2011.
Women’s swimming
Once again in the top-10, Head Coach Steve Bultman’s Aggies continued finetuning prior to the NCAA and Big 12 Championships.
No. 8 A&M breezed by North Texas at home on Jan. 7, then participated in a double dual meet in Dallas with No. 21 SMU and No. 2 Georgia. The Aggies defeated the Mustangs 203-82 behind sophomore distance swimmer Maureen McLaine and freshman Lily Ibañez, carrying her momentum over from an impressive showing against North Texas. The second-ranked Bulldogs dominated the second half of its meet with A&M, taking first in all but one of the final nine swims. Sarah Henry, another promising freshman and A&M’s top recruit from the past year, finished first in the 200- yard individual medley against SMU.
After winning the 100-yard freestyle against the Mean Green and the 50-free in the SMU-UGA double-dual, senior Maria Sommer was named Big 12 Swimmer of the Week for the first time. The Aggies will open the Rec Center Natatorium to LSU Jan. 22 for a dual meet.
Men’s swimming
Though not in action during the break, the No. 20 Aggies prepared for the upcoming stretch run which includes a home tilt with No. 22 LSU Jan. 22, the arch-rivalry match against No. 1 and defending national champion Texas in Austin Feb. 4 and the Big 12 Championships just before March.
Head Coach Jay Holmes’ team last saw action on Dec. 4 against rival SMU, with whom they swam a furious meet decided in the last event the previous season. In the newest meeting between the squads, the Aggies took first place in 10 of the 13 events to send the Mustangs back to Dallas with a 136-98 loss.
Women’s basketball
Seven games, seven wins for Head Coach Gary Blair and the Aggies — by an average margin of 35 points From Dec. 19 to Jan. 15, No. 5 A&M didn’t win a single game by less than 25 points; the team’s record now stands at 15-1.
The Aggies began the break with a 79-50 win against Rutgers on Dec. 19 in the Mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden in New York; senior forward Danielle Adams scored 24 points and pulled in 12 rebounds. Adams posted 20 points nine days later to lead a 74-45 beating of Drexel and 23 on Dec. 30 while spearheading a 96-52 win versus San Diego State. She finished the break averaging 21.4 points across the seven contests.
The logjam at the top of the Big 12 standings juxtaposes 3-0 squads No. 1 Baylor, No. 5 A&M, No. 14 Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The Aggies began conference play with a 28-point home win against Colorado, then hit the road for easy wins over Oklahoma State and Missouri. It was also announced that Blair had agreed to a contract extension that will keep him at A&M until 2015.
Men’s basketball
A&M punctuated its 7-0 record over the break with a 91- 89 overtime win over then-No. 12 Missouri, adding the Tigers to the line of Razorbacks, Seahawks, Cowboys — twice — Colonels and Sooners that the Aggies left in their wake while students were away.
On Dec. 21, A&M, then ranked No. 24 in response to wins against Washington and Arkansas during the preceding week, returned to the court with an 86-51 victory against the Wagner Seahawks.
After moving up to No. 18, the Aggies came from behind to beat McNeese State at home on New Year’s Eve.
The Aggies continued their ascent up the national hierarchy, to No. 16, and dispatched Nicholls State at home by a 66- 55 score four days later. A&M left Norman Jan. 8 with a dominant 69-51 win over Oklahoma. Rewarded with another boost in the polls, to No. 13, the team gave Oklahoma State a 71-48 pasting before welcoming the Tigers as its 13th consecutive victim; the 13-game win streak stands alone as the third longest in school history.
Sophomore forward Khris Middleton, who scored a careerhigh 31 points in the Aggies’ win over Arkansas, assumed the role of overtime hero again to hold off Missouri. Middleton scored 11 of A&M’s 13 overtime points — finishing with 28 overall — and officially cast his name into the All-Big 12 lot on a national stage.
Senior forward Nate Walkup averaged 11.6 points per game through the seven-game run, including back-to-back 16-point games against OSU and Missouri, and contributed 7.1 rebounds per contest. Walkup’s emergence as the Aggies’ “glue guy” and “dirty work” player bolstered the toughness of a team that already ranked near the top in the nation in defensive efficiency and rebounding margin. A&M has out-rebounded all 17 opponents this season.
The new national rankings released Monday listed 16-1 (3-0 Big 12) Texas A&M at No. 10, with the annual trip to Austin waiting Wednesday.
Indoor track & field
The indoor track and field schedule more or less began at the break’s start. The two-time defending national champion Texas A&M men and women began ranked No. 3 and No. 2, respectively.
Baylor and Oklahoma joined A&M as the representatives from the Big 12 in the Texas A&M Conference Challenge, ending Jan. 15. Three schools each also participated from the Southland, Sun Belt and Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Aggies won 11 events while the Big 12 ran away with the meet. The A&M men’s 4 x 400 relay team, whose 3:06.49 time earned it an automatic berth in the NCAA championships, highlighted the early-season competition’s results.
Senior Gerald Phiri improved his own career best in the 200-meter to 20.07, fifth in the all-time A&M record book. On the women’s side, senior Gabby Mayo won the 60 meter hurdles with an 8.27-second run. A&M now prepares to face LSU in College Station. The Tigers sit at No. 2 in the men’s rankings and No. 3 in the women’s.

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