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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

A&M entering NCAA Tournament as No. 2 seed

Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

The Aggies head into the NCAA Tournament with the No. 2 seed and will take on Troy on March 22 in Austin.

After dropping out of the SEC Tournament with a loss to then-No. 16 Georgia, Texas A&M women’s basketball will enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed of the Mercado Region, the league announced during the Selection Show on Monday.
The Aggies are set to face No. 15 Troy, who won the Sun Belt Conference Championship on March 8 with a 73-65 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. The two teams will meet for the first time in program history at 5 p.m. on March 22 in at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
The Trojans are on an 11-game win streak with a 22-5 overall record.
Despite A&M’s loss to Georgia in the semifinals of the conference tournament, the Aggies were expected to be the No. 1 seed heading into the NCAA Tournament after finishing the regular season with a No. 4 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll.
Though they missed out on a top spot, senior center Ciera Johnson said the Aggies aren’t too disappointed following Monday’s Selection Show.
“We’re not upset with this,” Johnson said. “I mean yeah, we wanted to be No. 1, but hey, we came up short against Georgia. When you don’t handle business, that’s what happens. You have to reap the consequences of that.”
A&M coach Gary Blair said the results of Monday’s Selection Show don’t matter; instead, he’s ready to show off his team on the national stage, regardless of seeding.
“I don’t mind,” Blair said. “I love to go out and show people what this team can do and what this coaching staff and I can do to put together a game plan. That’s what I’m really proud of.”
Senior guard Kayla Wells said A&M had moved on from its loss and is now taking the lessons learned in stride.
“That was a wake-up call that we needed,” Wells said. “I’d rather it happen in the SEC Tournament than in March Madness where we’d be going home for good.
The Aggies are heading into the NCAA Tournament with a more serious mentality, knowing a single loss will end their season, Johnson said.
“We weren’t locked in [against Georgia],” Johnson said. “They wanted it more than we did and it showed … Now, if somebody wants it more, we’re going home and we’re done for the year.”
While missing out on the No. 1 seed gives the Aggies something to prove next week, Johnson said the rankings don’t matter at the end of the day.
“We can use it as extra motivation, but we’re not worried about the seeding. It is what it is,” Johnson said. “We have to go out there and play. If we don’t come out ready to play against Troy, we can lose. It wouldn’t matter if we were a 1-seed.”
Ahead of Monday’s matchup, Blair said his team is focusing on getting off to a faster start.
“You go for the throat early. You don’t sit there and just blend in,” Blair said. “We have been a slow starting team about the whole last month and a half. We cannot afford a slow starting team.”
After the loss to Georgia that ended the Aggies’ SEC Tournament run, Blair said he is not underestimating Troy.
“Every game is a championship, and I guarantee you, Troy will be built up just like they’re coming from Athens with a big machine and everything,” Blair said. “I will give Troy so much respect, and that’s all we’re going to worry about.”
The Aggies were the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament, after finishing as SEC regular season champions with a 22-1 overall record, including a 9-0 record against conference opponents.
This year, Blair said the 64 teams in the NCAA Tournament are playing for much more than just the national title.
“Whoever wins this tournament is the team that’s been able to adjust to protocol, been able to adjust to COVID[-19], been able to adjust to all the emotional things these 18- to 22-year-olds have had to go through,” Blair said. “We have done it as well as anybody, but we have not looked for excuses or opt-outs or this injury or that injury — we’ve said let’s bring it on.”

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