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

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

The Battalion

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Faceoff with the Gators

Photo by Photo by Cristian Aguirre

Junior Anriel Howard averages 11.3 points and 33.7 minutes per game.

Looking to bounce back after Sunday’s loss to LSU on the road, No. 17 Texas A&M will face Florida on Thursday at Reed Arena for the Aggies’ annual BTHO Breast Cancer Game.
A&M’s record is 19-7 overall and 8-4 in conference play. Thursday’s game will begin the four game stretch to end the season before the SEC Tournament kicks off on Feb. 28.
According to A&M head coach Gary Blair, this four game stretch will be crucial to the Aggies positioning in both conference and national rankings.
Besides the slight sense of urgency noted that his team needs to win, Blair said they will take their schedule one game at a time.
“We’ve just got to take care of business,” Blair said. “For us to have a chance to get in the top four [in the SEC], I think we have to go 4-0, but to go 4-0 you’ve got to go 1-0 and that’s taking care of business against Florida.”
Despite the loss to LSU in a nail-biter on Sunday, Blair said he is optimistic about his team’s ability to bounce back, especially the younger players on the roster, including freshman guard Chennedy Carter.
“Chennedy is learning this is what it’s all about,” Blair said. “Remember how bad [TJ] Starks played at the beginning of the year? Well look how good he’s playing now. Look at our freshmen quarterbacks, look at all freshmen. We’re learning.”
Blair said despite Carter’s struggles against the Tigers, she has established herself as one of the top freshmen players in the country.

“So she’s had two bad ball games against LSU, so what? Let’s look at the other 26 that she’s had, and that’s why she’s in the top 30 for the awards at the end of the year,” Blair said. “People believe in her nationally. I just hope that one day I can fill these seats up and people can believe that they’re fixing to see the freshman of the year in the country.”

Senior center Khaalia Hillsman is averaging 15.4 points per game and leads the team with her experience and solid play in the paint. Junior guard Danni Williams, who has also played a major role in the Aggies’ success, is averaging 14.7 points per game and has scored at least 20 points in last three games. 

Blair said fans should come to Reed so they can experience first hand the special season these players are having.

“I want people to come out and see how good Khaalia Hillsman and Jas Lumpkin are playing in their senior seasons [and] what Danni Williams is doing for us,” Blair said. “I think we’ve been consistent now for 13 straight years. It’s time for our people to put up their Valentines after Wednesday and come out here and give us a little bit of love on Thursday.” 

Hillsman said in order to rebound from Sunday’s loss on the road, the team needs to have a short-term memory approach in order to bring their game against the Gators.

“In order to bounce back from LSU, we’ve got to focus on Florida,” Hillsman said. “If we dwell on LSU we’re not going to be able to beat Florida because we’re not going to be able to prepare for Florida.”

Thursday’s game will be A&M’s 12th annual BTHO Breast Cancer Game, a game that carries significant weight for both coaches and players.

The Aggies’ assistant coach, Bob Starkey, and sophomore guard Jasmine Williams have both been affected by breast cancer. Starkey’s wife is a breast cancer survivor and Williams lost her mother, Yolanda, to the disease. 

“Our Aggie basketball program and the 12th Man stand committed to do all that we can to create a venue where we promote early detection, raise money for treatment and cures and Beat The Hell Outta breast cancer,” Starkey said, according to

“Everyone in this world has been affected by cancer, myself included, and this is a great way for Aggies to support Aggies in this effort,” Williams said.

According to, students can help and donate in a number of ways. Official 2018 BTHO Breast Cancer shirts will be sold, a silent auction will be held and the Starkeys will donate $1.50 for every student that attends the game.

“We have a platform in athletics, and it’s our job to not just win games, but to use that platform to help the different charities and causes that are out there, not just here in Bryan-College Station, but across the country,” Blair said.

Tipoff against Florida is scheduled for Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Reed Arena.

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  • With four games left in the 2017-2018 regular season, No. 17 A&M hosts Florida.

    Photo by Photo by Cristian Aguirre
  • Senior Khaalia Hillsman has a team high 39 blocks per game and averages 15.1 points per game.

    Photo by Photo by Cristian Aguirre
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