Tuesday, December 05, 2006

ATH: Basketball!

Key Game Notes
A&M is ranked No. 6 in both the AP and the coaches’ poll this week, the highest ranking in school history. Before this season, the highest A&M had been ranked was No. 8 in the 1959-60 season. Also before this year, A&M had not appeared in the rankings since the 1980-81 season.
A&M has won 14 straight regular-season games dating back to last year, the third-longest streak in the nation. The Aggies’ last regular-season loss was to Texas in Austin on Feb. 4, 2006 (83-70).
A&M is coming off a 74-62 win against Pacific on Saturday. The Tigers are co-favorites to win their fourth straight Big West Conference title.
The Aggies are 40-5 at home under Billy Gillispie. A&M’s 39 regular-season homecourt wins in the last three years are tied for the most in the nation in that span (New Mexico also has won 38).
A&M is playing its first road game of the season. LSU is 3-1 at home this season.
The last time A&M played a ranked non-conference team in the regular season was in 1996-97, when the Aggies played host to Clemson and lost, 76-64.
The last time A&M beat a ranked non-conference opponent in the regular season was in 1978-79, when the Aggies beat Kentucky, 73-69, at Rupp Arena.

About LSU
The Tigers are in their 10th season under Coach John Brady, who has won 171 games at LSU.
LSU went 27-9 last year and advanced to the NCAA Final Four. The Tigers won the Southeastern Conference title with a 14-2 mark.
The Tigers were ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP poll. They have won two straight since their only loss of the season against Wichita State (57-53) at home.
The Tigers are led by junior forward Glen Davis (6’9”, 295 lbs.), who is averaging 18.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Davis was the 2006 SEC Player of the Year.
In addition to Davis, Tasmin Mitchell (13.6), Darnell Lazare (12.2) and Garrett Temple (12.0) also average in double figures in scoring.
LSU’s wins have come at home against Nicholls State (96-42), Louisiana-Monroe (88-57) and McNeese State (91-57), and on the road against Tulane (74-67).

LSU eliminated A&M from the 2006 NCAA Tournament with a dramatic 58-57 victory in the second round in Jacksonville, Fla. The Tigers’ Darrell Mitchell nailed a 22-foot three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left the secure the win and keep LSU on the road to the Final Four.
A win would hand Gillispie his 50th victory at A&M (3rd season) and his 80th as a head coach (5th year).
Pacific senior forward Ben Pemberton is from Hawkins, Texas and attended Tyler Junior College.

Series Notes
LSU leads the series, 13-9, with a 9-1 mark in Baton Rouge and a 2-0 record at the Maravich Center.
The teams last met in the regular season at the 2002 Space City Hoops Classic in Houston, with A&M hanging on for a 79-77 victory. It was the first basketball game played at Reliant Stadium, site of the 2011 NCAA Final Four.
A&M’s last visit to Baton Rouge came in 1980-81.

Last Time They Met
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP, March 18, 2006)- Darrel Mitchell’s long 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds capped a wild finish and gave fourth-seeded LSU a 58-57 victory over No. 12 seed Texas A&M in the second round of the Atlanta Regional. Mitchell -- LSU’s lone senior starter -- saved the day after A&M snapped a 55-55 tie with Acie Law’s jumper with 19.3 seconds left. LSU led 53-46 lead with 3:31 to go, but A&M, in the tournament for the first time since 1987, wasn’t ready to go home. The Aggies wiped out the seven-point deficit over the next 91 seconds, then went ahead 55-53 on Joseph Jones’ jump hook in the lane. Davis, who finished with 21 points, powered his way to the basket for a layup that tied it for the last time. Mitchell was 1-for-7 from behind the 3-point line, and LSU was 1-for-11 as a team, before he launched the 22-footer in desperation. Law led the Aggies with 15 points and Antanas Kavaliauskas added 12. Mitchell joined Davis in double figures for LSU with 16. LSU got off to a 15-3 lead, but A&M rallied with a 17-0 run as Dominique Kirk made a pair of 3-pointers and Law scoring six to lead the surge. It was 29-29 at the half.

Who’s Hot?
Junior Joseph Jones and senior Acie Law IV are on the preseason Wooden and Naismith award watch lists, which each consist of the top 50 players in the country. Law also has been nominated for the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard. Law and Jones were co-MVPs of the Shelby Metcalf Classic.
Law has made 66.1 percent from the field in the last six games. He’s made an impressive .71.4 percent from three-point range (10-of-14) and has made six straight over the last four contests.
Jones scored a season-high 24 points against Pacific, making 9-of-11 from the field (including 2-of-3 three-pointers), and added 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Jones is making 65.5 percent from the field, second best in the Big 12 and 20th nationally. He also has made eight straight free throws.
Senior Antanas Kavaliauskas scored a career-high 23 points against Pacific, making 9-of-15 from the field (including a three-pointer). He also added a career-best seven assists (0 turnovers).
Sophomore Josh Carter has made 8-of-13 from three-point range (.615) in the last three games. He scored a career-high 26 points against Idaho State, tying the school record for three-pointers with eight. Carter leads the Big 12 in assist/turnover ratio (22-to-5).
Junior Dominique Kirk, has started in all 69 games in his A&M career, scored a season-high 13 points against Pacific and tied his career best with eight assists (1 turnover).

Angles & Storylines
A&M climbed to 6th in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ poll and AP poll, the highest ranking in school history. The Aggies have been ranked five straight week. The school record for consecutive weeks in the national polls is eight, first set in 1959-60 and tied in 1978-79. Before this year, A&M’s last previous top-10 ranking was on Jan. 3, 1979, when it was ranked 10th by The AP.
The Aggies lead the nation in scoring defense (48.9) and defensive field goal percentage (.307).
A&M ranks fourth nationally in field goal percentage (.539), leads the nation in assists (22.9) and ranks fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.62).
A&M is the only team to rank among the top 10 nationally in both defensive and offensive field goal percentage.
A&M has won 14 straight regular-season games since an 83-70 loss at Texas last season, the third longest streak in the country. A&M has won 12 straight home games since an 83-73 loss to Kansas last season.
A&M has won 29 straight regular-season non-conference home games. The last loss was against A&M-Corpus Christi (82-80) early in the 2003-04 season
A&M is 40-5 at Reed Arena under Billy Gillispie, with a 26-1 mark against non-conference foes (including a 1-1 record in the 2005 postseason NIT). Gillipsie is 56-6 in home games in his last four seasons as a head coach.
A&M was picked to finish second in the Big 12 this season in a preseason poll of league coaches. The highest previous preseason poll position for the Aggies was seventh last year.
A&M was ranked 13th in both the AP and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ preseason polls. The last time A&M was ranked in the preseason was in 1980-81, when the Aggies were 15th in the AP and 12th in the UPI Coaches’ poll. The only other time A&M was ranked in the preseason was in 1979-80, when it was 14th (AP) and 11th (coaches).
Prior to this season, A&M’s last ranking by the AP came on Dec. 30, 1980, when the Aggies were 11th.
Acie Law and Marlon Pompey are the only remaining players who were on the roster before Billy Gillispie arrived.
Of the 21 players on the A&M roster, 19 are from the state of Texas (including 11-of-13 scholarship players), a school record. The year before Gillispie arrived, A&M had only four Texas players, including a pair of walk-ons. uA&M plays a record 19 regular-season home games this season.
A&M broke ground on Nov. 17 on a $16-20 million, 60,000-square-foot addition to Reed Arena that will include two new practice gyms, locker rooms, film and meeting rooms, a weight room, training and medical facilities, and offices. The project is scheduled to be completed early in 2008.
A&M returns its top six scorers, four starters and 12 lettermen from last year’s team that finished 22-9 overall and placed fourth in the Big 12 with a 10-6 mark. The Aggies made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1987 and beat Syracuse in the first round, A&M’s first NCAA win since 1980. LSU eliminated the Aggies in the second round, making a long-range three-pointer with three seconds remaining for a 58-57 victory.

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