High Hopes in Aggieland
For the first time in league history, Texas A&M has been picked by the coaches to win the Big 12 Conference men’s basketball championship. The Aggies, along with defending champion Kansas, top the poll, marking the second time in conference history that two squads tied for the top spot in the preseason poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.
A&M’s No. 1 ranking bests the program’s previous high of second in 2006-07. New head coach Billy Kennedy welcomes back 10 lettermen and three starters, led by preseason All-Big 12 pick Khris Middleton. The Aggies are coming off a 24-win season and their sixth straight NCAA appearance, one of 12 schools nationally that have accomplished the feat.
Aggies’ fans got their first glimpse of the nation’s No. 19 team (ESPN/USA Today coaches poll) in a recent scrimmage Junior Elston Turner led the way for the maroon team (55-49 winners), scoring 16 points on 6-11 shooting, while junior Naji Hibbert scored 15 and added three steals and junior Ray Turner poured in 14 on 7-9 shooting and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
The white team was led by senior David Loubeau, who went 9-12 from the floor and scored a game-high 21 points. The 2011 All-Big 12 pick also grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots. Middleton scored nine points and added six assists, while senior transfer Zach Kinsley turned in an eight-point effort.
“Overall there were more positives than negatives,” associate head coach Glynn Cyprien said. “I think our inside game was pretty good, David Loubeau played well, he’s a strong inside player for us. Ray (Turner) brought some real good energy. Jamal (Branch) really pushed the ball and I thought Dash (Harris) had good leadership.”
Tickets for the Championship Rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coach vs. Cancer at Madison Square Garden can be purchased by calling 866-448-7849 or at ticketmaster.com.