March 11, 2009

A&M hopes to keep Tech from playing spoiler

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - The first round of any conference tournament is always tough, especially when the matchup is between a team that isn't sure about its NCAA tournament standing and a team that season won't be extended further than the week without a four-game win streak and a tournament title. It compounds the problem when the meeting will be the third between the two teams in the same season.

Texas A&M finds itself in that position when it faces Texas Tech Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. The sixth-seeded Aggies (23-8, 9-7 Big 12) are in the tournament depending on who you talk to, but a first round upset at the hands of the 11th-seeded Red Raiders (13-18, 3-13) could push A&M back on the proverbial NCAA bubble.

But the Aggies aren't letting down their guard after winning six straight to end the regular season and thumping No. 14 Missouri on the last day of the season.

"It's not hard to stay focused because they haven't called our name (for the NCAA tournament)," said A&M senior Josh Carter. "We want to keep winning games. We want to beat Tech and get to Missouri. We just want to get to the teams that we lost to, so I think that will drive us a lot to keep playing hard and get to those teams."

The Aggies, however, are running into a Texas Tech team that is playing with nothing to lose. The Red Raiders upset then-No. 9 Kansas on Senior Day in Lubbock when Tech senior Alan Voskuil poured in 35 points and are getting high scoring outputs from John Roberson and Nick Okorie down the stretch.

Tech coach Pat Knight said that the win over Kansas gave his team confidence, but the fact that there isn't any pressure on his team to win is what could make them dangerous for the Aggies in the first round.

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