by David Coleman
The Texas A&M basketball team has certainly played well enough to dance this March in the NCAA Tournament. They are just good enough to stay ahead of the middle of the Big 12, but not good enough to consistently beat the best of the Top 25. Head coach Mark Turgeon is in his fourth season at A&M and is hoping to lead the Aggies to a sixth straight NCAA appearance. Whether his team can make it back to the Sweet Sixteen is an open question. Right now, most of the projections show the Aggies as a sixth seed, but with a costly loss to Baylor on Feb. 26 and a grueling Big 12 Tournament upcoming, A&M could easily drop to as low as an eighth seed.
Record: 23-7, 10-6 in Big 12 as of
RPI: 30 (as of March 9th.)
Key wins: Dec. 11, 2010: 63-62 victory over No. 21 Washington - Toughest test of early season. Kept five game winning streak alive despite fending off furious comeback by Cougars.
Jan. 15, 2011: 91-89 overtime victory over No. 12 Missouri - Showdown of two Top 15 teams. A&M prevailed to stay perfect in Big 12 play and at home.
Key losses: Jan. 29, 2011 - 57-48 loss at Nebraska - Aggies may have been looking ahead to two key home games against Texas and Baylor. As it is, they dropped a game to a tough defensive team in the Huskers.
Jan. 31, 2011: 69-49 loss to No. 3 Texas - Second of two blowout losses to Longhorns. This one came on A&M's home court. The Aggies were down by 10 early in the first half and were never even close to competing.
Feb. 26, 2011: 58-51 loss at Baylor - The Aggies closed at halftime, but couldn't stop Baylor's interior presence. Second of two big losses to the Bears, who may be headed to the NIT.
Player to watch: Small forward Kris Middleton - The sophomore from South Carolina has been the leading scorer in 13 of A&M's 29 games this season. He's leading the Aggies in scoring (14.4 ppg), minutes played and free throw percentage (.818). He's also second on the team in rebounds per game with 5.2 and steals with 34 and is third on the team with 84 assists. Middleton has worn down a little in the tail end of the Big 12 season as teams focus more effort on stopping him, but his combination of outside shooting, ball skills and rebounding make him a big threat offensively and defensively.