Local basketball fans were treated to a rare weekend double-victory by the Texas A&M men’s and women’s teams.
The men knocked off Kansas State 65-53 on Saturday, snapping a three-game losing streak and ending the Wildcats’ five-game winning streak. The women followed on Sunday with a 73-71 victory over 15th-ranked Kentucky, giving the women a five-game winning streak.
Both victories were pretty significant.
The men needed a victory for self-confidence and to give a reason for the fans to keep going back to Reed Arena. A&M probably isn’t going to a postseason tournament other than the Southeastern Conference tournament, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have big victories. If A&M had lost to Kansas State, it would have been the fifth straight at home, dropping the Aggies to 5-6 at Reed Arena. It’s always vital to protect the home court and reward the fans. K-State leads the series 18-9, but A&M is 8-3 at home.
K-State, riding a five-game winning streak that had it tied with Kansas for the Big 12 lead, is an NCAA tournament team with potential to reach the Sweet 16. A&M was the better team Saturday. Now the challenge for the Aggies is to build on the great effort.
Many wondered if the A&M women would even make the NCAA tournament after a horrendous home loss to Lamar two months ago. Now they are in position to be a top four seed with a strong finish.
The Aggies have a chance to stretch that winning streak to nine before playing sixth-ranked Mississippi State on Feb. 17 at home, but a team that lost to Lamar can’t overlook anyone.
The last time the A&M teams swept a meaningful home weekend series was a year ago. The men defeated South Carolina 83-60 on Feb. 3, and the next day the women downed Auburn 78-59.
The A&M teams have played back-to-back home weekend games 11 times since joining the SEC in 2013. The Aggies have won both games four times. In 2017, the men defeated Georgia 63-62 on Jan. 21, and the next day the women beat LSU 54-52. In 2016, the men defeated Arkansas 92-69 on Jan. 2, and the next day the women beat Georgia 73-62. In 2015, the men defeated Vanderbilt 69-59 on Jan. 31, and the next day the women defeated Auburn 78-45.
A&M will have one more chance for a doubleheader weekend sweep this year. The men play Vanderbilt on March 2 followed by the women playing Arkansas in their regular-season finale.
The A&M women (16-4, 5-2) climbed four spots to 20th in this week’s Associated Press poll. That’s three spots below its highest ranking of the season, when A&M was 17th at 4-1 before losing to Lamar.
A&M is one of four SEC teams in the rankings, led by sixth-ranked Mississippi State (19-1, 7-0). South Carolina (13-5, 5-1) is 16th, and Kentucky (17-4, 3-2) is a spot ahead of the Aggies.
Baylor (17-1) took over the top spot this week after Notre Dame lost at unranked North Carolina on Sunday. Baylor last was ranked atop the poll in 2013 for the final 11 weeks of the season.
A&M has steadily been climbing in the NCAA women’s RPI rankings, which the NCAA tournament selection committee will use in picking the 64-team field. A&M is 18th with the only SEC team ranked higher being Mississippi State at ninth.
The Aggies are a No. 5 seed in this week’s Bracketology with ESPN.com’s Charlie Crème. His other No. 5 seeds are Arizona State, Kentucky and Gonzaga. The No. 4 seeds, which would be in line to host first- and second-round games, are South Carolina, Maryland, Iowa State and Rutgers. The No. 6 seeds are Drake, Utah, Florida State and Miami (Fla.).
Crème has A&M in the Chicago Regional with Baylor the top seed followed by North Carolina State, Marquette and Rutgers. The other regionals are Albany, New York (Connecticut is the top seed), Greensboro, North Carolina (Notre Dame) and Portland, Oregon (Louisville).
Crème has Tennessee and Arkansas among his last four teams in the field. He has Auburn and LSU among his next-to-last four teams out.
On Saturday, the Tennessee men (18-1, 6-0) will be the first top-ranked team to play at Reed Arena since Kentucky on Jan. 10, 2015. The Wildcats escaped that time with a 70-64 victory in double overtime.
Tennessee, which climbed to No. 1 last week, was last atop the poll in February 2008.
The Aggies will warm up for the Vols by playing 19th-ranked LSU (16-3, 6-0) on Wednesday. LSU is riding a nine-game winning streak and is tied with Tennessee atop the SEC. The SEC’s other ranked teams are seventh-ranked Kentucky (16-3, 5-1) and 22nd-ranked Mississippi State (15-4, 3-3). Falling out of the poll were Auburn (13-6, 2-4), which had been 16th, and Ole Miss (14-5, 4-2), which was 20th.
The last time the A&M women played a top-ranked team at home was Jan. 30, 2011, when Baylor grabbed a 63-60 victory.
The A&M women’s 13th Annual Beat The Hell Out Of Cancer Game will be Feb. 14 against LSU at 6:30 p.m.
A&M players will wear a pink-and-black jersey with the back of the jersey featuring the name of a person close to the player who has fought cancer.
The game will bring awareness to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the Pink Alliance, a local nonprofit in the Brazos Valley which serves as an advocate for breast cancer support.
BTHO Breast Cancer T-Shirts will be $10. There also will be a silent auction at the game. A&M assistant coach Bob Starkey and his wife Sherie, a breast cancer survivor, will donate $2 for each student who attends the game.
Breast cancer survivors and patients currently undergoing treatment can claim a complimentary ticket to the game and participate in a halftime recognition. Those interested in participating in the halftime ceremony should visit 12thman.com/BTHObc and complete the contact information form by Feb. 11.
Fans wearing pink to the game can purchase tickets for $3.
The A&M men are ranked 106th in the NCAA NET Rankings, which the NCAA tournament selection committee will use in determining the 68-team field. The only SEC team behind Aggies is No. 111 South Carolina (10-9, 5-1). Tennessee is No. 5 followed by No. 8 Kentucky, No. 15 LSU, No. 26 Auburn, No. 27 Mississippi State, No. 35 Ole Miss, No. 36 Florida (11-8, 3-3), No. 44 Alabama (12-7, 3-3), No. 69 Arkansas (11-8, 2-4), No. 82 Missouri (10-8, 1-5), No. 86 Georgia (10-9, 1-5) and No. 94 Vanderbilt (9-10, 0-6).