Kansas City, MO – The ninth-seeded Texas A&M Aggies escaped round matchup and they now have the unenviable task of taking on seeded Kansas Jayhawks this afternoon in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Big 12 Conference Tournament.
Texas A&M pulled off a minor upset of eighth-seeded Oklahoma on Wednesday to keep its season alive. The triumph marked just the second time the Aggies have been victorious in 11 games since Feb. 1, as they improved their overall record to 14-17.
As the Big 12's regular-season champion, Kansas enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed for the ninth time in the 16-year history of the league, including eight straight. The Jayhawks are winners of eight in a row, which is just their second-longest winning streak of the year, catapulting them to a 26-5 overall record and a 16-2 mark in one of the country's most competitive conferences. Under head coach Bill Self, KU has an incredible conference tournament record of 17-3.
Kansas has a commanding 19-1 advantage in the all-time series with Texas A&M, and the Aggies' lone victory came back in 2007.
Texas A&M was able to hang on against Oklahoma in the first round thanks in part to key three-pointers in the final four minutes from Dash Harris and Khris Middleton. The Aggies struggled shooting the ball at just 38.2 percent from the field, but they held Oklahoma to 39.1 percent shooting from the floor, and they hit 14 consecutive free-throws in the second half to help put the game away. Middleton and David Loubeau paced the squad with 15 points apiece, with the latter also grabbing nine rebounds. On the season, Texas A&M has a poor offense, scoring only 60.9 ppg. Elston Turner has been its most productive playmaker, putting up 14 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 2.3 apg, while Middleton (12.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Loubeau (11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) have also been effective. One saving grace for the Aggies has been their defense, which surrenders just 61.1 ppg.
There's little debate that Kansas is one of most well-rounded teams in not only the Big 12, but the nation as well. It can score with just about anyone, ranking second in the league in scoring (74.9 ppg) and field goal percentage (.484), but it also plays the best defense in the conference, yielding a mere 61.2 ppg on just 38.2 percent field goal efficiency. On top of that, the Jayhawks are also the league's best squad on the glass, boasting a rebounding margin of +6.3. They are led by the Big 12 Player of the Year in Thomas Robinson, who is the only one in the conference to average a double-double with 18.0 ppg and 11.9 rpg -- the latter ranking second-best in the nation. Robinson has posted 13 double-doubles in 18 conference games, including four straight. Tyshawn Taylor is a great outside complement to Robinson, putting up big numbers across the stat sheet with 17.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, and 1.2 spg while compiling great percentages from the floor (.489) and three-point range (.431). Center Jeff Withey has been rock-solid in the middle, posting 9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, and a conference-best 3.2 bpg.