November 24, 2009

76 Classic poses tough challenge to A&M

Texas A&M men's basketball has gotten awfully familiar with Anaheim in recent years. This weekend's 76 Classic will be the third time the Aggie seniors have played in Anaheim, but it'll be the first time A&M isn't slated to play UCLA. That, however, could still happen as the Bruins are on the opposite side of the bracket in the tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center, just a few miles down the road from the Honda Center where the Aggies played the previous two trips.

Instead, A&M matches up with No. 19 Clemson in a game that has all the makings of an up-tempo classic with two highly athletic teams on display at 3:30 p.m. CT.

"They're really good I guess is what I can tell you. I was watching some film from last year and this year and they might be even better and a little more deeper than last year. It's really impressive," said A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. "Obviously Booker in the middle is quite a player and a tough matchup, not very tall but real strong, quick and fast and knows how to play. I've been impressed with them on film. It's about what I expected. They're shooting the ball really well right now and create a lot off their defense. To be honest with you it's a lot like preparing for Missouri, but I think Booker is the difference between maybe them and Missouri."

Clemson may be the immediate thought on A&M's mind with the Tigers up first on Thursday, but the entire field in the three-game guaranteed tournament is insanely strong. No. 8 West Virginia, No. 12 Butler, No. 19 UCLA and No. 22 Minnesota round out the ranked teams while A&M is receiving votes. Long Beach State was picked in the preseason to win the Big West conference while Portland is a legitimate threat to unseat Gonzaga in the West Coast conference. Oh yeah, and UCLA is there too in front of what is sure to be a pro-Bruin crowd.

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