March 25, 2008

A look back at a new era in Aggie basketball

The Texas A&M men's basketball program has gone through a number of ups and downs this season. After a Sweet 16 run for the first time in 27 years, the Aggies went through a ton of changes during the offseason. Leaving the program was All-American Acie Law and big time contributors Antanas Kavaliauskas and Marlon Pompey. What wasn't known before the 2006-07 season ended was that head coach Billy Gillispie would eventually leave for Kentucky.

Despite seeing three seniors leave for professional basketball (Law in the NBA, Kavaliauskas and Pompey in Europe) and the architect head coach that lifted A&M out of the doldrums of college basketball obscurity take off for Kentucky, the Aggies seemed to have a lot in their favor in 2007-08. Hopes skyrocketed upward after A&M blitzed through the Preseason NIT Tip-off with blowout wins over Washington and Ohio State in New York City. A road loss to Arizona, even after coughing up a 20-point first half lead wasn't the end of the world being the first true road game for A&M during the season. A blitzkrieg over lesser opponents put the Aggies 14-1 heading into the Big 12 conference.

That's when things got interesting as the Aggies hit a rollercoaster of wins, losses, frustrations and emotions that seemed to hit mountains and wide-open valleys over the course of three months. A&M started out 1-3 in the Big 12after climbing into the top 10 in both national rankings. The three-game losing skid to Texas Tech, Kansas State and Baylor marked the first such streak in two seasons in College Station.

A&M rebounded with a win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater that sparked a five-game winning streak with three of those wins away from Reed Arena. Over the last seven games, A&M had trouble finding a rhythm and a steady lineup as they went just 2-5 over that stretch.

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