It’s been more than two decades since Texas A&M has won a conference title, and the 11th-ranked Aggies are anxious to put an end to that drought.
Brimming with confidence, Texas A&M looks to continue its impressive start Saturday when it opens Big 12 play against Colorado at Reed Arena.
The Aggies (14-1) were picked to finish third in the Big 12 before this season began, and they rolled through the non-conference portion of their schedule. Texas A&M, which finished second in the Big 12 with a 13-3 record last season, is off to its best start since the 1921-22 team went 16-1.
The Aggies defeated LSU 79-53 in their final non-conference game last Saturday, and have won seven straight contests by an average of 29.5 points since suffering their only setback, a 78-67 loss at Arizona on Dec. 2.
“We still have areas to improve in, but we’re very confident,” said Texas A&M guard Donald Sloan, who had 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting against the Tigers. “We feel real good about going into conference. We have some little things we need to tweak, but overall I think we’re ready.”
The Aggies have never won the Big 12 title, and haven’t won a conference title since winning the Southwest Conference in 1986.
“I know we’re looking forward to the league. I wish it started tonight,” first-year Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said after beating LSU. “It seems really late this year. We’re definitely ready.”
By beating Kansas State 69-65 in their conference opener last season, the Aggies snapped an 11-game losing streak in league openers. Colorado, meanwhile, has lost 10 straight conference openers since beating Nebraska in 1997.
Texas A&M beat the Buffaloes 87-69 in Boulder in their only meeting last season, and have won four straight over them.
Junior guard Josh Carter is averaging a team-high 13.7 points, and had 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting - including 5-of-7 from 3-point range - in last season’s win over Colorado.
Senior forward Joseph Jones is averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, and had 18 points and a career-high 15 boards against the Buffaloes last season.
The Aggies have won 14 straight home games dating to last season, including 12 at Reed Arena this season. They are 46-3 at home since 2005-06, and went 7-1 in conference games there last season.
Colorado (8-6) has lost 13 straight road conference games, and was outscored by an average of 16.7 points in its eight Big 12 road games in 2006-07.
The Buffaloes finished last in the Big 12 with a 3-13 record last season, and were picked to finish last again this season. They also have a first-year coach in Jeff Bzdelik.
Colorado lost to Tulsa 81-68 on Monday in its final non-conference game.
“We have a long conference schedule ahead of us, the toughest conference in the country right now, so we need to pick up our heads and get ready for the Big 12,” said senior guard Richard Roby, who scored 27 points against the Golden Hurricane.
Roby is averaging 22.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in his last five games, and is averaging 16.5 points in four career games against the Aggies. He had 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting against Texas A&M last season, as the Buffaloes shot just 37.7 percent in that game.
The Aggies are second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (56.8 points per game) and field-goal percent defense (35.3 percent), and their last six opponents are averaging 48.3 points on 31.3 percent shooting.
This will be Colorado’s first game of the season against a ranked opponent after going 1-3 against Top 25 teams in 2006-07. The Buffaloes have lost 26 straight road games against ranked teams since defeating then-No. 20 Texas Tech in 1997.