Last Saturday an underappreciated Texas A&M basketball team got its chance to make a statement.
The Aggies did so with a 63-62 upset of visiting Washington, which was ranked No. 21 in the country and joined Temple ranked teams A&M had taken down this season.
"I think there was a chip on our shoulder when the season started because there was no votes (in the polls) and we'd been to five straight tournaments, and we lost two really good players, but we had eight of our top 10 scorers coming back," Aggies head coach Mark Turgeon said.
It's Arkansas' chance to make one this Saturday as the Razorbacks (7-1) take on the now No. 25 Aggies (9-1) in Dallas' American Airlines Center in the opener of a college basketball doubleheader dubbed The Showcase.
"We were fired up for Washington because they had a number in front of their name, and I'm sure Arkansas will be fired up now because there is a number in front of our name," Turgeon said.
Razorback freshman guard and former Dallas area standout Rickey Scott, who was recruited by both teams, knows people will be gauging how improved his team is by its performance in this game.
"It's definitely a statement game for us, there is definitely a lot of people watching us because we have had a weaker schedule than others," Scott said.
Scott, who led the Dallas area in scoring last season and who has started the last four games for Arkansas, will have some 50 family members and friends on hand to support him.
"I was so happy when I found out we were playing in Dallas," Scott said. "I called my parents and they started rounding everybody up to come to this game. I've definitely had this game circled."
Scott, a good shooter who had a lot of his shots go long early in the season from being too energized, knows he is likely to be either a little nervous or a little too hyped before the contest.
"I will probably listen to a lot of gospel music before the game because it helps me calm down," Scott said. "I'll talk to my dad, too. He helps me a lot."
A&M has a front line featuring 6-8 sophomore forward Khris Middleton (14.4), junior forward David Loubeau (10.9) and 6-7 senior Nathan Walkup (9.9) – all of whom are averaging over 5 rebounds per game.
They are joined in the starting line-up by 5-11 senior B.J. Holmes (9.7) and 6-1 junior guard Dash Harris (3.4).
The Aggies have outrebounded all of their foes this season by a 41-29 average, rank 14th in the nation in scoring defense (56.7 points per game) and held teams to just 37 percent field goal shooting.
""A&M is an outstanding team," Pelphrey said. "One of the better teams in the country in rebounding and defensively. We understand we will have to be the best we have been all year."
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