Aggies celebrate third straight Big Dance bid

For the first time in school history, the Texas A&M men's basketball team will make it's third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon and the Aggies react to Sunday night's announcement.

The Aggies entered the weekend on the bubble, but after Big 12 Tournament wins over Iowa State and Kansas State--in what was the equivalent to a road game for the Aggies--Texas A&M knew it had punched its ticket for the school's third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

The only question was what seed the Aggies would receive and where their travel agent will be making reservations.

The No. 9 seed Aggies will face No. 8 seed BYU in the first round, with a second-round match up against UCLA--in Anaheim--waiting in the wings.

"We're thrilled to get into the NCAA Tournament," said Turgeon, who is making his second NCAA appearance as a head coach. "BYU has a heck of a basketball team. They almost beat North Carolina early in the year, beat UNLV in Las Vegas and won their league. BYU has a lot of tradition and has had a great year. They are always very tough and skilled and they have a big kid in the middle who has a chance to be a pro. With the game being on the West coast, they will probably have a lot of fans there. We are looking forward to the challenge."

In 2006, Turgeon led Wichita State to the Sweet Sixteen, where they fell to eventual Final Four participant George Mason.

The announcement came after an emotional weekend for the team in Kansas City, and a day before the funeral of Donald Sloan's mother in Dallas.

"We've had a tough week with everything that's gone on, but you have to take what life throws at you and deal with it," Turgeon said. "Things have started to click with us recently and Sloan's situation has brought us together. We have some confidence now, but we know we have to continue to improve."

Texas A&M senior Joseph Jones, who stepped up his play this weekend in the Big 12 Tournament, said he's excited about his third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

"To make the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year just shows how far we've come as a program," Jones said. "It feels great because it gives us another opportunity to show what we can do. BYU has some great players and it should be a very good game. We know we'll have to have a great defensive effort if we hope to move on."


NOTES:
*A&M is making its ninth NCAA appearance and has a 6-9 record, including a 3-2 mark in the last two years.
*A&M has played BYU just once. The No. 14-ranked Cougars posted an 83-81 victory in the first round of the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City in 1972-73.
*A&M is making its second appearance at the Honda Center. The No. 6-ranked Aggies lost to No. 1 UCLA, 65-62, in last year's Wooden Classic.

OTHER PLAYERS REACT TO NCAA TOURNAMENT BID:

FRESHMAN CENTER DEANDRE JORDAN: "This is my first NCAA Tournament, so I'm very excited. I'm probably more hyped than all the older guys because they've been there before. We've just got to relax and take care of business. I know a lot of the BYU players and I know they have a really good team. We are going to focus on them and try to move on from there."

SOPHOMORE GUARD DERRICK ROLAND: "We played at the Honda Center last year (vs. UCLA in the Wooden Classic), so we have a good feel for what the atmosphere will be like. We know BYU is good because they are a higher seed that we are. We've got to take it one game at a time."

SENIOR GUARD/FORWARD BEAU MUHLBACH: "It was good to hear out named called again. We are just excited to get into the tournament. BYU will probably have a lot more fans there so it will be like a road game for us. They are a good team and they are on a roll right now. It means a lot to the seniors to play in three straight NCAA Tournaments. It just shows that hard work pays off. It's all about the team right now, about coming together and trying to win as a team."

SOPHOMORE FORWARD BRYAN DAVIS: "It's a great opportunity for us. I got to play in all three NCAA games last year and it was great. We control our own destiny now. The seeding made no difference at all to us. BYU is a great team and we know some of their players. We are peaking at the right time and playing together as a team. We'll be ready to play on Thursday."




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