Raiders Eye A&M

Tech guard <b>Andre Emmett</b> and center <b>Andy Ellis</b> are not claustrophobic. <p> <br>

"Being in a crowded room doesn't bother me," Emmett said. What about a crowded three-way tie for third place in the Big 12 Conference?

Tech (19-8 overall, 8-5 Big 12) enters Saturday's 12:45 p.m. home game vs. Texas A&M tied with Oklahoma State and Texas for third place.

"It is good that we are right there," Ellis said. "But then again, it is kind of a sweet and sour sort of thing. We let Nebraska and Oklahoma State slip away. If we beat them, we are fighting for second place."

A top four finish would give Tech a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament and set school history.

"That (first-round bye) gives you an opportunity to win the tournament," Ellis said. "By playing three games instead of four, helps a lot. Playing four games in this caliber of a conference is, whew, very tough."

Kansas is in first place and has clinched a tie for the conference crown. Oklahoma follows in second place, two games ahead of the third-place bunch, while Missouri is alone is sixth place.

Emmett said it'll be a tough fight to the finish.

"We know they want it just as much as us," Emmett said. "But it has to be more than wanted it. We have to go get it. Wins and losses are big right now."

Ellis said he likes Tech's chances, because they control their own destiny. If the Raiders beat the A&M tomorrow, Texas in Austin on Tuesday and Baylor in Waco on March 2, Tech will finish no worse than fourth place.

Saturday's game will be Ellis, guard Jesus Arenas and guard Chris Cassidy's final home games as Raiders. Ellis and Arenas are seniors and Cassidy is a junior, but will graduate this May and is expected to not return next season.

Ellis said playing the rival Aggies on Saturday will be memorable.

"It makes it a little more special, Ellis said. "I would really like to win this game. I always really want to beat A&M."

Tech beat A&M (9-18 overall, 3-10 Big 12) in January's Big 12 opener 72-70 in College Station.

Ellis said despite A&M's poor record and third-place counterpart Texas on deck Tuesday, Tech will not overlook the Aggies.

"If we look past them, we can mess a lot of things up," Ellis said. "If we let this game go by, it will nullify a lot of good victories for us this season."

Emmett said because the Aggies are rivals, it's easier to not ignore A&M.

"You can't do that," Emmett said. "Tech-A&M is not just a game. It is a rivalry. We have to show up."

The three seniors are scheduled to speak to the crowd following Saturday's game.

"It will be pretty emotional," Ellis said. "But I really don't know what to expect."

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