Friday, March 12, 2010
Texans truly lone stars up against Kansans
By Jeff Caplan
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- OK, so this isn't exactly a border war.
But, the boys from Texas will definitely know they're still in Kansas during tonight's Big 12 tournament semifinal games. No. 4 Texas A&M faces No. 1 Kansas State at 6 p.m., followed by No. 3 Baylor against No. 2 Kansas State.
With the weekend here, the crowd at the Sprint Center is expected to be big and biased.
"Is that helpful or not, I don't know," said Kansas State coach Frank Martin, whose team won a non-conference game in the arena earlier this season. "It's great for our fans. Two years ago, my first-time ever in a Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, we had a tremendous following, so I hope it's advantageous for us in some way, shape or form."
Partisan crowds can certainly provide a home-court feel, but they can only do so much. To no suprise, Kansas easily produced the largest crowd yet of the tournament, practically filling the 18,000-seat arena Thursday with a sea of blue and red. But, Texas Tech did a great job quieting the building by keeping the score close and putting a scare in the Jayhawks followers before finally succumbing.
"We won't care what comes out of the stands. We know there will be a lot of Jayhawks in here," A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "But we've become a pretty good road team down the stretch. We've won four of our last five road games. We'll treat it like a road game. We'll have that approach to it."
One of those road wins snapped Missouri's 32-game home win streak. And the Aggies' seniors, including starters Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis, have something else to use as motivation. They remember 2007 when A&M went into Allen Fieldhouse and became the first -- and last -- Big 12 South team to defeat Kansas on its home floor.