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Crowd to bid farewell to seniors

Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 22:02

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Heran Guan

Senior center Karla Gilbert will be among the seniors honored Thursday against Arkansas.

No. 17 Texas A&M women’s basketball team will play its final home game of the season at 7 p.m. Thursday against the Arkansas Razorbacks inside Reed Arena. 

The senior class will be honored as part of Senior Night.

The game will mark the third time in three seasons the Aggies (21-7, 11-3 SEC) have played the Razorbacks. A&M holds the advantage 2-0, including a 61-59 win in the second round of the 2012 NCAA tournament. 

Arkansas (18-9, 5-9 SEC) enters College Station fresh off of a 57-53 upset of the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. The Razorbacks came back from a 15-point deficit to pull off the road win. 

“It’s past news, it’s gone,” said Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair on the loss. “Right now we’ve got to get a team ready to win the last two ball games and to play well in the SEC tournament and go further in March than we did last year.” 

Both teams are characterized by defensive prowess. The Razorbacks have the best defense in the SEC, holding conference opponents to 52.3 points per game. The Aggies hold the third best conference defense, allowing 57.9 points per game. 

Blair said he expects Arkansas to come in desperate, battling for a spot in the NCAA tournament, which will slip away with a loss to A&M. 

Blair will fly to Little Rock, Ark., Friday to be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. He spent a decade as the head coach of the Razorbacks, amassing a 198-120 record.

“Arkansas was very good to me,” Blair said. “I loved my 10 years there. It means a lot that the high school coaches and the colleagues that I had all over the state would want me in that Hall of Fame.”

Blair will become the second Aggie head coach to join the hall, along with Paul “Bear” Bryant.  

Because Thursday’s game is the final home game of the season, it also marks senior day for the Aggies. Seniors Karla Gilbert and Kristen Grant are the only remaining players from A&M’s 2011 National Championship team and Blair said they are part of a group of players who’ve meant a lot to the program. 

“[Gilbert and Grant are] my last thread from that National Championship team,” Blair said. “I never want to lose on a senior day. But there’s always pressure when you play the school that you came from.”  

The game will be shown on Fox Sports Southwest. Following the Aggies’ final home game, they end their regular season against the Florida Gators at noon Sunday. 

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