Starks helps No. 15 Texas A&M cruise past Colorado

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Texas A&M coach Gary Blair understands that
some basketball fans think the Aggies' style of basketball is ugly.
As long as they keep winning, he has no plans to change it.

Top-seeded Texas A&M (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 13 AP) rode its best defensive outing of the
season against a Big 12 opponent to a 62-45 win over Colorado in
the conference tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The Aggies (24-5) head to the semifinals for the
second straight season to play Iowa State on Thursday. Iowa State
beat Nebraska 79-76 in overtime.

That's heady stuff for a program that until last year had not
won a game in the first nine years of Big 12 tournament history.

"We had that attitude, that's why we went out there with such
hard intensity on defense," Blair said. "I was really proud of my
half-court defense."

The Aggies, the league's leader in defensive field goal
percentage, held Colorado (13-17) to 26.1 percent shooting, the
Buffaloes' worst of the season. The Aggies held a league opponent
under 50 points for the third time this season.

"Well, it wasn't pretty," Colorado coach Kathy
McConnell-Miller said. "But it wasn't for a lack of effort or a
true commitment to coming in here and trying to beat A&M. But
you've got to give all the credit to A&M.

"They're a phenomenal team. They're the kind of team that makes
it impossible to run your stuff. ... They put an amazing amount of
pressure on the basketball. Their depth is exceptional."

The Aggies turned up the defensive pressure early.

Colorado went 6½ minutes without scoring in one early stretch
and almost nine minutes without a basket.

Colorado had 12 turnovers and shot 18.5 percent from the field
in the first half. Until scoring five points in the final minute to
pull within 26-15, the Buffs threatened to match the school record
for fewest points in a half.

"I didn't like the last minute of the half," Blair said. "We
had a chance to really hold a team down to 10 points and it's not
like we're trying to ever do anything like that, but you want to
take that momentum and pride in there ... We made some mistakes,
and that comes with the territory."

Colorado trailed by 15 points late in the first half but used a
10-4 run to open the second half to pull within 30-25 with 14:41

"Then they just stepped up and hit shots," McConnell-Miller
said of the Aggies.

Texas A&M quickly rebuilt the lead to 11 points at 41-30. A
3-pointer by Colorado's Hannah Skildum with 10:25 left -- one of
only two in the game for the Buffs -- cut the Aggies' lead to 41-35,
but Texas A&M answered with a 19-4 run over the next eight minutes.

"We knew we had to break the lead open," said Texas A&M point
guard A'Quonesia Franklin, who hit two 3-pointers during the run
and finished with 13 points. "If we didn't, you knew it was going
to be a close game and we didn't want that kind of finish."

Takia Starks scored 16 points to lead Texas A&M.

Jackie McFarland led Colorado with 17 points and 13 rebounds,
her 18th double-double of the season, and added four steals and two
blocked shots. She had seven of the Buffs' 26 turnovers, while
point guard Whitney Houston had eight.

Patrice Reado added 13 points for Texas A&M, which had beaten
Colorado 74-58 on Jan. 18 in the teams' regular-season meeting.