CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi basketball fans won't have to wait long to see how their team stacks up against top-quality competition next season. Today (Monday, May 24), University officials announced a three-year agreement with Texas A&M University that will bring the Aggies to Corpus Christi to take on the Islanders on Monday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. in the American Bank Center on Stripes Court.
The meeting will be just the second between the teams and the first since 2004 when the Islanders pulled off an 82-80 upset in College Station. The teams will also play at Texas A&M in 2011 and 2012.
Surprising the Aggies a second time could be a formidable task as they return 12 experienced players from last year's squad that posted a 24-10 record and placed a strong fourth in the powerful Big 12 Conference. Texas A&M, which finished the season ranked in the top 25 of most national polls, caught fire in the second half of the season, defeating traditional powerhouses Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State before losing to then top-ranked Kansas in the Big 12 Championship game. The Aggies advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they fell to the Purdue Boilermakers 63-61 in overtime.
"This game makes a major statement about the direction we are taking the Islander program," said Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Director of Athletics Tim Fitzpatrick, who has made adding nationally-recognized opponents to the Islanders' non-conference home schedule a top priority. "We are committed to bringing high-quality opponents to Corpus Christi and providing our fans with an exciting brand of college basketball that will pack the stands. We look forward to a great college atmosphere on Nov. 15."
Although next season's schedule has yet to be finalized, the Islanders have already added two other impressive opponents to their slate. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will go on the road to take on Houston and Texas Tech this year, then host the Cougars and Red Raiders in 2011-12. Houston, which plays in Conference USA, has reached the final four of the NCAA Tournament five times in 18 NCAA Tournament appearances and captured the Conference USA Tournament title last season. Last year, the Red Raiders advanced to the third round of the post-season National Invitation Tournament before losing to Mississippi in double-overtime.
"The fun of cheering on the home team is as much a part of the university experience as term papers and finals week," said University President Flavius Killebrew. "And because strong athletic programs serve as a university's link to alumni and the community, these impressive additions to the basketball schedule ensure that our fans will have the opportunity to experience big-time basketball first-hand as the Islanders continue to establish themselves as a force in college athletics."
Last year, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi posted a 17-15 record and, for the second straight season, advanced to the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament. As the Islanders enter Perry Clark's fourth season at the helm, they return four players who started 25-or-more of the team's 32 contests. Leading the returnees will be the inside tandem of seniors Demond Watt, a third-team All-Southland Conference selection a season ago, and Justin Reynolds, whose 911 career points is tops amongst current players. Also returning are Horace Bond, a senior who started 31 games a season ago, and Terence Jones who started 25 games as a freshman.
"In the past, if we've wanted to play a Big 12 team we have had to go to their place so being able to bring in a team like Texas A&M is great for our fans and great for our program," said Clark. "I think it will be an exciting series."
Season tickets for the 2010-11 season, which include the game with Texas A&M, are now on sale for $199 and can be purchased by calling the Islander ticket office at (361) 825-BALL. Tickets for the A&M game may only be obtained through the purchase of season tickets at this time.