COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M coach Gary Blair appreciated his program’s top 10 ranking to start the season. But he realizes the Aggies still must earn it.
”I have never painted a picture this year that we were No. 5 in the nation and everybody should bow down to us,” Blair said following No. 7 A&M’s 59-41 victory over Prairie View A&M in Reed Arena on Monday night. ”Because we’re not playing that way right now.”
The Aggies, despite being undefeated, dropped two spots in the latest Associated Press poll, and first halves like Monday’s are why. The Aggies (5-0) and Lady Panthers (0-3) were tied 19-19 with 5:08 remaining in the first half when A&M scored the final 10 points of the half. A&M guard Courtney Walker scored the middle six of the 10 points on two jump shots and a couple of free throws.
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”The main thing was we wanted to try to control the tempo of the game some,” Prairie View coach Dawn Brown said of keeping the game tight for much of the first half. ”We didn’t want to be in too much of a rush to score the ball early.”
The Aggies picked up right where they left off by scoring the first 10 points of the second half, in owning an insurmountable 39-19 lead with 16:35 remaining. Walker led the Aggies with 10 points, and was the lone A&M player in double digits.
”We’re expecting more, and we’re going to keep working until we get it,” Blair said of anticipating more polished play from the Aggies moving forward. ”We’re also trying to hurry up the offense, and we don’t need to hurry it up.”
While A&M created 23 turnovers by Prairie View A&M, the Aggies had 19 of their own, including four each from center Jada Terry and point guard Jordan Jones.
”It was just concentration – just being lackadaisical with the ball,” Jones explained of the many miscues. ”There’s really nothing more to it.”
Guard Jeanette Jackson led the Lady Panthers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference with 24 points, although she was only 6 of 22 from the field, and the lone Prairie View player to score in double figures. No one else scored more than four.
Terry said she was impressed with the Lady Panthers’ urgency throughout the game’s 40 minutes – right down to the final seconds.
”They were just being scrappy, and going after every rebound and every loose ball,” Terry said. ”They were all over the place.”
A&M shot 38.7 percent (24 of 62) from the floor, its second worst offering of the early season. The Aggies tossed up only five 3-point attempts, making one.
”We had some open jumpers we’ve normally been hitting,” Blair said. ”We’re a work in progress, and that’s the way it’s going to be for a while.”
TIP-INS: A&M welcomed back standout forward Courtney Williams, after she missed the first four games because of a violation of team rules and athletic department policy. Williams, who averaged 14 points per game last season for an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight squad, finished with six points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
Texas A&M plays host to McNeese State on Wednesday.
Prairie View A&M plays at Hawaii on Friday.
PIVOTAL MOMENT: The game was tied 19-19 with a little more than five minutes remaining in the first half when the Aggies’ Curtyce Knox hit a layup and was fouled. Although she missed the free throw, the Aggies scored the game’s next 18 points to put it away.
STAT LINES: The Aggies dominated in the paint in holding a 32-14 advantage. . A&M capitalized mightily on 23 Lady Panthers turnovers, in outscoring Prairie View 27-9 in points off turnovers. . The Aggies double up the Lady Panthers in fast-break points, 12-6.