Johnson helps No. 6 Texas A&M rout Little Rock 78-35
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M guard Chennedy Carter, the Southeastern Conference preseason player of the year, offered a gentle reminder to fans following a pedestrian game Tuesday night.
“I’m a human being,” Carter said. “I don’t have perfect games every game.”
Texas A&M was just fine Tuesday night. Ciera Johnson had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and the sixth-ranked Aggies overwhelmed Little Rock 78-35 in the season opener for both teams.
“It was pretty typical of what I thought it was going to be like,” Trojans coach Joe Foley said. “We’re going through a learning process here early in the year.”
The Aggies shot 48 percent (31 of 65) from the field compared to 28 percent (16 of 57) for the Trojans. Carter had 10 points at the half and finished with 16 on 7-of-17 shooting. She collected six assists but also had four turnovers.
“People underestimate my passing ability, I see the court very well,” Carter said. “The coaches told us to feed the hot hand, and that was Ciera.”
“She played a very good floor game tonight,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair added of Carter.
Kyra Collier led the Trojans with 13 points and was the only Little Rock player to reach double digits. The Trojans leaped to a short-lived 9-4 lead before the Aggies stirred. Texas A&M led 44-18 at the break thanks mainly to overpowering Little Rock inside.
The Aggies outscored the Trojans 30-4 in the paint in the first half, with Johnson making 9-of-10 shots from the field in the first 20 minutes.
“The guards did their job, they passed the ball to me and all I had to do was shoot layups,” Johnson said. “The guards did all of the work.”
The Aggies had a 52-8 advantage in the paint.
“I’m more interested in the eight,” Blair said. “That’s all they got inside. We forced them into taking shots they didn’t want to take.”
Texas A&M is the only Sweet 16 team from the NCAA Tournament last season that returned all its starters.
“We were focused, and we knew what we needed to do,” Blair said of using the 6-foot-4 Johnson against the undersized Trojans. “All of a sudden, we started getting the ball inside at will.”
Texas A&M: The Aggies are known for their star guard Carter, but this 43-point victory showed they have plenty of other players who can put points on the board.
Little Rock: The lopsided loss won’t hurt a team that started two freshmen.
In one more example that she can pass as well as she can shoot, Carter spun in the lane to the left side of the basket, drawing two defenders before she rifled a pass to Johnson, who was cutting to the basket on the right side for an easy layup and a 61-26 advantage late in the third quarter.
HE SAID IT
“Naturally, I thought it would be a little rough — and it was rough. They stuck with what they do, and they know what they’re doing,” Foley said of opening against the nation’s No. 6 team.
The Aggies host the USA National Team on Thursday night in an exhibition game.
The Trojans, in search of their first victory, stay on the road at Rice on Saturday afternoon.