WBB:Trips to win

Courtney Williams knifes through the Arkansas D for a layup - Jim Hu

The Women's Bouncy Ball team jumped out on Arkansas and kept the pedal to the metal for 40 minutes. Along the way, Sophomore PG Jordan Jones became the third woman in TAMU history to score a triple double.

On Wednesday, Jordan Jones was recognized for Good Bull by getting named to the All-SEC Women's Basketball Community Service Team.

Texas A&M sophomore point guard Jordan Jones was named to the team for her contributions to the Aggies' mentor program with Bryan ISD for elementary school children.

Jones has gone above and beyond the requirements of the program, taking it upon herself to visit several additional schools during the week. Jones has had a profound impact on many of her mentees, including forming a special bond with a particular 10-year old student at Bonham Elementary. Earlier this season, Jones and the team were recognized by the superintendent of Bryan ISD, Dr. Thomas Wallis, when he personally thanked the team for their service at one of the Aggies' practices.

Jones served a different community on Thursday night  by leading the Ags to a runaway win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. Coach Blair had been concerned about production from the point position. In Sunday's loss to UK, JJ and her backup Curtyce Knox combined to go just 3-15 from the field. Jones took extra practice on her shooting touch and opened the scoring with a 3 pointer just 18 seconds into the game. Tori Scott, starting for Achiri Ade, got an assist. This was the start of a 13-0 run before the Hawgs got on the board with a 3-ball from Calli Berna.

The Ags used a variety of small lineups. Starting Scott moved Courtney Williams to the 4. At various times Achiri played the 5 while Karla was on the bench, and Curtyce played the 2 guard when Courtney Walker got in foul trouble in the first half. Courtney  A&M led 43-32 at halftime, but it felt like the margin should have been larger. The Ags were shooting north of 50% while holding Arkansas to the mid 20s. A&M was outrebounding the Hogs and the turnovers were close. Free throws were keeping Arkansas in striking distance; both Arkansas making them and the Ags missing them. CWill led the Ags in the first half, scoring 14 points before the intermission. Jones added 9 on 2 3s, a jumper and a FT. Berna had 10 in the first half for Arkansas.

The Ags started the second half by getting the ball to Karla in the paint. This seemed like it could be a point of emphasis, but 2 fouls before the 4 minutes had elapsed sent Gilbert to the bench.  Jhasmin Bowen made 1/2 free throws as Coach Blair sent in Rachel Mitchell. Rachel didn't have a good game vs UK, while Jada Terry had one of her best performances in the losing effort, but any doubt about who to put in for Karla was eliminated because Jada was in street clothes. With the score 47-36 and Karla out, this seemed like a point where Arkansas might make it interesting. Instead, the Ags went on a 10-2 run before Arkansas called a timeout. During the run, the Hawgs tried three times to take advantage of the mismatch of 5-11 Tori Scott guarding 6-3 post Jessica Jackson. Three times Jackson got the ball deep in the paint. Three times she came up empty. The timeout didn't help much as the CW network scored a bucket each before the media timeout at 11:26. After that, Arkansas' hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to … 20.

By midway through the second half, Jones had already gotten a double-double in points and assists. She was getting close in rebounds; I could hear people around me counting them off as she grabbed boards 7-9.

They kept saying, Jordan looked like she was dead tired, but all of a sudden at half she had seven rebounds. I said ‘Hey, we don't have a chance too many times. You can rest tomorrow. So I put her on the free throw line, when she had 9 rebounds. - Gary Blair

No, I didn't [know where I stood with the triple-doubles]. But of course, Coach Blair came up to the bench and said ‘Give me two more rebounds so I can pull you out. You can have a triple double.' So then after that, I was telling everybody ‘Get out the way, I'll get it. Get out the way, I got it, I got it!' - Jordan Jones

Once JJ got her 10th board, the crowd gave her a standing O and she subbed out. With the game in hand and the triple double secured, the only question was whether the Ags could get a basket for Cristina Sanchez-Quintenar off the bench. Karla and the other Senior, Kristen Grant, were already in the scoring column. The one pass meant for Q was off the mark and led to a turnover.  She did get into the box score by committing a foul on the subsequent possession.

Obvious player of the game: Jones.

19 points, 10 boards, 10 assists. The only other triple-doubles in Aggie Women's Bouncy Ball history were by Tocarra Williams and Danielle Adams. Adams did it with points, rebounds, and blocks. JJ was 7-8 from the field, and 4-5 from behind the arc. She only had 4 turnovers for a A/TO of 2.5. She also played outstanding D on Berna in the second half. Lest JJ get too cocky, there were some imperfections in her game (which I'm sure the coaches will point out): she was 1-3 from the FT line; she's usually reliable from the charity stripe. Jones also had a couple of those turnovers on really bad entry passes to Karla.

JJ's triple-double overshadowed Courtney Williams' 18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 TO game, which is not too shabby in its own right. Courtney Walker recovered from foul trouble to score 10.  Another remarkable performance came from Tori Scott, whose 9 points and 6 boards are secondary to the D she played on Jackson, the leading scorer on the Arkansas side. Jackson finished with 9 points on 1-12 shooting plus a perfect 7-7 night at the FT line. 5 of those came against Tavarsha Scott-Williams, who fouled Jackson on a 3 point shot.

Context

Winning on Senior night is a psychological boost after the frustrating UK loss. But it is not that important in the SEC standings, as S. Carolina clinched the regular season title by beating Georgia on Thursday. The Ags or Lady Vols will finish second, depending on the outcomes of our last game and S. Carolina @ Tennessee on Sunday. The other will finish third. That means that if chalk holds, the Ags and Vols will play in one semi while S. Carolina will play Kentucky or Florida in the other.  The difference between being the 2 or the 3 is whether we get the 6 or 7 team (or whoever upset them) in the quarterfinals.  Right now, there's a 3-way tie among Vandy, LSU, and Auburn at 7-8 for the 6-8 seeds.

The Ags are currently ranked 17th and will likely be a 3 or 4 seed in NCAA tourney. I'm not sure what the worst case would be if the Ags lose Sunday and exit early in the conference tourney, but A&M is not in any danger of missing the dance.

Up next: Season Finale at Florida

The Ags finish the SEC regular season on Sunday against the Florida Gators in Gainesville. Florida has a stronger motivation to play hard for their postseason status than the Ags do. Florida has to beat A&M and get some help from Vandy to get the 4 seed in the SEC tourney. If Vandy beats UK and Florida beats A&M, the Gators and Wildcats would both finish conference play at 9-7. Florida would get the tiebreaker from sweeping Kentucky in head to head play. A win would be huge for Florida for their NCAA fate. ESPN's Charlie Creme currently has the Gators as one of the last four in.

The Gators have had a tumultous season, which actually started in the offseason when three players transferred including 6'7" transfer Vicky McIntyre and Sydney Moss, Randy Moss' daughter, who made the All-SEC freshman team. Moss started 24 games in 2012-13 and averaged 11.8 ppg. The Gators also lost 6'-0" F Jennifer George to graduation and the WNBA draft.  But George was the only senior and the Gators brought in highly rated freshman Ronnie Williams and transfers Cassie Peoples and Antoinette Bannister became eligible. Florida went 10-3 in their out of conference schedule and opened the SEC schedule with 3 straight wins over Miss State, @Kentucky, and Arkansas. The win in Lexington got people's attention; this was when UK was ranked #6.  It seemed like Coach Amanda Butler was going to make Florida a dark horse contender in the SEC. Then offseason stupidity caught up with 6'-0" Soph F Christin Mercer, who was the second leading scorer on the team with 11.8 ppg off the bench.

Jan 14 - Mercer was arrested over the weekend in connection with a home invasion and robbery that took place in May. Mercer and a co-defendant are facing a third-degree felony charge for conspiracy to commit robbery. Three other defendants are facing a first-degree felony charge for home invasion robbery with a mask and a firearm.

It would be hard for this to come at a worse time. Florida dropped their next 3 games: @LSU by 14, Georgia by 6, and @Tennessee by 20. The Gators rallied to win their next 3, but lost the rematch with Arkansas to start a stretch of losing 4 out of 6 down the stretch. But the two wins are against UK and @Vandy. So, the bottom line is: Florida is unpredictable.

The variance can be partly explained by the offense/defense numbers. Gators are averaging 75.5 ppg (3rd in the SEC) and giving up 69.6 ppg (13th).  Florida is led by 5'-7" Sr PG Jaterra Bonds, who has been the Gators' leading scorer in 13/28 games, and who has led in rebounding 4 times. Bonds leads the team in points (15.7 ppg), assists and is second in steals. She also leads the teams in turnovers. It will be interesting to see whether Bonds draws Jones or Walker on D. With Mercer out, two other Gators, Kayla Lewis and January Miller, are averaging 10+ ppg.   Peoples is just shy at 9.8 ppg. The leading rebounder is 6-0 RS-Jr Lewis, who is averaging 8.8 boards/game. Lily Svete is their tallest player at 6'-2". Svete is more of a 3 pt threat than an inside banger.

All this suggests that the Ags should be able to abuse the Gators inside, but I expect to see the usual packed in zone focused on denying the entry to Karla. Blair has gone small on small in several games, so we may see a lot of time with Williams at the 4 and Tori at the 3.

Noon on Sunday

TV: CSS/Cox Sports TV, whatever those are. It's listed as being on Ch. 119 on Suddenlink in B/CS

Gig 'Em!

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