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Texas A&M WBB: 4 seed in the first committee release

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Ags BTHO Bama last week; LSU Monday night

NCAA Womens Basketball: Texas A&M at Tennessee
Khaalia Hillsman has been on a run
Saul Young-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been several days since the Women’s Bouncy Ball team got a solid win in Tuscaloosa on Thursday night against an Alabama team that was missing a starter due to a concussion. The game was only on streaming, but we got a chance to hear legendary Alabama announcer Eli Gold do a WBB game along with former Tide coach Rick Moody, an old friend of Coach Blair which led to golf and fishing stories interspersed into the gamecast. The game was played in a mostly empty Coleman Coliseum.

For the second time this season, Blair shook up the starting lineup by putting Chennedy Carter on the bench to open the game. I’m not sure why, as the post-game coverage I saw was limited. However, Gold and Moody thought Carter might be a bit under the weather (but see below) and I was also wondering if this was partly a response to Chennedy admitting in the Georgia post-game presser that she was getting fatigued at the end. Or it was because Wells has been playing better on D in limited minutes. Or maybe he was just messing with the stat geeks who look at our lack of bench production. This time, Blair move Danni Williams to the PG position and gave Fr. Kayla Wells her first career start. The Ags responded by opening the game on an 8-0 run, but then saw most of the lead go away by the end of the first quarter, which ended with 15-12 AM lead after Bama blew a chance to convert a turnover and Williams hit a J with 2 seconds left.

Carter came in to start the second quarter. The Ags built an 8 point 35-27 halftime lead. A&M was in control for the whole second half, and the bench got more minutes than usual. The lead went to double digits in the middle of the 3rd quarter and stayed there, reaching 23 points in the middle of the 4th. Bama had no answer for Khaalia Hillsman. Based on stats, I had been worried about Bama’s shot blocking backup, but she mostly looked lost on Thursday night.

  • Khaalia Hillsman had her 4th straight double double with 20 points and 10 boards. She also blocked 5 shots.
  • Despite sitting out the whole first quarter Chennedy Carter had 20 points off the bench
  • Anriel Howard looked unstoppable in the early going but spent a lot of the game on the bench with foul trouble, so she missed her usual rebounding mark. She was credited with 8 points and 7 rebounds.

The first committee release

The other thing that happened in the middle of last week was that the NCAA selection committee did their first projection of the top 16 for the tourney. Since WBB early rounds are at schools, this helps teams plan for whether or not they should prepare for hosting.

  1. UConn (No. 1 seed – Albany Region)
  2. Mississippi State (No. 1 seed – Kansas City Region)
  3. Louisville (No. 1 seed – Lexington Region)
  4. Oregon (No. 1 seed – Spokane Region)
  5. Tennessee
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Texas
  8. South Carolina
  9. Baylor
  10. Ohio State
  11. Florida State
  12. UCLA
  13. Missouri
  14. Texas A&M
  15. Rutgers
  16. Georgia

Six SEC teams were in the projected top 16. Georgia was unranked in the polls but was coming off their OT win vs the Ags. There will be a couple more releases in February before the selection show.

Up Next

The Ags get a Monday night TV game

  • LSU Tigers
  • Monday Jan 22, 2018 6PM CST
  • Reed Arena
  • Dollar Hot Dog night (really!)
  • TV: SECN Radio: 1150 AM/102.7 FM

Someone in the event planning in the Athletics Dept. must like trolling opponents. We had a chicken eating contest for S. Carolina one year and not Hot Dog night? Too bad our concessions don’t do corn dogs. On a more serious note, it’s the annual We Back Pat Week to support the late Pat Summitt’s charity for Alzheimer’s research. It was a bit odd seeing her son Tyler in the promos for We Back Pat in the weekend’s WBB games, given that it was less than 2 years ago that he resigned as the coach at Louisiana Tech for having an affair with one of his players.

LSU’s Nikki Fargas brings the Tigers to Reed with a 12-5 overall W/L record, tied with A&M and Tennessee for 5th place in the SEC, behind Miss State, Georgia, Mizzou, and S. Carolina. LSU is unranked, but has often given the Ags trouble. Since we joined the SEC, we play LSU twice every year. The Ags are 7-4 vs Tigers since 2013, playing 10 regular season games and meeting once in the SEC tourney, where they knocked us out in 2015. Last year the teams split with the home team winning both times.

LSU opened SEC play by winning 2 vs Vandy and Mizzou (without Sophie Cunningham), losing 2 to Miss State and Bama, then winning their last 2 against Florida and Auburn. LSU plays a lot of 2-3 zone and looks to score in transition off of steals. They’re second to Auburn in the SEC in steals/game at 9.9. They are not a 3 point-happy team. They’re last in the SEC in attempts. Likely starters:

  • #11 5-10 Sr G Raigyne Louis (formerly Moncrief). Louis seems like she’s been at LSU forever, due to a medical redshirt a couple of years ago. She’s an easy player to like when she’s not playing us: overcame a tough injury, electric player, and an Electrical Engineering major. She married a football player in the last off-season and changed her name, following the example of her coach. Louis is averaging 15.7 ppg and has started every game. She had 18 and 23 points in last year’s games.
  • #00 5-9 Jr G Chloe Jackson leads the team in scoring at 16.9 ppg and has started every game. She had 12 and 17 points in last year’s games.
  • $5 6-2 So F Ayana Mitchell is the other player who has started every game. She improved markedly between the two games vs the Ags, coming off the bench both times for 3 and 12 points. This year she’s averaging 8.6 ppg and leading the team in rebounding with 6.9 per game
  • #13 5-4 So G Jaelyn Richard-Harris has started 12 games and averages 4.6 ppg
  • #2 5-8 Jr G Shanice Norton averages 2.3 ppg, which is consistent with her production last year vs. the Ags. She’s started 9 games.

All 5 LSU starters have double digit steals totals on the season. Several other players have started at some point in the season. #24 6-5 RS Fr Faustine Aifuwa is averaging 18.1 min/g.