The Women’s Bouncy Ball team went to Fayetteville to face the rebuilding Arkansas Razorbacks, aka the Ladybacks. Arkansas has some talented players, but not enough of them and it quickly got ugly for new coach Mike Neighbors on the last home game at Bud Walton Arena.
The Ladybacks kept it close early and led briefly at 10-9. Teams have been defending the Ags by daring Lumpkin and Howard to score and Jasmine punished that strategy early, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. As others got involved after the first media timeout, the Ags opened up a 28-17 lead after the first period.
Coach Blair was already giving reserves playing time in the second quarter. Caylinne Martin, Lulu McKinney, and Jada Walton all saw the floor. The Ags outscored Arkansas 27-16 in the second period. A&M shot 51.2% from the field while holding the Ladybacks to 29.7%. After halftime, Coach Blair noted to an interviewer that the Ags had scored as many points in the half than they had in the whole game vs Miss State. Coach Neighbors would talk about how Arkansas could have held the score down by slowing things down, but that’s not how he wants them to play. So the fast play by Arkansas gave A&M more chances for the Ags to feed Khaalia Hillsman for easy layups. A reporter would ask Neighbors if Khaalia was just too big for the Hogs to handle. His answer: Yes.
It got worse for the Ladybacks in the third quarter. Despite continuing to rotate in bench players, the Ags outscored Arkansas 36-14 to take a 91-47 lead into the final quarter. Jada Walton got her first 3 pointer in conference play. Emer Nichols was in the game before the end of the third. I think that might be the earliest we’ve seen her in a long time, if not for her career.
Both teams pretty much went to the bench in the final period. The 4th quarter was a 13-13 draw, but that was enough to give the Ags their season high in total points.
Final Score 104-60
- It was the first time the Ags had ever scored more than 100 points in an SEC game
- The last time the Ags scored 100+ in a conference game was in 1983 vs Rice. There are members of the coaching staff who hadn’t been born yet. Radar Ricke was still a GA when that happened. Gary Blair hadn’t gotten is first college HC job yet.
- Carter led the Ags with 21 points on 9-17 shooting (3-4 from 3). She had 7 assists against 1 TO and added 8 rebounds. But one of my favorite moments for her was actually when she moved to cut off a back door cut on defense.
- Anriel had another double-double and shocked the Hogs by going 3-3 from 3 point distance.
- All 5 starters finished in double figures. Jasmine had 17.
- We like assists!
The top 6 all won on Thursday night. That means S. Carolina is 3 games back of the SEC regular season champ, undefeated #2 Miss State, with 1 to play clinched at least a tie for 2nd at 12-3 in conference. Georgia and Mizzou are at 11-4. A&M, Tennessee, and LSU, which lost to S. Carolina are all at 10-5. Alabama is 3 games further back at 7-8. The Georgia Bulldogs dodged an upset on Thursday night as Bama missed a the first of 2 FTs that would have given them a 3 point lead with 16 seconds to go. Instead, a late putback sent an ugly game into OT tied at 40. Georgia pulled away in the OT tied at 40-40. The winners had 27 turnovers.
This means that the best A&M can do going into the conference tourney is to be in a tie for 3rd where we lose a tiebreaker and the worst outcome is the 7 seed in the SEC tourney. There is a scenario where we get the 4 seed and the double bye if we beat Mizzou, and Tennessee and LSU both lose. Georgia would finish with the 3 seed and we would edge Mizzou based on head to head (both lost to Georgia).
The other question is our place in the NCAAs. The Ags are projected as a 5 seed, which would mean going on the road for the whole tourney instead of hosting the first two rounds. It’s not clear if beating Mizzou is enough to reclaim a 4 seed. Blair thinks we need that win and a couple of wins in the SEC tourney. What happens in other conferences might also help. #13 Maryland losing at Michigan on Thursday could help. I’m hoping Nebraska can upset the Terps on Sunday.
Up Next: Senior Day
- Missouri Tigers
- Sunday February 25, 2018 tipoff at 3PM; seniors honored before the game
- Reed Arena
- TV: SEC Network Radio 1150AM/102.7 FM
The MUTigers come to Reed Arena with a 1 game lead over the Ags in the SEC standings. A win would drop them into a tie with us where we would have the head to head tiebreaker - which may not be relevant depending on how many teams are tied for what at the end of Sunday’s play. Mizzou is 23-5 overall.
When Robin Pingeton took over as Mizzou’s HC, they started out as a team with a reputation for emphasizing 3 point shooting. They are still among the leaders in 3 pointers in the SEC, but in the past few years they’ve added a stronger inside game and are much more physical on D than they used to be. They’re very good with moving the ball against the opponents D and being patient in setting up good shots.
- #3 6-1 Jr G Sophie Cunningham was All-Conference last year and was honorable mention for AP All-America. She’s having a very strong season, leading the team in scoring with 18.6 ppg and 3 point shots made. She’s shooting .558 overall and .469 from behind the arc. She also leads the teams in fouls committed. She’s the kind of player that you call hard-nosed and tough if she’s on your team and dirty if she’s on the other team. She’s probably the most hated WBB player in S. Carolina these days.
- #22 6-1 RS Sr F Jordan Frericks is second in scoring (12.3) and leading slightly in rebounding (7.8). Frericks missed last season with an injury but is a very good player who can score in the paint or with mid-range jumpers. She hasn’t taken many 3s and hasn’t made any yet. She was 2nd team All-SEC before her injury.
- #21 6-4 Jr F Cierra Porter trails Frericks slightly in rebounding (7.7) and adds 10.0 ppg. She’s the sister of the Porter on the MBB team and has a sister on the WBB team. She leads the team in blocked shots with 25.
- #23 5-11 So G Amber Smith adds 9.5 ppg. She’s second to Porter in blocked shots.
- #5 5-7 RS Jr Tr G Lauren Aldridge leads the team in assists. She sat out last season after transferring from Kansas where she would have been tutored by Aqua Franklin. She was the regular starter at KU. Her transfer was a shock to KU Coach Brandon Schneider, but she’s from Missouri and used her RS year to graduate and enter law school at Mizzou.
Mizzou WBB has been in the news recently for some off the court issues. The game at S. Carolina came after Mizzou had beaten the Gamecocks in Missouri. S. Carolina coach Dawn Staley had a lot of complaints after A’ja Wilson was in foul trouble during that game and eventually fouled out. The Gamecock fans decided to boo Sophie Cunningham every time she touched the ball. There was a mid court scuffle that led to some ejections and after the game there were accusations that the S. Carolina fans had spit on Mizzou players and used the N-word. Which led WBB fans everywhere to wonder about how that happens when the visitors have more white starters than most SEC teams. The Mizzou athletic director, who attended the game ripped Staley for promoting a bad atmosphere.