It was another Play for Kay day, and Bama's home pink unis were the solid pinks, so the Ags wore the white with pink trim versions that we had against LSU. 2,359 fans attended the promo game, which was the first time since joining the SEC that the Ags have played in Foster Auditorium. Bama, like Kentucky, relegates its WBB team to a different and older venue from the one used by the men. Foster only holds 3,800, and from the pictures it looks like a high school gym, where the sideline stands are retractable bleachers and an upper tier above a high wall that surrounds the court area. I wonder if the girls got a history lesson about Foster; it's the place where George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door to block integration at the University of Alabama.
Coach Blair made some unexpected changes, starting Tori Scott for Achiri Ade and coming out in a zone defense. Bama kept it close for the first few minutes and led by 1 at 9-8 after Nikki Hegstetter made the free throw on a 3-pt play. But A&M was already scoring easily and turned up the defensive pressure by going back to man-to-man. The Ags outscored the Tide 29-13 for the rest of the half to lead by 15 at the break. The Ags lead was large enough to allow Blair to play a lot of the bench in the first half. A&M outscored Bama 30-12 in the paint and 8-0 off turnovers.
The second half was more of the same. The Ags largest lead was 28 and the closest Bama came was 13 shortly after the half began. For the game, Karla Gilbert led the Ags with 15 points in 22 minutes. The CW network each had 12 points. 9 other Ags scored, and the team shot 53.3% for the game. A&M only attempted 1 3 pointer. It missed. Jordan Jones had 10 assists, including an astonishingly good long pass to Williams on a fast break.
Bama was held to 28.6% shooting. The A&M D especially frustrated Daisha Simmons, who had 20 in the previous meeting. Simmons managed to get 10 points before fouling out in the second half, but it took 4-18 FGs and 2-3 FTs to get there The Ags also forced her into 4 turnovers. Overall, Bama was 1-11 from behind the arc. Bama's best players on the day were freshman Ashley Williams (19 pts and 9 boards) and sophomore Hegstetter (9 pts, on 4-8 shooting and a FT, plus 6 boards).
The win gave A&M 20 wins for the 9th straight time in Gary Blair's 11 seasons as head coach. Aggie WBB has a total of 4 other 20 win seasons before Blair arrived.
While the Ags were running away with the game in Tuscaloosa, Kentucky was visiting Knoxville. I confess to switching to that game pretty often while the rout at Bama was in progress, although I did switch back to the Ags often enough to see both Rachel Mitchell and Jada Terry score. The Vols and Cats were close throughout the game, with the largest leads by each side being 8 for UK and 5 for Tenn. Tennessee was up 3 with 3:57 to go, but UK pulled ahead by 4 with 35 seconds left. Tennessee cut it to two and got the ball with 13 seconds left, giving the Vols a chance to tie the game or win with a 3 point play or shot. But the play to Isabelle Harrison resulted in a turnover and Kentucky escaped with a win. This was their first win at Tennessee since 1985, before the current arena was built.
A short while after that game ended, S. Carolina tipped off against LSU. The Lady Geauxtigers kept it close for a while but the Lady Gamecocks pulled away with a run to end the first half, and held off LSU in the second. This was the first USCe WBB win in Baton Rouge since 1994.
Aside from the breaking of historical streaks, these two games meant that S. Carolina held onto sole possession of the SEC lead, but Tennessee fell out of a tie for second with the Ags. If S. Carolina stumbles into a tie with A&M, the Ags hold the tiebreaker thanks to the OT win in January. USCe still has to play @UK, Florida, Georgia, and @Tenn. The Ags had @Miss, UK, Arkansas, and @Florida. Our chances for the regular season title went up.
The Ags go back on the road to play at Ole Miss on Thursday, returning to Reed to play Kentucky on Feb 23. I'm going to be out of town for both games (and the GBH meetup before the MBB game). I'm bummed that I'm going to be on a plane for the Ky game. So, while I will try to post a bit from the road, no promises on recaps.
Ole Miss will be at 6PM on Feb 20 in Oxford. Radio only as far as I can tell.
Ole Miss is last in the SEC with their only win being in OT at home vs. Vic Schaeffer's Miss State team the game after we demolished the Hail Staters at Reed. The Rebel Black Bearettes are actually 6th in the SEC in scoring (A&M is 10th), which is interesting because they are also dead last in FG%. They're next to last in FG% defense and dead last in scoring defense, having surrendered 90+ in 4 conference games. They claim to be averaging 1732 in attendance, but only had 1102 for MSU, 882 for Tennessee and 532 for Florida. Coach Blair said he's expecting a small crowd.
Ole Miss starts a 6-4 freshman Shequila Joseph, but their top scorers are 6-1 Jr Tia Faleru, 5-4 Sr PG Valencia McFarland, and 5-7 Sr G Diara Hill. Like Alabama, Ole Miss is in the first year with a new coach, Matt Insell, who came from Kentucky.