TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- No. 14 Texas A&M cruised past Alabama with a 71-46 victory at Foster Auditorium, giving the Aggies their ninth straight 20+ win season.
A&M has posted 15 20+ win seasons in program history, and A&M head coach Gary Blair has coached teams to 23 20-win seasons in his career.
The Aggies’ offense was led by Jordan Jones, who dished out 10 assists to reach double figures for the fourth time this season. Jones also moved up to 9th on A&M’s single-season assist list with 167.
Karla Gilbert continued her recent stretch of strong play, leading the Aggies in scoring, putting in 15 points. Gilbert has reached double figures in scoring in six straight games.
A&M’s “Courtney’s”, Williams and Walker, each scored 12 points to join Gilbert in double figures.
The Aggies went on a 17-3 run midway through the first half, which gave the Aggies a 37-22 lead at the break. A&M shot 52.9% in the first half, while holding the Crimson Tide to 29.6% from the field.
Texas A&M (20-6, 10-2 SEC) dominated the second half, using 53.8% shooting to outscore the Crimson Tide 34-24 in the second half.
Alabama (11-14, 4-8 SEC) was led by Ashley Williams, who scored 19 points.
The Aggies take to the floor again on Feb. 20 at Ole Miss before returning home on Feb. 23 to host Kentucky at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
Texas A&M Head Coach Coach Gary Blair
“We came in with as much respect for Alabama as we do for anyone else in the SEC. When you can do what Kristy (Curry) has done in her first year, you’ve got to give the young lady some kudos. She’s going to get it done on the recruiting trail. (Ashley) Williams is a heck of a recruit. She’s definitely one of the top five freshmen in the league.
“I thought we did a pretty good job overall. We had shut you (Alabama) out on threes until the last one that (Shafontaye) Myers hit. That’s why we are in the top 10 in three-point percentage defense. We do it because we play man-to-man, where we open up in the zone. You (Alabama) missed a few, but then got good looks so we switched back to man coverage.
“I thought our shot selection by most of our starters were very good. It was good for (Courtney) Williams once the second half started. Sometimes she was shooting because she was open, and that’s what the defense wants sometimes, but if you look at the shooting percentage of our first five kids, it was pretty good.
“(Karla) Gilbert was a load in there. She could have gone for 30 tonight if I kept her in. We don’t see man-for-man; we see zone. This is the most man-for-man we’ve seen. It’s not that (Karla) Gilbert is Shaquille O’Neal or something, but she takes up three people converging on her and does a pretty good job with dumping the ball out. She only has one turnover in 22 minutes and 15 points. That’s pretty good. Normally when you triple or double team them, she travels a lot.
“We are going to take the win. I don’t know how good we are. We’ve played Georgia and LSU for the last two games, which both went down to the last second and we were lucky enough to play them both at home and won. Now we have to go to Ole Miss on Thursday. We’re going to take it just like we did with Alabama. We’re going to say I never won at Ole Miss in my 10 years at Arkansas, so I’ve got something to prove to myself that I can win a game in front of about 500 people because that’s all that is going to be there. We’re going to go win and play hard and see where the chips are. This is our 20th win. I feel good about basketball team. We keep finding ways. My sophomore guards out there are going to be pretty good by the time they are seniors.”
On limiting Shafontaye Myers and Daisha Simmons in scoring:
“That’s what you have to do. I had no idea that (Ashley) Williams was as good as she was. She didn’t play like that during the first game, but I have so much respect for (Shafontaye) Myers and (Daisha) Simmons. We paid a lot of attention to them. They missed some shots that they normally hit, but we came over with a lot of help and Simmons had to hit a lot of tough shots. I thought we did a pretty good job of not coming over and making those mistakes.
“I think Jordan Jones is the best defensive point guard in our league. I think she does a great job. The charge that she took and the other things she did against Alabama’s guards early, she did really well. This team was built with defense first, and that’s what Kristy (Curry) will do too. You have to build it with defense because the McDonald’s All Americans won’t come to you until you build a winning tradition. She knows the formula. She did it at Purdue. I had at A&M and Arkansas. She’s going to get people to come here. Tuscaloosa is a great place.”
On 12 Texas A&M players scoring:
“I have balance, and I have depth. When you win a national championship, people want to come to Alabama football and Texas A&M basketball. When I signed those six sophomores, and that No. 2 recruiting class, I still got five out of six. They are all perimeter players, and they are all good. That’s what happens. You have to build up depth and find kids who are willing to share. Kids come to Alabama because of tradition, and they come to A&M because of tradition, too.”