COLUMBIA, Mo.--Courtney Walker scored 21 points and grabbed 9 rebounds to lead No. 17 Texas A&M to its ninth straight win, 62-57 over Missouri Thursday night at Mizzou Arena.
The Aggies remain undefeated in SEC play, and have not lost since Dec. 22.
Missouri, who ranked second in the nation in 3-pointers made entering the game, hit seven 3-pointers in the first half, closing the period on a 10-2 run to take a 33-31 lead into the break.
Texas A&M responded quick to their first halftime deficit since Dec. 22, starting the half on a 16-6 run to take a 47-39 lead. The Aggies, showing off their second-ranked 3-point field goal defense, held the Tigers without a 3-pointer for the entire second half.
Courtney Walker, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, had her third 20+ point outing of the season and scored double figures for the fifth straight game. Walker also had nine rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end.
Courtney Williams was the only other Aggie in double figures, scoring 14 points.
The Aggies return home on Sunday, January 26 to host No. 11 Tennessee in a game nationally televised by ESPN2 at 3 p.m.
Texas A&M Coach Gary Blair
"Sticking with their game plan: shoot 3s and shoot them well. In the second half, we did a better job of getting out there instead of running into screens. They were setting a lot of double-screens. We'd get by the first one and then we'd run right into the second one. I think sometimes when you completely rely on that 3, you can win a lot of ballgames that way because I don't have a lot of 3-point shooters; so what we want to do is shoot less 3s, but against the zone sometimes you have to shoot. That's more than we usually shoot: 15. We were wanting to put a lot of attention on Kulas. Seven turnovers, 11 rebounds, five out of the ten, she's just a great player - one of the best in our league. But we made her work for it. A couple times in the second half she'd have a travel or something under there. Missed a couple bunnies that I know she'd love to have back. Walker had her for a while, Scott had her for awhile and nobody had her for awhile, too. Morgan Eye, what a catch-and-shoot person. That's your next Ray Allen type of kid. You can play Division I college basketball if you can catch and shoot and play adequate defense and she represent y'all very well; did a great job. But then give our defense some credit in the second half because I think we did a few things to hurt them. I could not play my bigs against y'all. It's like guarding a five-guard offense and we got hurt a couple of times when I had to put Williams or somebody on 22 (Jordan Frericks) and she stung us a couple of times but I had to go to what it took to win the game. As a result, we lose the rebounding battle that way. But it was a good college basketball game. Robin (Pingeton) is doing a great job with her team there. I think you have a bona-fide first team All-SEC player in Kulas and the Eye kid isn't too far behind her. I give a lot of credit to Missouri; they're going through a tough stretch: seven out of eight ranked teams that they've played. But this is the SEC. We're not in the Big 12 anymore. You play against Olympians and All-Americans everyday in every sport.
On getting to the free throw line in the second half...
"Another thing in the second half - we got to the free throw line 12 times and zero in the first half. We started attacking. We started running a double-high thing and turning the ball back to Williams at the high or somebody or to Walker at the high and we created a little bit of offense that way. It was a mix-and-match. We ran in-bounds plays we screwed them up every time because I had so many guards in there that they didn't know what to do."
Texas A&M Sophomore Guard Courtney Walker
On what they did differently defensively in the second half...
"We really did the same thing as the first half except we did no-catch on Morgan Eye because she's such a quick catch-and-shoot that any type of help is a shot and a make. There was no-help, no-catch on her at all opposed to the first half where we were just tight on everyone and just small help and get back. I think that really helped, her not getting touches. We really had to adjust, like (Coach) said. We had the guards on Kulas so they started posting her and we were tagging her with the screens so they would run her off of the screens behind her and we would post her up so then we had to work to get back in front. I think we did well and I think she only scored on that one or two times. We did a good job in the second half of adjusting to what they were doing."
On how her game has changed this year compared to last...
"Last year we had all of the upperclassmen that we started with and they carried us as far as leadership goes. This year we're all about the same age and the people that are upperclassmen just got here this year transferring. I think it's a lot more pressure on us as far as who are we going to look up to because it's us. But I think we're doing a good job of looking to each other and relying on each other to take the pressure off of ourselves."
Texas A&M Redshirt Freshman Guard Curtyce Knox
On how comfortable their team is starting to feel in the closer games...
"We're really getting comfortable. It would be nice if we could just pull away in some games and finish plays but I think at the end of the game it's just about the little things: blocking out and finishing the plays."