No. 16 A&M Downs Mizzou, 77-58
COLLEGE STATION-Adrienne Pratcher and Peyton Little led a devastating three-point barrage by Texas A&M, leading the 16th-ranked Aggies to a 77-58 win over Missouri Sunday afternoon before 5,785 fans at Reed Arena.
Little and Pratcher combined to go 11-of-17 from behind the arc and scored a combined 35 points on the day, while All-America candidate Kelsey Bone registered her SEC-leading 10th double-double of the year with 16 points and 10 boards.
"Pratcher's been on a roll since conference started," Head Coach Gary Blair said following the win. "It was good to see Peyton come in and hit multiple threes. She usually hits one a game. It's good to see her be able to get into the flow. That's what we're going to have to have."
A&M (16-5, 6-1 SEC) won its fourth straight overall, 10th in a row at home and maintained hold on second place in the league standings. Overall, the Aggies set an arena record and tied a school record with 12 threes on the afternoon.
Texas A&M set the tone for the day very early, racing out to an 8-0 lead in the first 80 seconds of the game behind two Pratcher threes, forcing a Missouri timeout.
The Tigers (13-8, 2-5) clawed back into the game, pulling within one with 13:36 to go before halftime, but the Aggies responded with a 26-2 run over the next eight and a half minutes-a run which included five treys and forced Mizzou to burn three timeouts.
In perhaps the strongest team showing of the year, the Aggies registered a season-high 26 assists on 29 made buckets.
Missouri, who entered the game as the nation's second-best three-point shooting team, were stifled by the Aggie defensive effort, going 1-for-9 from behind the arc in the first half and shot just 29 percent from long distance for the game.
"I think we were switching again, Coach Starkey had a very good game plan," Blair added when asked about the defensive effort today. "It's not that we are forcing turnovers off of the press, it's we want to set the tempo and make them play faster than they want to."
Kristi Bellock was the fourth Texas A&M player in double figures, scoring 10 on 4-of-6 shooting.
Mizzou was led by Bri Kulas' 12 point, 4-rebound day.
The victory was another dominating one in league play for Texas A&M, which has beaten opponents by an average of 26 points in its six SEC wins.
The Aggies return to the court Thursday night when the Aggies host Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to take pictures with the 2012 Heisman Trophy, won by Johnny Manziel. The game will be televised by FOX Sports South/Southwest.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME QUOTES
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
"The kids played very well. That's about as well as we've shot the ball in the first half. We're seeing more and more zone. If you're going to take Kelsey away we have other players that can score. Pratcher's been on a roll since conference started. It was good to see Peyton come in and hit multiple threes. She usually hits one a game. It's good to see her be able to get into the flow. That's what we're going to have to have. We have to have a zone buster in there. I thought we played extremely well in the first half. It's tough when we have parents day because I get about three minutes with them at the half. Sometimes it's not us. It's what Missouri was doing. Missouri played very well in the second half. Give them a lot of credit. This is about the sixth game in a row that we have shot over 50%. The second half wasn't pretty but I got a lot of kids some playing time. Those kids have worked hard and in the last two games I've been able to get all of them playing time because it's going to tighten up the rotation for when Vanderbilt comes in here. I'm happy with my team."
On the defense:
"I think we were switching again. Coach Starkey had a very good gameplan. It's not that we are forcing turnovers off of the press, it's we want to set the tempo and make them play faster than they want to. That little point guard of theirs was pretty dog-gone quick. I thought she did an outstanding job for them. We contested shots. They didn't get that many open looks until the second half. In the second half, everyone was open. When you play 13 players in the second half that's what you're going to get on the defensive end. They lead the SEC in three point percentage. I thought our defense was good. In the first half I think they had one offensive board. That says a lot about our defense."
On Vanderbilt coming in:
"Missouri is not one of those top-20 teams. We're going to see some better zones and some better man. Missouri has a lot of young kids out there. They graduated both of their post players from last year. Missouri is going to be better next year than they are this year. We'll go on the road and find out how good we are. We've won three out of four on the road due to the tremendous schedule we've inherited. Our goal is to go out and win every game and Vanderbilt coming in scares me like Kansas State scared me when they used to come in here. They're a team full of shooters."
TEXAS A&M GUARD PEYTON LITTLE
On the three point shooting:
"Kelsey draws a lot of attention on the inside. I was camping out on the outside waiting for her if there's a double team. She was able to find me and I was able to knock down the shots."
On playing with Kelsey Bone:
"It's very nice. I've never played with a big time post player like Kelsey. She draws a lot of attention especially when they're playing zone. The outside tends to be more open. She does a good job of kicking it to a perimeter player and we're able to hit shots."
TEXAS A&M GUARD ADRIENNE PRATCHER
On the three point shooting:
"The three point shooting was good tonight. I'm not sure of our percentage but once we got going with the three I think we started looking for them more in our offensive sets. They were playing zone and sinking in on the post players. The post players did a good job of finding the perimeter players and the perimeter players did a good job of knocking those threes down.
On the zone:
"This is the most zone we've faced since coming from the Big 12 and I think a big part of that is our post play. Our post play this season has been outstanding. The purpose of the zone is to shut down the inside but when we have perimeter players knocking down shots I don't know how teams will try and defend us."
MISSOURI HEAD COACH ROBIN PINGETON
On the gameplan:
"We talked a lot about a game of percentages about the way we were going to defend A&M. I certainly have so much respect for the program and for Gary. Bone is such a special player so she was attracting a lot of our attention. The gameplan was not to give up so many threes. We knew they had a couple of kids who could shoot the three ball very well. I felt like it was more of a breakdown on communication and our rotations. I didn't think we had the sense of urgency to find their shooters. I think Bone takes up so much attention. We just had breakdowns in our rotations."
"I thought we had a tough time knocking down shots in general. A&M plays such good defense and really pressured us. Anytime you have 17 turnovers it's going to be a tough night for you. I felt like we made some adjustments in the second half. Our kids got a little more aggressive. I was pleased with Darian Saunders our freshman post player. She came in and went against one of, if not the best post player in the league. It wasn't perfect but she competed. She wasn't playing on here heels. She played pretty aggressive. It's been a challenge for us when playing against these top caliber teams, to understand the poise you have to take the court with. We had some open shots early but I thought we rushed them. That's a credit to the competition that we're playing, no doubt about it."
On Texas A&M:
"I have a ton of respect for Gary and Texas A&M. You guys are first class. I love the support that women's basketball gets. Your program is two years removed from winning a national championship and last year you advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. You guys have it going on here. This is what we hope to build our program to in the future. You guys do it the right way."