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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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5 things to watch for in the NCAA Tournament

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Photo by Abbey Santoro

Seniors Ciera Johnson and N’dea Jones are expected to start in their 89th consecutive games as A&M takes on Troy in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 22. 

For the 15th season with coach Gary Blair at the helm, Texas A&M women’s basketball will compete for a national title in the NCAA Tournament. Heading into the tournament as a No. 2 seed for the fifth time in program history, a Sweet Sixteen matchup against Arizona and an Elite Eight matchup with NC State are probable if A&M handles its business in the Round of 64 and 32. Here are five things to look for during the Aggies’ NCAA Tournament journey:

N’dea Jones

A&M’s only first-team All-SEC pick this season, senior forward N’dea Jones leads the team in rebounds and recently broke the program record for career double-doubles. She comes up big for the Aggies in important moments, and her 16-point, 14-rebound performance against South Carolina for the SEC regular season championship is proof of that. Expect to see Jones crashing to the glass at every opportunity to give A&M second chances throughout the tournament.

Tempo off the bench

For many NCAA Tournament teams, a starter getting into foul trouble means slowing down as they sit out for a few minutes. But with bench players like senior guard Destiny Pitts and junior guards Alexis Morris and Zaay Green, A&M does the opposite. Pitts, who shoots 47 percent from the three-point line, offers a quick boost to the stat sheet and has a made three-pointer in all but three of A&M’s games this season. Both Morris and Green average around nine minutes per game and bring offensive efficiency shooting 52 percent and 40 percent from the floor, respectively.

Senior leadership

Jones, senior guard Kayla Wells and senior center Ciera Johnson are expected to start in their 89th consecutive game on March 22 against No. 15 seed Troy. Having missed out on the chance to play in the tournament last season due to COVID-19, the trio may carry with them the most cohesive experience in the tournament after having made it to the Sweet Sixteen in 2019. Jones, Johnson and Wells average a combined 34 points per game this season and will make it hard for any defense to stop A&M from jump ball to the final buzzer.

Jordan Nixon

Leading A&M at point guard this season is sophomore Jordan Nixon. Nixon averages 9.5 points per game in her first season playing with the Aggies after redshirting last season, and she currently maintains a six game double-digit scoring streak. Two last-second daggers in close games against a sharpshooting Arkansas team in SEC play prove Nixon is the clutch player that Blair will look to in the difficult situations to come.

Balance

Despite their regular season conference championship, A&M isn’t a flashy team full of players that will make highlight reels. What A&M will do, however, is smother teams with aggressive defense and dynamic scoring. The Aggies have players who can put up big numbers in the paint with Jones and Johnson, and from the perimeter with Pitts and Wells. Blair has crafted his team with an arsenal of players that he can rely on in any gametime situation that comes his way. A&M has options all over the floor which will make them a dangerous team to face with the NCAA Championship on the line.

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