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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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An identity with a blueprint

Florida finds keys to victory against A&M
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Texas A&M forward Vanessa Saidu (11) and Texas A&M gaurd Sahara Jones (24) during Texas A&M’s game with South Carolina on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)

Texas A&M women’s basketball coach Joni Taylor has said throughout this season that the Aggies have a clear identity made up of three factors: defense, points in the paint and rebounding.

As A&M continued its yo-yo win-loss pattern in conference play, the Florida Gators provided a blueprint on how to beat an A&M team in a 63-51 loss to Florida in Gainesville, Florida even when the Aggies stuck to their identity.

Stopping the Aggie Defense

A&M managed to hold a Gator squad averaging 77 points per game to a mere 63 points. In theory, that’s a good showing. But a poor shooting start — 14% from the floor in the first quarter, and 19% in the first half — meant the Aggies had to climb out of a hole.

In the third quarter, A&M did climb out, taking a four-point lead thanks to a 13-0 run to start the second half. But that’s when the Gators found their secret ingredient on offense: Get the Aggies — especially junior forward Lauren Ware — in foul trouble.

Ware dominated the paint in the Aggies’ win over Missouri on Jan. 25. But with Ware picking up her fourth foul early in the third quarter, junior guard Tineya Hilton earning her fourth early in the final period and sophomore F Janiah Barker leaving the game late in the second quarter due to injury, the Aggies could not afford to foul and were able to give Florida a shot at keeping up with the Aggies’ points in the paint. Not to mention, the Gators also attempted 26 free throws, making 20.

A War in the Paint

Despite the poor shooting performance in the first half and Ware — who was coming off of a career-high 22 points in the win over Missouri — fouling out midway through the final quarter, A&M tied the Gators in points-in-the-paint 32-32.

But part of A&M’s shooting woes can be blamed on the Aggies’ shot selection. After the Aggies’ loss to South Carolina a week ago, Taylor said the Aggies should not be taking 22 3s a game like they did in that loss. A&M shot 21 against Florida, and made just five of them.

Battle for the Boards

On the boards, the Aggies were able to out-rebound the Gators 40-34. Not a bad showing on the road in a conference game for a team ranked 7th in the country in rebounds per game.

But that’s not the end of the story: A&M relies on offensive rebounding and points-in-the-paint to close the gap in games in which the Aggies don’t shoot well, such as the 31% A&M shot from the field against the Gators. And while the Aggies did have 17 offensive rebounds, they were only able to manage 8 second-chance points.

Yet another con of having Ware, the Aggies’ leading rebounder and paint threat get into foul trouble early.

After a weekday bye, the Aggies return to Reed Arena on Feb. 4 to host Mississippi State. And while the win-loss-win pattern says A&M is due for a conference win, the Bulldogs now have a blueprint to follow when they begin to prepare for their visit to Reed Arena.

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About the Contributor
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
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