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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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Following the formula

Aggies dominate paint in 61-44 win over Kentucky
Junior+forward+Lauren+Ware+reaches+towards+the+refs+during+Texas+A%26Ms+game+against+Mississippi+State+on+Feb.+4%2C+2024%2C+at+Reed+Arena.+%28Adriano+Espinosa%2F+The+Battalion%29
Photo by Photo by Adriano Espinosa
Junior forward Lauren Ware reaches towards the refs during Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Feb. 4, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Adriano Espinosa/ The Battalion)

For the first time in Joni Taylor’s tenure as coach, Texas A&M women’s basketball was able to pick up back-to-back SEC road wins after a 61-44 win over Kentucky on Feb. 11 in Lexington, Kentucky.

And they did it by following the same formula Taylor has laid out throughout the year: points in the paint, rebounds and defense.

Pounding the Paint

A whopping 43 of A&M’s 61 points came in the paint, and it began with junior forward Lauren Ware making her presence felt early.

The 6’5 Ware was able to utilize her size advantage early to put up a trio of paint buckets midway through the first quarter. That’s when the Wildcats utilized the same strategy other SEC opponents have used to contain Ware this season — if you can’t out-muscle her in the paint, get her in foul trouble.

Ware picked up her second foul with 3:13 left in the first quarter and was subbed out of the game. That’s where the trouble began for the A&M offense.

In the second quarter, A&M shot 3-19 from the field, leading to a 24-24 halftime score. Luckily for the Aggie fans in attendance, the Kentucky comeback was not to be as the Aggies ended the third quarter on a 17-2 run that saw the rest of the A&M offense, including sophomore F Janiah Barker and senior guard Aicha Coulibaly — who each had 8 points in the third quarter alone — step up.

The double-digit lead was too much for Kentucky to overcome on a day when it could not muster much offense.

Defensive Dominance

Kentucky averages 67.5 points per game, largely due to senior F Ajae Petty, who averages 14.6 points a game alone.

Shutting down Petty and forcing the Wildcats into poor shot selection is why A&M was able to hold each of them to 44 points and 11, respectively.

Ware spending most of the middle portion of the game on the bench due to foul trouble should have been the golden opportunity for Petty — who at 6’3 suddenly became the largest player on the floor.

But the A&M defense was able to double-team Petty to make up for the lack of a size advantage over the Wildcats’ leading scorer. That forced Kentucky into taking shots from the perimeter, which was not ideal in a game where they shot 30% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats finished the night with a mere 14 points in the paint, which can partially be credited to the Aggies’ effort in the third phase of Taylor’s formula: dominating the glass.

A&M out-rebounded Kentucky 43-25, and held the Wildcats to a mere six offensive rebounds and 6 second-chance points — eliminating the last statistical opportunity for Kentucky to overcome their poor shooting day.

After back-to-back road wins, A&M returns home to face Vanderbilt on Feb. 15, where it’ll look to solidify its NCAA Tournament resume and move its win streak to three games for the first time since December.

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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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