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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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Takeaways from Joni Taylor’s Auburn press conference

Photo by Kaili Gaston

Freshman F Janiah Barker (2) dribbles to the basket during Texas A&M’s game against LSU at Reed Arena on Sunday, Feb. 05, 2023.

The Texas A&M women’s basketball team will hit the road once again to take on Auburn at Neville Arena on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. At Tuesday’s press conference, coach Joni Taylor discussed the Aggies’ tilt with the Tigers, the squad’s modest improvements and their struggles playing away from College Station.
Getting better, slowly but surely
In its last time out on Feb. 12, A&M fell to Mississippi State on the road, 70-62. The game was well within reach for the Aggies, who trailed by just two with 4:46 left in the fourth quarter. However, the maroon and white failed to score on their next six possessions as the Bulldogs claimed the victory.
“Sunday was disappointing,” Taylor said. “Mississippi State’s a really good team, and credit to them, they finished the game out, but how we started was disappointing, and how we finished was disappointing. [The players] have to understand you’ve got to put a full game together … Glad we were able to fight back and show some good moments.”
While the result isn’t what the players, coaches and fans wanted, it’s A&M’s fourth consecutive loss by single digits, dating back to an 88-79 defeat by Vanderbilt on Jan. 29. In contrast, the Aggies dropped five of their first six conference games by double digits. There’s hope within the program that this could be a sign of improvement in the final stretch of the season.
“I’m glad to be in this position, but at the same time we’ve got to continue to take the next step, and I think the next step is figuring out how to close that game out on the road,” Taylor said.
Road woes
A&M has yet to secure a victory away from home this season, going a rough 0-9 in away matchups this campaign. There’s no rest for the weary, though, as the Aggies will travel to Auburn, Ala. for their fourth road matchup in five games.
“You look at an Auburn team who plays really well at home, they’ve won a lot lately,” Taylor said. “We’re going to get pressured all night long on the road in a tough environment, so that’s part of, again, going through, but being able to handle situations like that.”
The Tigers are 11-5 within their friendly confines this season, but have lost their last three games overall, including a 54-51 loss to Arkansas and an 83-48 thumping by No. 1 South Carolina at home. Thursday could present an opportunity to catch Auburn while it’s down.
“I can’t say that it’s been a certain thing that ‘Oh goodness, we don’t play well on the road,’” Taylor said. “I can’t say that there’s been a common thing, I think overall, we’ve got to learn how to win, we’ve got to learn how to be locked in all the time. We’re not a team that can turn it on and turn it off.”
Staying mentally strong
With the departure of Hall of Fame coach Gary Blair, there was an understanding that the 2022-23 season would be one of rebuilding for Taylor’s crew. The coach has repeated that the theme for this year is “Becoming.” But win or lose, a 28-game campaign can take its toll and emotionally drain a team, especially with other factors at play, such as injuries, in the Aggies’ case. A&M was forced to operate with just seven healthy players for the first seven games of SEC action.
“What we talk about there is everybody’s doing the same thing,” Taylor said. “We’re not special, you know. Everybody’s tired, everybody’s mentally fatigued, everybody’s physically fatigued. It’s a long season, but everybody else’s is too. It comes down to toughness and resiliency, and who wants it.”
The Aggies are nearing the finish line, with matchups against Missouri, Kentucky and at Arkansas. A&M is also guaranteed a spot in the SEC Tournament in Greenville, S.C.
“You look at the games we have remaining on our schedule, and we have an opportunity to do some really special things if we’ll lock in and be committed to do that,” Taylor said.

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