GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) Kayla Wells had 16 points while Alexis Morris added 13 off the bench as No. 2 Texas A&M opened the SEC Tournament with a 77-58 victory over LSU on Friday.
The Aggies (23-1), who won their first league regular-season title this past Sunday, advanced to the tournament semifinals for the fourth time in the past five years. They’ll face either No. 16 Georgia or No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday.
Facing LSU (9-13) to start tournament play had to be a scary prospect for Texas A&M. Its only loss this season came to the Tigers 65-61 in overtime in January. LSU also limited Aggies to their lowest point total of the season despite losing 54-41 in the rematch last month.
And it took until right before halftime for Texas A&M, helped by Wells and Morris, to find its offense to put away the Tigers.
Leading 24-22 with 1:54 left in the second quarter, Wells and Morris had four points apiece for a 32-26 Aggies edge at the break.
Wells and Morris were at it again in the third period. Wells had five points and Morris seven as the Aggies pushed the margin to 49-38.
LSU could not respond and failed to advance past the quarterfinals for the sixth straight season.
Khayla Pointer had 26 points to lead the Tigers.
Texas A&M, which hadn’t played since wrapping up the title with a 66-57 win over No. 7 South Carolina, struggled to find its offense early on.
LSU’s defense gave Texas A&M fits for much of the first two quarters. The Aggies had a 1-of-10 stretch shooting and looked out of rhythm.
The Aggies relied on aggressive defense and offense to do damage to LSU. They limited the Tigers to just 10-of-36 shooting (28%) the first 20 minutes and successfully got the line when their shots wouldn’t fall, making 9 of 10 free throws.
Morris, the Rutgers transfer, had an impact for Texas A&M as leading scorer Aaliyah Wilson finished with just two points. Wilson had a career-high 15 rebounds, though.
Ciera Johnson, Jordan Nixon and N’dea Jones had 12 points each for the Aggies.
RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
- Texas A&M continues its run through SEC opponents, now boasting a 23-1 overall record and advancing to the SEC Tournament Semifinals. The Aggies are the winners of 11-consecutive games.
- LSU concludes its run in the SEC Tournament with a 1-1 result and now has a 9-13 overall record.
- The Maroon & White even the all-time series against LSU at 16-16 dating back to the 1979-80 season.
- With the win, Texas A&M boasts its best record through 24 games in program history with a 23-1 mark.
- A&M is now 11-7 all-time in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and boasts a 7-2 record in opening rounds since joining the league in 2012-13.
- This will be A&M’s sixth SEC Tournament Semifinal appearance in nine seasons.
- The Maroon & White had five players in double figures for the first time since Feb. 25 on the road at Alabama.
- A&M’s 19-point margin of victory is its largest win in the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament since an 82-52 win over Arkansas in the First Round of the 2018 tournament.
- The opening stanza moved slowly, but multiple successful trips to the free-throw line afforded A&M a 13-12 lead heading into the second quarter.
- Texas A&M utilized an 15-5 run at the end of the first quarter, and a pair of Alexis Morris layups at the end of the second, to take a 32-26 lead at halftime.
- A&M’s stalwart defense and up-tempo offense saw the Aggies maintain a 7-0 run starting at the 3:54 mark of the third quarter, driving the team’s lead to 50-38.
- The Aggies opened the floodgates offensively in the second half, scoring 45 points on 58.6% shooting to finalize the 77-58 win.
- A&M enjoyed a lead of 10-or-more points for the 22nd time in 24 games this season.
- The Maroon & White dominated LSU down low in every statistical category, highlighted by a 40-14 margin with points in the paint.
- Rebounding was once again a calling card for A&M, as the Aggies solidified a 44-34 advantage on the glass.
- A&M called in reinforcements off the bench, with the Aggies defeating LSU 23-7 in scoring from the second unit.
- On the offensive end, Texas A&M shot an even 50% from the field to go along with a 33.3% clip from behind the 3-point line.
- Defensively, the Maroon & White held the Tigers to their second lowest field-goal percentage this season (28.1%).
- Texas A&M started its SEC Tournament Quarterfinal matchup with a lineup of Aaliyah Wilson, Jordan Nixon, Kayla Wells, N’dea Jones and Ciera Johnson.
- A&M has started all 24 games this season with the same group.
- Aaliyah Wilson set a new career high in rebounds with 15, recording double-digit boards for the third time this season and the third time in her career.
- The Muskogee, Oklahoma, native’s previous career high was 10 rebounds, set twice this season, last on Feb. 7 against Arkansas.
- Wilson’s 15-rebound performance ties Kelsey Bone for second place in Texas A&M program history for rebounds in an SEC Tournament game. Bone finished with 15 rebounds against Kentucky in 2013, in which the Aggies went on to win the SEC Tournament Title.
- Ciera Johnson dominated in the post, logging 12 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes of action.
- Johnson dropped double digits in scoring for the 17th time this season and the 65th time in her career.
- The Duncanville, Texas, native finished with a game-high plus-21 plus/minus.
- Johnson also contributed a team-best three steals in the winning effort.
- Kayla Wells finished as Texas A&M’s leading scorer, recording 16 points along with a season-high-tying seven made free throw attempts.
- The Dallas native scored in double figures for the 14th time this season and 64th time in her career.
- Jordan Nixon finished with 12 points and two steals in 33 minutes of game time.
- The New York native scored in double figures for the 10th time this season and the 11th time in her career.
- The sophomore guard has scored in double-digits in five-consecutive games, dating back to the team’s win against Tennessee on Feb. 14. N’dea Jones registered 12 points with nine rebounds.
- The Lawrenceville, Georgia, native logged double figures in scoring for the 16th time this season and 45th time in her career.
- Jones sank her only 3-point attempt in the game, marking her first made 3-point basket since the Aggies win over Little Rock on Dec. 10.
- Alexis Morris served as the team’s sparkplug off the bench, scoring 13 points on an astronomical 83.3% shooting in only eight minutes of play.
- Morris logged double figures in points for the fifth time this year and 19th time in her career.
- Women’s Basketball Hall-of Famer Gary Blair improves to 836-331 in his career as a head coach and is now 428-168 during his time in Aggieland.