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Aggie women's basketball team hits the road for a pair of games this week

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It's fitting that on Thursday the Texas A&M women's basketball team is playing in Missouri.

The "Show Me State."

"If we're supposed to be who we think we are, then you've got to go win the road games you are supposed to win," A&M head coach Gary Blair said. "We've got a couple coming up, then the schedule comes our way where we've got four out of six at home, but first we have to get past these two games."

The 14th-ranked Aggies (17-5, 5-3) will play at Missouri (12-10, 2-7) at 8 p.m. Thursday then at 17th-ranked Mississippi State (22-3, 7-3) on Sunday.

The Aggies are among five Southeastern Conference teams trying to grab third place behind unbeaten co-leaders South Carolina (21-0, 9-0) and Tennessee (19-3, 9-0). Only a game separates A&M from MSU, 11th-ranked Kentucky (17-5, 6-3), LSU (12-9, 6-3) and 22nd-ranked Georgia (5-4) with less than a month left in the regular season.

"What we've got to do is worry about Texas A&M with these two tough road games coming up," Blair said on KZNE's My Aggie Nation.

A&M is unbeaten at home this season but has played only one ranked opponent at home -- Duke in nonconference. The Aggies rallied to beat Duke, which did not have All-American Elizabeth Williams that.

Away from Reed Arena, A&M is 1-4 against ranked opponents this season. The Aggies won at DePaul to open the season but have lost the next four, including three in league play to sixth-ranked Tennessee, Georgia and top-ranked South Carolina. Sunday's game at MSU looms large for pecking order in the upcoming SEC tournament and possible seeding in the NCAA tournament.

And then there's bragging rights. Sunday's game will also be the third time former A&M assistant Vic Schaefer has faced the Aggies since taking over at MSU. The Bulldogs have the luxury of no midweek game this time around, while Blair said all his attention is on Missouri, a matchup that reminds him of going to the dentist for a root canal.

"They are one of the smartest basketball teams in the league," Blair said. "They remind me a lot of Arkansas, not a lot of depth, but everyone plays in the system pretty well. They just do not beat themselves."

Missouri relies on 3-point shooting, much like Vanderbilt and Kansas State, other teams that have given A&M problems over the years.

"They've shot 523 of 'em," Blair said. "They just shoot the heck out of the 3-ball. And then when you start overplaying the 3-ball, they hurt you with back-door plays, and that's where they are very efficient."

Missouri was only 3-of-19 shooting 3-pointers in Monday's game at LSU, but the Tigers had a 34-14 scoring edge in the paint, helping them rally from a 20-point deficit in the second half to take a late lead. LSU regrouped for a 74-65 victory.

"That means they were getting a lot of layups off offensive rebounds or back-door plays," Blair said.

Missouri typically plays four guards along with 6-foot-1 sophomore Jordan Frericks, who is listed as a guard/forward but plays all over the court, Blair said.

A&M expects to go with a smaller lineup often, which means playing 6-foot-1 junior forward Courtney Williams at power forward. Williams struggled mightily last week in the 79-61 loss at South Carolina, missing 18 of 21 shots. She rebounded to hit 10 of 18 in Sunday's 78-45 victory over Auburn.

"She's gotta have a double-double," Blair said. "I need rebounding from her, and she's got to get to the free-throw line."

NOTES -- A&M is second in the nation defending 3-pointers, holding opponents to 22.6 percent (75 of 332). ... A&M leads the series against Missouri 14-7, winning the last 11 straight.


No. 14 Texas A&M (17-5, 5-3 in SEC) at Missouri (12-10, 2-7)

8 p.m. Thursday, Mizzou Arena (15,061)

TV/Radio: SEC Network, Ch. 26/KZNE, 1150 AM


TEXAS A&M (16-5, 4-3)

G Jordan Jones 5-6 Jr. 9.4 6.8 *

G Courtney Walker 5-8 Jr.14.3 3.5

F Achiri Ade 6-1 Sr. 6.5 8.3

F Courtney Williams 6-1 Jr. 14.5 5.9

P Khaalia Hillsman 6-5 Fr. 4.3 3.5

MISSOURI (12-10, 2-7)

G Lindsey Cunningham 6-0 So. 3.2 3.0

G Sierra Michaels 5-10 So. 9.6 4.6

G Morgan Eye 5-9 Sr. 9.7 4.6

G Bree Fowler 5-9 Sr. 3.9 3.4

F Jordan Frericks 6-1 So. 13.5 9.9

*assists per game

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