Wells, No. 5 Texas A&M pull away from Ole Miss, 66-55
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The Texas A&M Aggies took over the game when they had to.
Kayla Wells had 18 points and nine rebounds and No. 5 Texas A&M rode a dominant fourth quarter to a 66-55 victory over Mississippi on Sunday.
The Aggies (20-1, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) won their eighth straight game, but the Rebels (9-9, 3-11) kept it competitive into the fourth, trailing just 44-39. Then it was all Texas A&M.
’'I just feel like we really know how to finish the game now,’' Wells said. ’'We’ve done it time after time. And it’s almost like something that we have to do. It’s almost mandatory.’'
Already off to the program’s best start through 20 games, the Aggies secured their 16th consecutive season with at least 20 wins.
Wells only shot 5 of 16 from the floor but made 7 of 8 free throws. Aaliyah Wilson had a huge all-around game. Wilson had 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists and six steals.
Jordan Nixon scored nine of her 11 points in the fourth quarter when Texas A&M led by as many as 15.
Ciera Johnson only scored five points but the last one hit the career 1,000-point milestone.
Shakira Austin got her fifth straight double double to lead Ole Miss, the first Rebels player to do that in SEC games since Armintie Price in 2007. She had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Taylor Smith had 12 points on 3-of-6 3-pointers. The rest of the team made 1 of 9 attempts from 3-point range. Madison Scott finished with 10 points.
Zaay Green and Jordan Nixon helped turn it into a comfortable win.
Green hit the Aggies’ first three baskets of the fourth - and her first three in the game.
’'She hadn’t forgotten how to play ball,’' Blair said. ’'She just needed more opportunities. But as well as Wilson and (Destiny) Pitts and Wells have been playing, sometimes you’ve got to earn those opportunities or wait for those opportunities.
’'She knew exactly what to do when she came into the ball game.’'
Then Nixon hit three straight layups and a free throw in a quick nine-point Texas A&M flurry, over a span of just 1:49.
Johnson’s putback with 2 seconds left in the third quarter gave Texas A&M a 44-39 lead after the Rebels had erased most of a 10-point deficit.
The momentum carried over into the fourth.
’'There was a stretch where A&M showed their maturity in the fourth quarter and just pulled away from us,’' Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. ’'And we didn’t answer the call.’'
Texas A&M: Had to rebound from a slow start after missing all five 3-point attempts and four of six free throw attempts in the opening quarter. The defense remained strong, helping the Aggies build a 26-23 halftime edge. Ole Miss: Made just 5 of 14 shots in the fourth quarter, but showed plenty of resilience until then. Won the rebounding battle 43-34.
RARE ROAD TRIP
It was Texas A&M’s first road game since a visit to Auburn on Jan. 28.
’'It definitely felt different,’' Wells said. ’'It’s been a really long time since we’ve been on a plane or been on a bus on the way to some place. ’'
RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
· Texas A&M climbs to 20-1 with an 11-1 record in Southeastern Conference play.
· Ole Miss drops to 9-9 overall with a 3-9 mark against SEC opponents.
· The Aggies improve to 9-3 in the all-time series against the Rebels and 4-1 in Oxford.
· The Aggies are now tied for the most wins in the country (20) with No. 3 Louisville and No. 6 Stanford.
· The Maroon & White is the only team in the top 10 with just one loss.
· The Aggies have recorded 20 victories in 16-consecutive seasons.
· A&M has now won eight-straight games, dating back to its lone loss of the year in overtime at LSU.
· Texas A&M held the Rebels to their lowest point total (55) of the entire season.
· The Aggies once again enjoyed a 10-point lead against their opponent, marking the 18th game that they have built a double-digit cushion.
· A&M improved its shooting from 29.6% in the first half to 48.4% in the second.
· The Aggies recorded nine turnovers against the Rebels, which is only the fourth time this season they have committed less than 10 turnovers in a ballgame.
· The A&M defense forced 18 turnovers and scored 16 points off the Rebel mistakes.
· The Aggies are 8-1 on the road this season, their most away wins since the 2018-19 campaign.
· Texas A&M started its 21st consecutive game of the season with a lineup of Aaliyah Wilson, Jordan Nixon, Kayla Wells, N’dea Jones and Ciera Johnson.
· Kayla Wells led the team in scoring with 18 points. She has now scored in double-digits six-straight games.
· Wells posted a career-high nine rebounds, and led the team on the glass for the first time this year. She also committed zero turnovers and had a season-high two blocks.
· The Dallas, Texas, native notched her 11th double-digit scoring effort of the season and 61st such performance of her career.
· Ciera Johnson became the 33rd member of the 1,000-point club at A&M after sinking a free-throw in the fourth quarter.
· Jordan Nixon scored all of her 11 points in the second half, nine of which came in the fourth quarter.
· Aaliyah Wilson finished with 10 points, dropping double digits in points for the 16th time in the 2020-21 campaign and 35th time in her career.
· Wilson matched her career-high with six assists and grabbed seven rebounds.
· The Muskogee, Oklahoma, native also tied her career-high with six steals.
· Zaay Green added a crucial six points off the bench in the fourth quarter, going 3-of-4 in the period.
· Destiny Pitts nailed three more 3-pointers, bring her season total to 42.
· Pitts led the bench scoring for the Aggies with nine points.
· Head coach Gary Blair sees his career record improve to 833-331 overall with a 425-168 mark since taking the helm at Texas A&M in 2003-04.
Texas A&M remains on the road this week for its final road trip of the regular season, traveling to Alabama on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.
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