GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Before coach Gary Blair even addressed Texas A&M’s latest victory, he checked in on another team from the Lone Star State playing Sunday.
“I hear my Cowboys are getting run today. Is that correct?” Blair said. “Don’t give up on my boys yet.”
Here’s some better advice: Don’t sleep on Blair’s team.
N’dea Jones had 17 points and 18 rebounds, notching her sixth double-double of the season, and the ninth-ranked Aggies remained unbeaten with a 92-67 rout at Florida on Sunday.
Ciera Johnson added 15 points and 10 boards for Texas A&M (10-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), which opened league play in Gainesville after going undefeated in nonconference play for the first time in program history.
But Blair didn’t want to hear about his team’s stellar start or any potential championships way down the road.
“No, we’re not interested in winning the SEC,” Blair said. “We’re interested in beating Kentucky. Way ahead of the horse. … Let’s just slow down the momentum right now. … Winning the SEC is the furthest thing from my mind right now. What we want to do is get better.”
Aaliyah Wilson chipped in 14 points thanks mostly to hitting all three of her shots from 3-point range. Texas A&M made 8 of 9 from behind the arc. Jordan Nixon (12) and Destiny Pitts (10) also scored in double figures.
“I definitely have faith in this team and our depth and just what we’re working to build every day in practice,” Nixon said. “Just get a little bit better every day and I think we can experience great success in the future.”
Florida (7-2, 0-2) kept it fairly close through three quarters, but A&M pulled away in the fourth. The Aggies used a 22-4 run — they hit three 3s in the spurt — to turn a nine-point game it into a laugher.
“The fourth quarter? I don’t know. Texas A&M just played Texas A&M basketball, I think,” Nixon said. “We found our flow and we just started to hum and came out with a win.”
Lavender Briggs led the Gators with 19 points and eight rebounds. Kiara Smith added 16 points, and Nina Rickards chipped in 14 points and 10 boards.
But Jones and Johnson dominated the Gators inside, leading the Aggies to 48 points in the paint and enjoying a plus-11 rebounding margin. They also helped foul out Florida’s Kristina Moore and Faith Dut.
“We came out and did what we needed to do today,” Johnson said. “SEC, you’ve got to come out and play every day. The one day that you don’t come out ready, you can lose to any team in the SEC.”
Texas A&M: The SEC’s most tenured coach has another team capable of winning it all. Blair and the Aggies won their lone national title in 2011 and have been a perennial NCAA Tournament team since 2005. With four returning starters, the team is poised for another deep postseason run.
Florida: The Gators have a daunting stretch to open SEC play. After losing to No. 5 South Carolina and A&M, they play Mississippi State next. That’s three of the league’s top teams to start league play.
Texas A&M: Hosts No. 13 Kentucky on Thursday, an early season matchup involving two of the league’s five ranked teams.
Florida: Hosts No. 12 Mississippi State on Thursday, trying to end a six-game skid in the series.
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