STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — No. 8 Mississippi State was struggling to produce on both ends of the court for the better part of three quarters against No. 16 Texas A&M and needed a good shot in the arm. That’s when Myah Taylor came alive.
The sophomore point guard picked the pocket of A&M’s Shambria Washington with 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter and sparked an 11-2 run into the fourth quarter. That turned a 10-point deficit into an eventual 69-57 win that gave Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer one of the sweetest victories of the year.
“Myah Taylor was the best player in the gym (Sunday). I am so proud of her,” Schaefer said. “You’d have to know Myah’s path and how hard it is to play point guard for me. It’s just not easy, but lately she’s played so well. I thought she took over the game. Both ends of the floor.”
Taylor scored all 16 of her points in the final 12 minutes, and she had six assists, three steals and zero turnovers to lead the charge for the Bulldogs (22-3, 10-1 SEC), who just couldn’t get anything going.
The Aggies (18-5, 6-4) were playing their sixth consecutive game without preseason SEC Player of the Year Chennedy Carter, who has been dealing with an injury. That didn’t stop them from shutting down the Bulldogs on the defensive end for most of the first three quarters.
Texas A&M kept the lead to double digits for the better part of 10 minutes — from late in the second quarter to late in the third — before Taylor got started. She had a steal with 2:16 left in the third with the Aggies trailing by 10 points and she scored.
It was the first of four straight Mississippi State baskets by Taylor, which helped erase a 49-43 disadvantage after three quarters. The Bulldogs opened the fourth with a 9-0 run to take a lead they wouldn’t lose.
At the half, Mississippi State had 10 turnovers and trailed 37-26, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over just once in the second half. They lost the rebounding battle 39-34 but scored 44 points in the paint, compared with the Aggies’ 32.
On the flip side, Texas A&M went from scoring 26 points in the second quarter to scoring 20 points the entire second half.
“Turnovers killed us in the second half and we knew they were going to make a run, but we thought we were going to make a run but we didn’t,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. “It was a poor job of executing by me calling the plays and us executing the plays.”
Two-time SEC Freshman of the Week Rickea Jackson had 21 points to lead Mississippi State and added 10 rebounds for the second double-double of her career. Jessika Carter had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds.
Kayla Wells and N’dea Jones scored 16 points each for Texas A&M, with Jones hauling in 15 rebounds. Aaliyah Wilson added 12 points.
Texas A&M: The Aggies were again without star Carter and the offense reflected it. Still, the preseason favorites for the SEC championship created a lot of problems defensively for Mississippi State. When Carter returns, they should be ready for a run.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were playing their third game in seven days and looked tired early. Their second-half dominance showed that they’re capable of being a threat moving forward.
Texas A&M: Hosts Vanderbilt on Thursday.
Mississippi State: Travels to Kentucky on Sunday.