COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Jordan Nixon scored a career-high 19 points to lead No. 8 Texas A&M to a 77-60 win over No. 10 Kentucky on Thursday night.
Aaliyah Wilson scored 18 points and Ciera Johnson had 14, and N’dea Jones added 12 points and 12 rebounds to help the Aggies (11-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) match their best start since the 2014-15 season.
Nixon, a sophomore who sat out last season after transferring from Notre Dame, scored A&M’s first 11 points and capped a 14-0 run early in the fourth quarter with two free throws to give the Aggies a 59-47 lead. Kentucky’s Blair Green ended the drought with a 15-foot jumper with to pull the Wildcats within 10 with 7:20 left, but that’s the closest the Wildcats (9-2, 2-1) got.
Nixon, who is from New York City, hit her first five shots and ended 7 of 13 from the field along with all three free throws as A&M was 18 of 19 from the line.
“I needed her at the point because of her leadership,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. “She’s got that New York City mentality that a turnover doesn’t bother her.”
She missed a reverse layup, getting reprimanded by Blair. She bounced back to end up playing a career-best 34 minutes.
“She’s got no fear,” Blair said.
Rhyne Howard, the reigning SEC player of the year, had 22 points for Kentucky. KeKe McKinney added 12 points.
Kentucky shot 46% from the field (26 of 57) but made only 4 of 17 3-pointers. The Wildcats also had 17 turnovers that A&M converted into 24 points.
“Give credit to A&M, they played hard tonight,” Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy said. “They pushed the ball in transition offense. Defensively, they were switching it up and they were physical.”
A&M went inside to start the second half with Johnson getting two buckets and two free throws to help the Aggies take a 45-39 lead. Kentucky answered with an 8-0 run as Howard hit a 3-pointer and then assisted on a 3 by McKinney.
The Aggies answered with the last eight points of the quarter with half coming at the free-throw line. Kentucky didn’t score in the last 4:31, making three turnovers and missing three field goals and two free throws.
Kentucky took a 5-0 lead, but the Aggies came back to take an 11-9 lead with all the points by Nixon, who capped it with a 3-pointer just under five minutes into the game.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” Wilson said. “She shoots like that in practice. We were excited and happy when she started us off like that.”
Howard and Jazmine Massengill hit shots in the last 15 seconds of the first quarter to give the Wildcats a 21-18 lead. A 14-foot jumper by Chasity Patterson and a pair of buckets by Howard gave Kentucky the biggest lead of the first half at 27-20. But the Wildcats had four turnovers in the last 6:33 left before intermission and the Aggies hit 5 of 6 free throws, including two by Wilson with 15 seconds left to tie the score at 31.
Kentucky: The Wildcats are 2-1 in a four-game stretch against top 15 teams, a first in school history. Kentucky was coming off victory over Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Texas A&M: The Aggies had top 25-victories over Texas and DePaul, but this is the program’s biggest victory since beating No. 8 Oregon State on Dec. 15, 2018.
Kentucky: Hosts No. 5 South Carolina on Sunday.
Texas A&M: At No. 13 Arkansas on Sunday.