COLLEGE STATION (AP) – Mississippi has had trouble all season because of its undersized players.
Those problems continued Thursday night.
Kelsey Bone had 24 points and a career-high 17 rebounds to help No. 10 Texas A&M to an 82-53 victory over the Rebels.
The 6-foot-4 Bone led the Aggies in scoring for the 18th time this season to help them get back on track after a 70-66 loss to No. 8 Kentucky on Monday night which snapped an eight-game winning streak.
Bone’s dominance inside helped the Aggies outscore Mississippi 50-28 in the paint, and A&M shot almost 53 percent to just 34.8 percent by the Rebels.
Mississippi coach Brett Frank said it was hard for his team, which doesn’t have a player taller than 6-1, to deal with Bone.
“Kelsey is phenomenal player,” Frank said. “She has versatility, she’s not a one-dimensional player. She’s the toughest post player we’ve seen to date this year. She’s one of the tops in the country.”
But Frank said his team needs to learn how to counteract size with other skills in order to improve.
“That’s something we see on a daily basis,” he said of his team having a size disadvantage. “We come in awfully small. We have to use our mentality to overcome the size deficiency that we have.”
The Rebels employed a zone defense Thursday to try and slow Bone down.
“We’re not a zone team, but we thought that would give us the best chance to compete tonight,” he said. “While it may have been, it still wasn’t good enough.”
Texas A&M (21-6, 11-2 Southeastern Conference) led by 12 points at halftime and was up by the same margin 5 minutes into the second half. The Aggies then used a 12-2 run to extend the lead to 60-38 midway through the half, and coasted to the victory.
Valencia McFarland had 11 points to lead Mississippi (9-17, 2-11), which has lost six of seven.
Mississippi missed nine shots, including four layups, as A&M padded its lead in the second half. Adrienne Pratcher and Bone scored four points apiece for the Aggies as they built their lead to 22 points.
Another run extended A&M’s lead to 75-44 with about 5 minutes left, and coach Gary Blair sent his starters to the bench.
“Coaches have been preaching to us about the bigger picture,” Bone said. “We’re not focused on who we’re playing, we’re focused on us.”
It was the third meeting between these new SEC foes, and the first since an 82-79 win by the Rebels in Anchorage, Alaska on Dec. 20, 1997.
Pratcher had 13 points for Texas A&M, while Courtney Williams scored 11 and Kristi Bellock added 10.
Monique Jackson added eight points and six rebounds for the Rebels, who are in a tough stretch and play No. 13 Georgia on Sunday before hosting No. 8 Kentucky.
The Rebels had six turnovers in the first 8 minutes to help the Aggies build a 22-6 lead. Bone got Texas A&M going by scoring eight points in that stretch.
“The early turnovers were partly to do with the pressure of the Aggies,” Frank said. “We’re a team that has had trouble starting games this year. It’s been our Achilles heel.”
The Aggies led by 12 points later in the first half before using an 11-2 run, capped by a jumper by Bone, to extend their lead to 38-17 about 2 minutes before halftime.
The Rebels found some offense after that, outscoring A&M 11-2 for the rest of the half to cut the lead to 40-28. Amber Singletary scored four points in that run, and McFarland capped it with a 3-pointer with 1 second remaining in the first half.
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