Texas A&M will look to record its fourth consecutive win against an SEC opponent as the Aggies host the Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday night.
The Aggies are entering the game with a 17-3 overall record and are 5-2 against conference opponents. The Bulldogs enter the game with a 12-8 overall record and a 3-4 conference record; they are looking to avenge their most recent loss against South Carolina.
For the fifth straight game, the Aggies are expected to be without All-American guard Chennedy Carter, who sprained her left ankle in a Jan. 9 contest against LSU.
“She is practicing today, but I can’t give any more information on the subject,” A&M coach Gary Blair said.
However, with Carter’s status for each game largely unknown, senior guard Aaliyah Wilson has been asked to fill her role in the starting lineup.
Without Carter, the team has won three of its last four games. The team’s current leading scorer is junior guard Kayla Wells. Her production has increased to 16 points per game during Carter’s absence, which is three points higher than her season average of 13. Junior center Ciera Johnson has averaged 14.8 points per game in the same stretch, shooting 51 percent from the floor.
Senior guard Shambria Washington has averaged 9.5 points in the four-game span. However, her role as a clutch-time shooter and playmaker is something Blair said is providing the most value to the team. Washington is averaging six assists per game in the last four games.
“She knows she’s not a 20-point person that can create her own shot all the time, but she can run a ball club,” Blair said. “That’s what seniors do at A&M in any sport, and every game our talk is about, ‘What do we need from you in this specific game?’”
Junior forward N’dea Jones, who averaged just under 11 points per game this season has averaged 15 points per game over the past four games. However, Jones said she believes the 12.3 rebounds per game she has averaged in that span is more important to her and the team.
“It shows my hustle, I think that is how I have branded myself,” Jones said. “Even though I might not have the highest-scoring game, I’m going to get 10 rebounds. I try really hard, and I think it helps knowing I contributed in a way that helps my team.”
Rebounding has been a big point of emphasis for the team all season. In conference play, A&M is averaging over 42 rebounds per game compared to Georgia’s 39 per game. Blair said he feels like the Aggies can win the rebounding battle against an undersized Georgia frontcourt.
“We might have a size advantage on the inside for once, and hopefully we can exploit that,” Blair said.
Even at their best, the Aggies will have to deal with the Bulldogs’ junior guard Gabby Connally. The preseason All-SEC guard is averaging 12.3 points per game this season while converting 37 percent of her field goal attempts and 35 percent of her three-point attempts.
The game starts at 7 p.m. at Reed Arena on Thursday and will be available for streaming on ESPN+.