The Texas A&M women’s basketball team will be looking to avenge its loss against LSU as the Aggies take on No. 11 Kentucky on Thursday.
A&M is 14-2 on the season and currently sixth in the SEC. Kentucky is also 14-2 on the season and fourth in the SEC. While both teams matchup evenly on paper, things could get difficult for A&M if All-American Guard Chennedy Carter can’t play.
Carter suffered a sprained ankle midway through the LSU game. After her departure, the Aggies fell behind and could not pull out with the win in a highly contested game. This match against Kentucky will be the first game the Aggies have played in six days. The extra rest could be instrumental for Carter if she does end up playing against the Wildcats.
A&M coach Gary Blair said Carter will be a gametime decision, with Carter having the ultimate choice whether to play or not.
“It is a sprained ankle, so it will be a gametime decision,” Blair said. “It will not be my decision; it will be Chennedy Carter's decision. That's all it can be. This isn't a knee, this isn’t a rotator cuff. This is a sprained ankle.”
On the season, Carter has averaged 21.9 points per game, 3.8 assists per game and 1.9 steals per game for the Aggies. If Carter were to sit out for the game, the Aggies would miss her scoring as the Aggies only have two other players averaging over 10 points per game: center Ciara Johnson, averaging 12.9 points per game, and guard Kayla Wells, averaging 12.3 points per game.
However, another focus for the Aggies against Kentucky is their shooting efficiency. Against LSU, the team only converted a season low 18 of their 53 shots from the floor (34 percent) and only converted 1-of-9 (11 percent) three-point attempts in the game.
Kentucky is led by guard Rhyne Howard who is averaging 23.8 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 2.3 steals per game and 1.1 blocks per game. While efficiency has been an issue for A&M, it is a strength for Howard and the Wildcats. On the season, Howard is converting 42 percent of her 7.9 three-point attempts per game. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 37.9 percent from the three-point line, an area where the Aggies are only shooting 30.5 percent from on the season.
“She's a six-foot matchup nightmare because she shoots the three, she drives, she rebounds [and] she blocks shots,” Blair said. “She's doing it all, and she's just a sophomore.”
However, Blair said a major focus for the Aggies is rebounding. On the season, the Aggies are averaging 43.6 total rebounds per game and out rebounding opponents by an average of 12 rebounds per game.
With Carter potentially missing the matchup, Blair said it is important for A&M to be physical in the post.
“Eventually you’ve got to finish with contact cause they're not gonna call every foul, even if it is a foul,” Blair said. “As an athlete, you've got to learn how to play through contact. I thought our post players did pretty well against LSU, but they had so much pressure on them because we could not buy a thing from the outside. We went 2-for-21 after Carter got hurt.”
The Aggies will be playing in Lexington, Kentucky at Memorial Coliseum. The game starts at 5:30 p.m. and is available for streaming on WatchESPN.