Auburn had no answer for Texas A&M’s size, speed and aggressiveness in a 71-54 loss to the 17th-ranked Aggies on Thursday night at Auburn Arena.
It was Auburn’s fourth consecutive loss, and sixth in the last seven games.
The Aggies (17-5, 7-1) caused Auburn (11-10, 2-6) to turn the ball over 22 times in the game, while creating 15 steals. They also had six blocks, led by senior center Karla Gilbert’s three.
The biggest discrepancy was in the paint, where Texas A&M outscored Auburn, 46-26. In the first half, the Aggies had a 20-4 advantage down low and took a 16-point lead into halftime.
“We let them punch first,” sophomore center Tra’Cee Tanner said.
Texas A&M guard Jordan Jones harassed Auburn’s two freshmen point guards — Meagan Tucker and Allina Star — early and often, racking up five steals in the first half. She finished with six for the game.
“I thought in the first half we played a little timid, a little scared,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “They jumped right on our point guards right away, and that kind of set the tone immediately for the game.”
Finding consistency at the point guard position has been something Williams-Flournoy has been struggling with all year in the lineup, switching between Tucker, Star and junior-college transfer Kiani Parker.
“You saw it, it’s very hard,” Auburn’s head coach said about getting the right mix at the point. “You try one point guard, you try another point guard, and then we go back with Kiani, who’s not really a point guard. Tonight, we were just trying to find the best option that could get the ball up the floor and into our plays.”
Auburn, which shot 32 percent (17-of-53) from the floor, including 21.7 percent (5-of-23) in the first half, was led by Tyrese Tanner’s 15 points. Tra’Cee Tanner was the only other Tiger in double figures. She had 11.
Tyrese Tanner, Auburn’s leading scorer, spent most of the first half on the bench in foul trouble. The second half wasn’t much different, as she picked up her fourth personal with 14 minutes left in the game. She did, however, play 23 minutes in the game, and scored all her points in the second half.
Gilbert scored 16 points, while going 7-of-8 from the floor for the Aggies. Courtney Williams led Texas A&M with 17 points.
Auburn started the second half with some life, going on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 8 points, 34-26, led by 6 points from Tyrese Tanner.
The Tigers then cut it to 7 at the 14-minute mark when Kiani Parker completed a 3-point play.
However, that would be as close as they’d get, as Texas A&M dominated once again on both ends of the floor in the middle portion of the final half. The Aggies went on a 27-9 run after that and cruised to the final margin.
Auburn did win the turnover battle, however, causing Texas A&M to turn the ball over 27 times.
“That’s the most we’ve ever turned the ball over in our lives and still won,” said Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair, who is 4-0 on the road in conference this season, adding: “I’ve had four wins in four tries. So I’m playing with house money for a while.”
Auburn will now travel to Arkansas on Sunday.
“We’re hungry,” Tyrese Tanner said of the Tigers’ mindset in the midst of this losing streak. “We’re going to continue to play hard. We just need to play harder.”
Mike Szvetitz is the Sports Editor for the Opelika-Auburn News.