COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)Texas A&M coach Gary Blair surveyed the box score and smiled, pleased with the No. 6 Aggies’ rebounding against taller Duke.
”Look at the boards,” Blair said following Texas A&M’s 79-58 defeat of the Blue Devils on Sunday. ”My three kids had 12, 12 and nine. That’s the difference in the ballgame.”
Plus, the Aggies have star guard Chennedy Carter, and few programs have anyone like her. Carter, the SEC preseason player of the year, scored a game-high 25 points and the Aggies outrebounded the Blue Devils 47-26, despite Duke holding a nearly three-inch average height advantage over Texas A&M.
Along those height lines the Aggies (2-0) also dominated the Blue Devils (1-1) inside in outscoring Duke 38-26 in points in the paint.
”It was a very physical game and a nice test for us, without a doubt,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said of facing a Top 10 team early in the season. ”The rebound stats tell the story.”
Haley Gorecki led Duke with 16 points, and Ciera Johnson added 14 points for the Aggies. Johnson and teammate N’dea Jones each grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Texas A&M’s Cheah Rael-Whitsitt chipped in nine rebounds, also more than any Duke player earned.
The Blue Devils collected 13 steals and the Aggies committed 22 turnovers, their biggest cause for concern early in the season.
”I can live with the turnovers as long as we turn the page and go on to the next play,” Blair said. ”We made it hard on ourselves, but remember, we’ve played four games (including exhibitions) in 10 days.”
The Aggies have won three consecutive games against the Blue Devils, and Duke fell to 0-4 in games in College Station. The Blue Devils, a recent national power in the sport, also have lost 10 consecutive games to ranked opponents.
Texas A&M was coming off a 93-63 loss to the USA National Team in an exhibition game in Reed Arena on Thursday night. Duke defeated High Point 93-57 on Tuesday to start its season.
”I’m proud of this basketball team, and we need a day off. It’s Veteran’s Day (on Monday) and we competed like Marines out there,” said Blair, who served in the United States Marine Corps about 50 years ago.
Texas A&M: The Aggies usually play a tough nonconference schedule under Blair, and although Duke is unranked to start the season the Blue Devils gave the Aggies fits for nearly three quarters. That kind of experience against a typically tough, tall ACC foe should serve the Aggies well entering SEC play in early January.
Duke: Despite the setback the Blue Devils, receiving votes in the AP poll, hung around in the second half, trailing 41-36 with seven minutes remaining in the third, a confidence boost for a team needing it. Duke, with all five starters back from last year, is trying to make amends for its 6-10 showing in ACC play last season.
The No. 6 Aggies perhaps could slide up a spot following No. 4 Maryland’s home loss to No. 8 South Carolina on Sunday.
Carter stole the ball on one end of the court, built a full head of steam headed the other way and briefly smiled at defender Jada Claude just before making a layup over her seven minutes into the game.
SHE SAID IT
”We have a mindset of going to get the ball, so we can get a second opportunity to score.” Texas A&M forward N’Dea Jones, on the Aggies collecting 19 offensive rebounds against Duke.
Texas A&M plays its first road game of the season at Rice on Nov. 17 (Sunday).
Duke stays on the road at UNLV on Thursday.