No. 16 Texas A&M women rout Mississippi St. 81-33

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — On Thursday morning, Gary Blair, head coach of No. 16 Texas A&M, had an enjoyable breakfast in downtown Starkville with an old friend. But Thursday night, Blair showed little mercy on that old friend, beating Vic Schaefer's Mississippi State squad 81-33 behind an 18-point night from Kristi Bellock.

Schaefer, an A&M alum, was an assistant coach in College Station for nine seasons and recruited most of this year's squad before leaving for Mississippi State last spring.

"Vic is special," Blair said. "We've done so much together. When we get on the golf course and compete, it's like we're Tiger and Phil. Only I get to be Tiger."

Blair's team shot like professionals Thursday night. Texas A&M (15-5, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) hit 60 percent (29 of 48), well above its season 46.6-percent average. The Aggies were 4 of 10 from behind the arc and 19 of 25 from the free-throw line. They also forced 23 turnovers, including 17 steals.

"They should be in the top 5 or 6 teams in (the) country," Schaefer said. "They're so underrated in my opinion. They've got a confident point guard who's waited her time, and the second best player — maybe the best post player in the country — in (Kelsey) Bone. They may run the table, they're that good."

Bellock scored her 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

"I just stick to what I'm good at," Bellock said. "I stick to my strengths and stay away from my weaknesses. Tonight my shot was just falling."

Mississippi State (8-11, 0-6) couldn't muster much offense for Schaefer in his first game against his old squad.

"Our point guards had 12 turnovers tonight," Schaefer said. "We had some really good looks and just couldn't get them the ball."

The Bulldogs were 12-of-45 shooting and bested the worst offensive performances in program history by a single point — Mississippi State scored 32 points against Manhattan in 1985 and Auburn in 1986. The 48-point scoring margin is the worst at home for the Bulldogs losing by 50 in that 1986 loss to Auburn.

"I've got work to do here," Schaefer said, "and we're going to get it done. It's a process."

Despite the lopsided score, Blair said he thinks Schaefer is building something special at Mississippi State.

"This team is very similar to my first teams at A&M," Blair said. "It takes time, and you have to convert people. This should have happened five or six years ago, but he'll build it. Give him time."

Texas A&M opened the game on an 11-4 run and led 39-19 at halftime.

"That's just the way this team is," Bone said. "If you stop one thing, we come at you with something else. Tonight coach Schaefer tried some of the defense we used to run against Baylor. We were able to adjust."

Bone scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

After the break, the Aggies immediately extended their lead to 54-19 to open the second half. They never trailed, and Blair was able to rest his starters some in the second half.

Adrienne Pratcher added 15 points for the Aggies on 6-of-10 shooting and was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Martha Alwal led Mississippi State with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Jerica James added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

This is Texas A&M's second road win of the week after beating No. 12 Georgia 64-46 on Sunday. The Aggies have won seven of their last eight games overall.

"This team has slid under the radar all year," Blair said. "We haven't gone away, we've only gotten better."

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