COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Jennifer O’Neill had 17 points and Linnae Harper scored 16 to lead No. 15 Kentucky to its fifth 20-win season in a row on Sunday in an 83-74 victory over No. 16 Texas A&M.
Kentucky (20-7, 8-6 SEC) led the entire second half but needed an 8-2 run at the end of the game to secure the win.
After the Aggies (21-7, 11-3) closed within 75-72 on Karla Gilbert’s putback with 2:34 left, they missed their last five field goals while the Wildcats pulled away.
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell credited his players’ effort and a recently installed 2-3 zone for the difficulties the Wildcats’ defense caused the Aggies.
“The players worked really hard on the 2-3 zone for the past two days,” he said. “We had not played a lot of that and it and it paid off for us today.”
The Aggies hold the tiebreaker with South Carolina for the top seed in the SEC tournament thanks to a 67-65 overtime victory against the Gamecocks on Jan. 16. But A&M will need to win out and get help from both Tennessee and Georgia who face South Carolina next week.
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair took the blame for the loss.
“Throw the errors at me,” he said. “I’ve got to do a better job at coaching. We worked hard to set ourselves up to have a chance to win this thing. Now what we’ve got to do is throw this game aside, learn from it, try to win our last two, get to the SEC Tournament and hopefully get hot and hopefully get smarter.”
Samarie Walker had 14 rebounds and DeNesha Stallworth had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Kentucky.
Courtney Walker tied her career high with 26 points for A&M. It was her seventh 20-point scoring game of the season and the 11th of her career. Courtney Williams added 16 points with 14 coming in the second half.
Walker also had 10 rebounds, but was frustrated with the overall effort that led to Texas A&M getting out-rebounded 25-12 in the first half and 47-32 overall.
“They were just a little bit faster out of it,” she said. “They rebounded well out of it.”