The Auburn Tigers are unranked and riding a three-game losing streak, but they are still a huge a challenge for the 17th-ranked Texas A&M women's basketball team, which is trying to move forward from a 76-55 loss to Tennessee.
Auburn will host A&M at 5 p.m. Thursday at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.
"I think this is the most important game of the year," A&M head coach Gary Blair said. "Mainly how we do we respond after a loss? It wasn't just a loss. It was pretty much a butt-kicking."
The Aggies (16-5, 6-1) are still atop the Southeastern Conference standings, tied with seventh-ranked South Carolina (18-2, 6-1). Both teams have a one-game lead over 16th-ranked Vanderbilt (16-4, 5-2), 14th-ranked LSU (16-4, 5-2) and 10th-ranked Tennessee (16-4, 5-2).
A&M had won nine straight until Sunday's loss. Now the Aggies will have to start a new streak during a two-game road swing that will end at 1 p.m. Sunday at Vanderbilt.
"I think they've surprised a lot of people, and they are a very good team," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said in a press release. "They've got very good guards, good inside play and [point guard Jordan] Jones runs that team."
Jones along with fellow sophomores Courtney Williams and Courtney Walker had keyed the winning streak that returned A&M to the Top 25 after losing four of seven games, three of them to unranked teams. Walker had 20 points against Tennessee and played all 40 minutes, but Williams and Jones where among those who struggled. Williams missed 14 of 19 shots and Jones missed her only four shots. Other than Williams the Aggies shot only 29.1 percent from the field (14 of 48). A&M was 1 of 12 on 3-pointers, settling for long jumpers against Tennessee's active 3-2 zone defense.
Auburn (11-9, 2-5) also is in need of a pick-me-up victory. The Tigers were having a decent season until a 73-71 home loss to then No. 10 Kentucky triggered the current slide that includes a 71-60 loss at LSU and an 87-69 loss at Florida. Auburn opened Southeastern Conference place with an 82-74 victory at Mississippi State which was considered a mild upset. The Tigers rebounded from a pair of tough losses to Vanderbilt and South Carolina with a 61-39 victory at Alabama.
NOTES - The game was moved up and hour because the Auburn men will play Alabama afterward in a game that was moved back a day because of the wintery weather in Alabama. … A&M won't return home between the two road games. … A&M is 3-0 vs. Auburn. … Auburn was 19-15 last season, 5-11 in the SEC, tied for 11th. The Tigers lost in the WNIT quarterfinals to Drexel.
TEXAS A&M WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
No. 17 Texas A&M (16-5, 6-1 in the SEC) at Auburn (11-9, 2-5)
5 p.m. Thursday, Auburn Arena
TV/radio: None/KZNE, 1150 AM
Texas A&M's starting lineup
G Courtney Walker, 5-8, soph., 13.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg; C Karla Gilbert, 6-5, sr., 9.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg; F Achiri Ade, 6-1, jr., 8.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg; F Courtney Williams, 6-0, soph., 13.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg; G Jordan Jones, 5-6, soph., 6.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 6.1 apg.
Auburn's starting lineup
G Hasina Muhammad, 6-1, jr., 12.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg; G Brandy Montgomery, 5-10, fr., 11.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg; Tra'Cee Tanner, 6-3, soph., 10.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg; G Meagan Tucker, 5-8, fr., 4.4 ppg, 1.2 apg; G Tyrese Tanner, 6-1, sr., 16.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg