COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — As the wins have piled up and No. 3 LSU has remained perfect, coach Kim Mulkey has seen teams attacking the Tigers differently than they did earlier in the season.
That observation led the veteran coach to remind her team that it will have a target on its back in every game from here on out.
“I just tell them you are becoming relevant in women’s basketball,” Mulkey said. “It’s out there that you’re undefeated and you’re going to have to learn how to be the aggressor. I think we’re learning that.”
Angel Reese led the way for LSU again on Sunday with 26 points and 22 rebounds in a 72-66 win over Texas A&M.
Alexis Morris added 22 points before fouling out late to help LSU (23-0, 11-0 Southeastern Conference) remain unbeaten ahead of next week’s showdown with top-ranked and undefeated South Carolina. It was Reese’s 23rd consecutive double-double.
The Tigers won their first eight SEC games by an average of 23 points, but needed overtime to beat Georgia 82-77 last week before Sunday’s close game with the Aggies.
Mulkey raved about the job Reese did to close out the win.
“She’s just a talent,” Mulkey said. “She’s a talent that hates to lose. She has an unbelievable will to win.”
Mulkey was impressed with how Reese fought through an A&M defense that was determined to slow her down.
“I thought they defended her better today than they did at our place,” Mulkey said. “She’s just a competitor. She’s learning that she draws a lot of attention. She was guarded tough today.”
An 8-0 run by Texas A&M (6-15, 1-10), capped by six consecutive free throws, cut the lead to 66-62 with less than two minutes to go. Reese made two free throws before Kay Kay Green made 1 of 2 free throws on the other end to leave LSU up 68-63 with less than a minute left.
Last-Tear Poa added two free throws for the Tigers to push it to 70-63 seconds later. LSU forced a turnover and Reese added a basket to make it 72-63 with 17 seconds left.
Sahara Jones scored 14 points for the Aggies, who lost their third straight.
Texas A&M coach Joni Taylor was encouraged by her team’s performance Sunday after the Aggies lost 74-34 to LSU earlier this season.
“I just think we’re more settled in,” she said. “We’re a different team than when we played them at the beginning of January. I think we’re more confident, we have a better understanding of what we wanted to do.”
Jones was asked how the Aggies were better Sunday than they were in the blowout in Baton Rouge.
“Did you see the score?” she asked. “We didn’t get beat by 40. We did the best we could.”
The Tigers led by 13 at halftime, and the Aggies refused to let them pull away in the fourth quarter.
Tineya Hylton made a 3-pointer for A&M after a turnover by Reese to cut the lead to three points early in the fourth quarter. But Reese was fouled on the next two possessions and made three free throws to make it 52-45.
Another 3 by the Aggies, this one from Jones, cut it to four again. But Ladazhia Williams made an off-balance layup to start a 6-2 spurt that pushed the lead to 58-50 with 5 1/2 minutes to go.
Texas A&M used a 5-0 run to cut the lead to five. But Flau’jae Johnson grabbed a steal and finished with a jump shot as the first of six straight points by the Tigers to make it 66-55 with three minutes left.
LSU: Johnson had 11 points … The Tigers made 3 of 9 3-pointers. … LSU made 21 of 26 free throws.
Texas A&M: Hylton had 12 points. … A&M scored 20 points of LSU’s turnovers. … A&M made 6 of 17 3-pointers.
LSU: Visits top-ranked South Carolina next Sunday.
Texas A&M: Visits Mississippi State next Sunday.