Three key things that will determine the winner of the Huskies will beat the Aggies.
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Few games have been easy for UConn this season and the March S[imulation]adness Sweet Sixteen matchup against Texas A&M will be no different.
The Huskies has not lost in a Sweet Sixteen game in 15 years, while the Aggies have fallen in this round in the last two years.
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Christy Thomaskutty, former Emory head coach and current women’s basketball analyst, weighed in on what to watch for in this matchup.
Thomaskutty believes that there’s more to watch in the matchup than the two offensive stars, Megan Walker (UConn) and Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M). She had three other key things to watch out for in this dynamic game.
The Point Guard Battle
Thomaskutty emphasized that in order for both of the teams to get hot and score in bunches she stated, “To do that, you need a floor general who takes care of the ball and gets the ball to the right player at that right time in the right spot.”
While Shambia Washington, the Aggies point guard, had 35 turnovers in the first 20 games, she had 36 in the last 10 games. Thomaskutty added, “Her ability to distribute the ball in all of Gary Blair’s sets is critical to their success and for that to happen she must take care of the ball.”
On the other side, the Huskies point guard Crystal Dangerfield averages a 2.3 assist/turnover margin this season. However, in UConn’s three losses she avered a -0.75 turnover margin.
The Battle From Deep
UConn entered the tournament first in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 39.9 percent. The team also averages 8.8 made threes per game.
Thomaskutty noted that the Aggies have been susceptible to giving up threes as they have a tendency to protect the paint
The Aggies have been susceptible at giving up threes as they tend to emphasize protecting the paint.
She predicts that UConn will try to contain Carter by minimizing off-ball rotations, daring Texas A&M to beat them from deep, as the Aggies average just 3.7 threes per game.
If Texas A&M makes threes like Baylor did against the Huskies, the Aggies will have a chance. The Bears averaged 4.5 threes per game, but made eight against UConn in January.
However, UConn rarely makes the same mistakes twice.
The Battle on the Offensive Glass
This game could boil down to if the Huskies can keep the Aggies off the offensive glass. Texas A&M averaged 12.3 second-chance points on 13.6 offensive rebounds per game.
Thomaskutty believes that “the key to the Huskies limiting A&M’s prowess on the glass is, can they contain Carter’s dribble penetration and thus, minimize off-ball rotations.”
Advantage: Texas A&M
Thomaskutty repeatedly noted UConn’s ability to contain Carter off the bounce. Carter averages 31 points per game in NCAA Tournament games, but Thomaskutty believes that Aubry Griffin’s defense, in particular, will help the Huskies hold her below that average.
Overall, Thomaskutty believes, “At this point in the season, confidence and chemistry are vital to success. Both of which, I think UConn has in abundance. Thus, I expect the Huskies to advance.”
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