COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Following his team's fastest start of the season, Texas A&M coach Gary Blair intends to have an enjoyable holiday, while preparing for a much bigger test on Sunday.
''It's always good to love your team the night before Thanksgiving,'' a pleased Blair said after the No. 7 Aggies defeated McNeese State 93-27 on Wednesday night. ''This team finally showed up tonight, and showed what we're capable of doing, regardless of opponent.''
Following sluggish starts in their two prior victories over Rice and Prairie View A&M, the Aggies made a point of running and gunning from the opening tip against the Cowgirls. Their plan worked to perfection in building a 54-14 halftime lead.
They scored their most points in a first half since also tallying 54 four years ago in a 96-52 victory at San Diego State, the same season the Aggies went on to win their lone national title.
Five minutes into the second half on Wednesday, the Aggies had quadrupled the Cowgirls (3-2) to the tune of 64-16. The Aggies led Rice 37-27 at halftime and Prairie View A&M 29-19 at halftime - a combined half of their halftime margin of 40 points against McNeese State.
''We were flying around, and the energy we were able to bring on defense helped on offense,'' A&M guard Courtney Walker said.
Now, A&M will play host to No. 8 Duke on Sunday, and afterward Blair grabbed a microphone and urged the exiting crowd to ''bring your friends'' for the top 10 showdown.
In preparation for as much, the Southeastern Conference's Aggies on Wednesday scored their most points in a game since a 93-47 victory over Mississippi State three years ago, when A&M still competed in the Big 12. The Aggies' margin of victory (66 points) was also third largest in school history and most since a 109-26 whipping of McNeese State (83 points) eight years ago.
''Coach Blair has put another top-notch program on the floor,'' McNeese State Brooks Donald-Williams said. ''We certainly struggled because of their defensive efforts - and because of their offensive efforts. The whole gamut was tough.''
A&M junior forward Courtney Williams, after missing the first four games because of a suspension and playing 18 minutes against Prairie View A&M off the bench on Monday, returned to the starting lineup. She led all scorers with 19 points in 21 minutes, including 15 points in the decisive first half. Amber Donnes led McNeese with seven points.
''She rebounded well and penetrated a lot,'' A&M center Rachel Mitchell said of Williams' efforts that included six rebounds. ''We've been missing that, and we're back together as a unit.''
A&M is 6-0 for the sixth time since 2006-07, and for only the seventh time in school history. . Mitchell and guard Chelsea Jennings each tallied a career-high 11 points. . Aggies junior point guard Jordan Jones notched 10 assists, giving her a dozen games with double-digit assists in her career. . The Aggies have won 18 of their last 20 home games.
Texas A&M plays host to No. 8 Duke on Sunday.
McNeese State plays host to Wiley College on Dec. 3.
The Aggies shot 57.6 percent (38 of 66) from the field, compared to 17.9 percent (10 of 56) for the Cowgirls. . A&M crushed McNeese State in points in the paint (46-12), points off turnovers (23-7), fast-break points (24-8) and bench points (40-16).