Takeaways from the first two rounds of the WBB Tournament

The first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament are in the books, and three of the four Texas schools are still alive as we head to the Sweet 16.

So, what went down during the first week of the tournament?

Jordan Nixon saves the Aggies

So, uhh, Texas A&M had an eventful week.

While the other top seeds were cruising, the Aggies just barely escaped against Troy in the first round and Iowa State in the second round. And while we could talk about the officiating calls in both games that seemed to play a key role in keeping A&M's tournament run alive, we should probably just talk about Jordan Nixon instead because, well...Jordan Nixon.

Nixon scored the three biggest buckets of Wednesday's overtime victory, draining the final two shots of regulation to bring the Aggies back from a four-point deficit in the final minute before later taking the ball coast-to-coast on a buzzer-beating layup. She finished with 35 points.

In the grand scheme of things, Nixon's performance is even bigger than just a single-game victory. A&M has been an extremely good team all year by virtue of their incredible depth. They have a former All-Big Ten First Team guard coming off the bench as their sixth woman. They have N'dea Jones and Ciera Johnson up front. But also needed someone to be That Player.

Wednesday showed that Nixon can be that big-time guard for the Aggies. The sophomore transfer from Notre Dame flashed some of that big-play potential during the season, but her two highest-scoring games of the year have come in the tournament. Nixon is coming up big exactly when the Aggies need someone to come up big.

 

SFA's valiant effort comes up short

The Ladyjacks were one of the most popular upset picks in the country. The 12-seeds out of Nacogdoches were seeded lower than their record and their high spot in the NCAA's NET rankings suggested they should have been, while opponent Georgia Tech was regarded as a weak five seed.

And for the first half, it looked like all that talk was going to come true.

Stephanie Visscher was aggressive early, scoring and helping set her teammates up to score, leading to a 17-point halftime lead.

But Georgia Tech didn't have center Lorela Cubaj for much of that first half after she took a nasty-looking spill. Once Cubaj was back in, the Yellow Jackets stormed back.

The problem for the Ladyjacks was that they just couldn't do anything inside. This is a team that excelled in the regular season because of three things: three-point shooting, defense, and efficiency in the paint. They had the first two things working, but SFA shot 38.9 percent at the rim and 23.5 percent in the rest of the paint. Late in the game, they just couldn't get an easy shot against Georgia Tech's size.

SFA's methodical offense worked early, but in the second half, it sometimes looked from the outside like they were deferring too much to the pass, draining the clock to look for the right shot and settling for Visscher just heaving something up to beat the shot clock.

The good news: a lot of the key players on this team will be back next season, when the Ladyjacks move into the WAC. And with the WAC's best team, California Baptist, not eligible for next year's tournament, a return to the dance seems in store.

 

Charli Collier struggles against UCLA, but Texas heads to the Sweet 16

The common consensus on Texas is that they need center Charli Collier to have big games if they want to advance in the tournament.

But in 26 minutes against UCLA, Collier took just three shots, going 1-for-3 and finishing with five points. The presumptive No. 1 pick spent the end of the game on the bench, with Lauren Ebo playing at center.

And what did Texas do? They won. Kyra Lambert, Joanne Allen-Taylor, and Celeste Taylor each played the full 40 minutes, with all three shooting at least 58 percent from the floor. UCLA just couldn't stop the Longhorns guards. Bruins wing Michaela Onyenwere fouling out helped Texas too.

Now, things start to get tougher for Texas, as they face Maryland in the next round. The Terrapins just beat Alabama 100-64. The Horns might not be able to survive another poor outing from Collier.

 

And Baylor keeps being Baylor

There might not have been a more dominant team than the Baylor Lady Bears.

A 49-point win over Jackson State is par for the course with this Baylor team, which has a track record of dominant wins over mid-majors, but they followed that up by beating Virginia Tech by 42 in the next round despite NaLyssa Smith getting into first half foul trouble.

How they'd do it? By getting their guards going. 21 points from Moon Ursin. 21 from Dijoinai Carrington.

Ursin in particular has had a great tournament. Her story is one we don't see much of in sports: a player who works her way into the lineup over her four seasons with a team, with her role increasing each year in Waco. She just had two of her five 20-point games this year in the first two tournament games. Her 24 points against Jackson State came in just 23 minutes of action. Ursin is having her moment in this year's tournament.

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