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Texas A&M rallies late to stop upstart Kansas

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M players got "an earful" at halftime from the coaching staff after playing terrible defense in the first half of Saturday's game against Kansas.

The Aggies (No.7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) avoided any lectures after the game with a tough defensive performance to erase a six-point halftime deficit and get the 73-60 win.

"In the first half you guys could tell that our defense wasn't as good as it should be," Danielle Gant said. "We let them catch the ball on the wings, we didn't have enough pressure."

Gant scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half and Takia Starks added 17 points to help the Aggies to the win. The Aggies didn't lead in the second half until Gant scored five straight points during an 11-0 run that put A&M ahead 59-51.

Texas A&M (17-3, 5-2 Big 12) got its third win in a row despite struggling for most of the game, shooting under 40 percent until late in the second half.

Starks said the improvement on defense was the key to the offensive improvement.

"Basically we run off our defense," Starks said. "When our defense isn't working it affects our offense. We were playing pretty bad and not executing coach [Gary] Blair's plays."

The Aggies forced 26 turnovers by Kansas (12-7, 1-5) that led to 29 points, with 17 coming in the second half.

Danielle McCray scored 24 points to lead Kansas, which has lost four straight.

"We just lost our poise toward the end and then they started making us turn the ball over more," McCray said. "We just beat ourselves."

Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson agreed.

"On the turnovers it's losing some poise and a lack of toughness," she said. "On a night where we can make some shots, it was the turnovers that got us."

Blair was impressed that he got contributions from so many of his players Saturday.

"We know who the stars are and the stars had to deliver, but everyone else had to play well," he said. "Starks and Gant, they did their thing. But look up and down the lineup. We had to use like 12 or 13 players."

Texas A&M led by one point before the Jayhawks went on a 9-2 run to take a 21-15 lead about six minutes before halftime. A jumper by Tyra White cut the Kansas lead to two points just before halftime, but the Jayhawks ended the half with four straight points for a 35-29 lead.