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Kentucky Wildcats at Texas A&M Aggies: Game Preview

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The Wildcats hit the road for the first time this year in the SEC, all the way over to College Station for a tilt with the Aggies.

Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats hit the road for only the second time this season and the first time in SEC play, making the trip to College Station, Texas for a tilt with the Texas A&M Aggies. Of course, we have a connection with TAMU through former coach Billy Gillispie, and current coach Billy Kennedy has a Kentucky connection in that he was the former coach of the Murray State Racers.

The Aggies were the first SEC team to hand John Calipari a defeat in Rupp Arena, and only one of three schools — Florida and Arkansas being the others — to beat Kentucky at home during the Calipari era. This will be only the second trip to College Station ever for the Wildcats.

General

Season so far for Texas A&M:

Season record: 9-4, 0-1

Texas A&M is another SEC team that has had ups and downs so far this year. They have a couple of nice wins against Arizona St. at home and against New Mexico in the Puerto Rico Tip-off.

Unfortunately, the Aggies have lost to every top 100 club they have faced, including Dayton, Baylor and Alabama. Kansas St. at #104 also defeated them in Kansas City. Alabama beat them Tuesday convincingly in Tuscaloosa. KenPom reckons the Aggies have only a 10% chance of upsetting the Wildcats tomorrow.

Series history

Kentucky’s history with TAMU is short. Because of their very recent (2013) admission to the SEC, Kentucky has only played them 3 times with the fourth being tomorrow. Prior to 2013, the most recent game against the Aggies was back in 1978, a rare loss in the former UKIT for Kentucky. In total, UK and TAMU have met 6 times, with the Wildcats prevailing in 4 of those contests.

Stats

Texas A&M Roster:

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Status Yr. Hometown (Prev School)
14 Kourtney Roberson F 6-9 247 S** Sr. Arcadia, La. (Arcadia HS)
24 Antwan Space F 6-8 235 S** Jr. DeSoto, Texas (Florida State) (DeSoto HS)
21 Alex Caruso G 6-5 184 S** Jr. College Station, Texas (A&M Consolidated HS)
23 Danuel House G 6-7 207 S+ Jr. Fresno, Texas (Univ of Houston) (Hightower HS)
5 Jordan Green G 6-5 191 S** Sr. Flower Mound, Texas (Flower Mound HS)
3 Alex Robinson G 6-1 174 MR Fr. Arlington, Texas (Timberview HS)
12 Jalen Jones G/F 6-7 223 MR+ Jr. Dallas, Texas (SMU) (Kimball HS)
22 Peyton Allen G 6-5 202 MR Fr. Springfield, Ill. (Glenwood HS)
0 Avery Johnson G 5-11 182 R Fr. Houston, Texas (Plano West HS)
4 Tavario Miller F 6-7 226 R* So. Long Island, Bahamas (Wheatley HS (Houston, Texas))
10 Tonny Trocha-Morelos C 6-10 224 R Fr. Cartagena, Colombia (Mayor Jose Celestino Mutis)
15 Davonte Fitzgerald F 6-7 209 R* So. Atlanta, Ga. (Tucker HS)
45 Dylan Johns C 6-11 231 R* So. Ipswich, England (Copleston High School)
13 Juan Aparicio G 6-4 194 R@* Jr. Bogotá, Colombia (Second Baptist HS [Houston])
25 Kyle Dobbins G 6-0 175 R@* So. Houston, Texas (Memorial HS)
33 Ramon White G 6-2 164 R@* Jr. Fort Worth, Texas (North Side HS)
20 Chris Collins G 6-2 180 R@ Fr. Friendswood, Texas (Friendswood HS)
2 Derek Cahn F 6-5 193 R@ Fr. Highland Park, Texas (Highland Park HS)








Legend
S Starter
MR Major reserve
R Reserve
* Returning player
** Returning starter
+ Eligible transfer/red shirt
- Ineligible
@ Walk on
& Injured, not available

Source: Texas A&M Athletics

Team Comparison

Rank and Records UK TAMU
RPI #1 #59
Strength of Schedule #4 #77
Overall 14-0 9-4
Conference 1-0 0-1
Home 11-0 7-0
Away 1-0 0-3
Top 25 4-0 0-1
RPI Top 50 6-0 0-3
KenPom.com #1 #80

Source: Statsheet.com

Four Factors

TAMU-UK FF

Texas A&M Team Notes

  • The Aggies are a good shooting team, pretty much as good as the Wildcats.
  • TAMU is a slightly above-average defensive team that is no match for Kentucky. The wildcats are the best defensive team in the land.
  • Texas A&M is an average offensive rebounding team, and Kentucky is #1 in the nation.
  • The Aggies and the Wildcats shoot about the same percentage from three on the season, but the Wildcats are trending upward, and the Aggies downward.
  • The Aggies shoot about the same percentage of threes per shot attempt as Kentucky does.
  • TAMU is a good 3-point defensive team.
  • The Aggies turn teams over at a pretty high rate.

Texas A&M Player notes

  • Jalen Jones is TAMU’s leading scorer and rebounder. He is an accurate, but infrequent 3-point shooter.
  • Alex Caruso is one of the best point guards in the nation. He is #4 in the NCAA in assist percentage and #15 in steals percentage. He shoots a solid 36% from the arc, although he rarely takes them. He shoots a very high percentage from 2-point raunge, almost 59%.
  • Danuel House is a dangerous player who has only recently become eligible to play. He is a junior swingman who can do it all.
  • Kourtney Roberson is the big dog inside. He is a senior who shoots a very high percentage, gets rebounds, and does the dirty work.
  • Jordan Green is an efficient guard with good size. He is an average 3-point shooter, but a very good 2-point scorer and the most efficient wing player for the Aggies.

Injuries

  • Texas A&M — Jalen Jones, the leading scorer, is questionable due to a sprained ankle.
  • Kentucky — Alex Poythress is lost for the season due to a torn ACL.

Likely matchups

Starters

  • Alex Caruso vs. Andrew Harrison/Tyler Ulis — Caruso is simply one of the best point guards in the SEC and the country. He is the guy who makes the Aggies go. He has great size, good offensive skill, and does only what he needs to do to help his team win.

    Both Andrew and Ulis are competent defenders, but Ulis will suffer a significant size mismatch when he’s in the game, and Caruso will be able to leverage that. Caruso is an even better on-the-ball defender than Ulis, and is a senior to boot.

    Andrew is a better matchup for Caruso — in fact, they are very similar players in most respects. Andrew has the size to handle Caruso in the lane, and also to make him struggle defensively.

Advantage: Texas A&M

  • Jordan Green vs. Aaron Harrison/Devin Booker — Green is a great matchup for Both Aaron and Booker. He is big enough to negate the size msimatch, he shoots well enough to demand attention on the perimeter, and he’s a very good finisher at the rim.

    The problem is that the Wildcats are just more talented, and just as big. This is one of the better 2-guard matchups in the SEC with Booker and Aaron, but Green just isn’t good enough to stop them.

Advantage: Kentucky

  • Danuel House vs. Trey Lyles/Devin Booker/Andrew Harrison — House is a talented player who can score inside and out, and he has good size and athleticism. Trey Lyles will be able to bully him in the post, and should be able to guard him on the perimeter, but that’s a little bit iffy. Both Harrison and Booker can guard him, and they can probably score better on him as well.

Advantage: Kentucky

  • Antwan Space vs. Willie Cauley-Stein/Marcus Lee — Space is a solid athlete and a fine player, but he just has no chance against WCS. Stein is bigger, stronger, quicker and just play more of a badass. WCS will have to chase Space around on the perimeter, because he shoots the ball really well on the outside. But inside, it’s all Willie.

    Lee is taller, longer and more athletic than Space, although Space has significant experience on him.  Space would fare better against Lee, but as he's not a big offensive player anyway, I'm not sure it would matter much.

Advantage: Kentucky

  • Kourtney Roberson vs. Karl-Anthony Towns/Dakari Johnson — Roberson has size, strength and experience, and he’s a really good inside player who can rebound and shoots a very high percentage.

    Unfortunately, he’s up against bigger, stronger, and more talented players in Towns and Johnson. They are both capable of outrebounding and outscoring him in every aspect.

Advantage: Kentucky

Bench

Texas A&M actually has one of the better benches in the SEC. Alex Robinson is a fine backup point guard who can do everything but score. Peyton Allen is a good wing who can make the three and finishes inside at a high percentage. Jalen Jones is normally a starter in place of Antwan Space, and is the team’s leading scorer. If he is available, it will make TAMU even more potent.

But no bench has the advantage over Kentucky.

Advantage: Kentucky

Analysis

Texas A&M is a talented team that’s not quite ready to beat Kentucky. It’s important to note that perhaps no team in the SEC other than Florida has more raw talent than the Aggies, but the talent they have will have to throw out the game of their lives to knock off the Wildcats. It’s always possible they could play like Ole Miss did against UK on Tuesday — it’s just not likely.

Even if Jalen Jones is available and starts, that only means that Willie Cauley-Stein is likely to be his defender, and that means that his ankle injury will just make it harder for him to make an impact. WCS affects games in ways that only Anthony Davis did, and Jones is simply no match for him even at home.

Alex Caruso will give Kentucky trouble. He’s a next-level point guard who can do the things that need to be done to give his team a chance. The problem is, his targets just aren’t as big and talented as Kentucky’s.

Make no mistake — Texas A&M can beat Kentucky. Having said that, they are very unlikely to muster the kind of game it will take to do so, particularly with their leading scorer questionable. Even if he was totally healthy, it would still be a big spread in favor of the Wildcats, and require something really exceptional to send Kentucky home with their first loss of the season.