That was a nail biter, but Kentucky Wildcats were able to escape with a win over Texas A&M. They did so without Quade Green available. The Cats had some moments of excellence and some real head scratching moments as well.
In the first half, Kentucky started shooting the ball well but so did Texas A&M and at the first media timeout the Cats and Aggies were tied 9-9. Each team would make runs and exchange the lead, but Kentucky went 26-20 after two PJ Washington free throws with 8:46 left in the half. A&M would battle back to reclaim the lead but a big 3 by Knox with 10 seconds left would send the Cats into the break with a 37-35 lead.
In the Tennessee game, Kentucky came out of the locker room flat and with no energy and many believe that was the moment the Cats lost the game. That bad start happened again at the start of the second half of this game as the Aggies jumped out to a 44-39 lead, forcing Calipari to take a timeout to get his team refocused and in the game.
Kentucky would battle back, but A&M would keep getting back out to a solid lead. In the end, Diallo and Washington made some big plays for the Cats and Kentucky held on for the 74-73 win over a good Texas A&M team.
Thoughts on the game
Kevin Knox played better
Over the last few games Knox has struggled shooting the ball but in a big-time game for Kentucky he came out and shot 5/5, 2/2 from 3 and made 3 of 4 free throws for 15 points. If Knox starts playing at the high level, he started the season at then this team could really start to look like a team that can make a run.
PJ Washington has the toughness Cal wants
After the loss to Tennessee Cal was persistent on one word, toughness. Cal mentioned this a ton during his call-in show Monday night and in this game Washington showed that he has that toughness. Washington finished with 16 points and 4 rebounds and made some big plays for the Cats down the stretch when they needed a basket.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander bounced back
After three straight games where Shai was the best player on the team and doing it all for the Cats he had one of his worst games in Knoxville. He bounced back against A&M in a game that he needed to be good because Green was out with a back injury. Shai had 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists to help the Cats get the win in a tough game.
Hamidou Diallo had a good game
Like most of the Cats, Diallo struggled in the trip to Knoxville, but he had a good performance tonight in front of the Rupp crowd. Diallo finished with 18 points and like Washington, he made some big plays late in the game to help push Kentucky to the narrow win over the Aggies.
Nick Richards must get tougher
Nick Richards has had a tough time getting adjusted to the college game and he has struggled. Richards is unable to defend the low post against opposing big men that are tough and battle down low. This team needs a rim protector and Richards must get tougher, so he can be that presence for the Cats.
Despite the Aggies being 0-4 in conference play they have had some injuries and illnesses that have made this stretch hard. However, at full health this is a top 10 team in the country and this is a good win for Kentucky to have on it resume come March.
Here are the postgame notes, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Notes
- Kentucky is 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M is 11-5 overall, 0-4 in league play.
- Kentucky leads the series 9-3 and has won four in a row vs. the Aggies.
- UK leads the series 5-2 in Lexington.
- Kentucky begins a two-game road swing Saturday at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. CST in Nashville). The game will be televised on ESPN.
In the First Half
- Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the third time this season. UK is 3-0 with this lineup.
- Kentucky extended its streak of 1,029 consecutive games with a 3-pointer when Washington hit a long ball at the 17-minute mark.
- Texas A&M came out hot, making 8 of the first 10 shots for an 18-14 lead. But, the Aggies missed their next six field goals and UK went on a 12-2 run for a 26-20 Wildcat advantage.
- UK went cold at that point, going over seven minutes without a field goal, but the Cats’ defense and foul shots kept them in the game.
- Knox swished a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to send UK to intermission with a 37-35 lead.
- Gilgeous-Alexander led the Wildcats with 12 points, most he has scored this season in the first half.
- UK is 9-1 this season when leading at halftime.
In the Second Half
- Tied at 67 with 2:44 remaining, Washington was involved with UK’s next six points:
- A steal by Washington led to a fast-break layup by Knox.
- A TAMU turnover was followed by a Washington foul shot.
- Two TAMU missed foul shots prefaced a Washington driving layup for a 72-67 lead with 58 seconds remaining.
- Ahead 72-69 with 37 seconds left, Washington got a rebound and hit a free throw.
- Ahead 73-71 with 15.9 seconds left, Knox hit a free throw.
- TAMU got a tip-in with five seconds left to make it 74-73.
- UK missed two foul shots, but a long Aggie pass went out of bounds at the buzzer as UK held on to win.
- It was a close game throughout, featuring 14 ties and 12 lead changes, and six points was the widest margin for either team during the game.
- UK shot 55.8 percent from the field, making 24 of 43.
- UK is 6-0 this season when making at least 50 percent, 10-0 when making at least 46.4 percent.
- UK outrebounded Texas A&M 28-27. The Wildcats are 12-0 this season when winning the battle of the boards.
- UK had only 12 turnovers tonight. The Cats are 6-0 this season when committing 12 or fewer miscues.
- UK has won a pair of one-possession games in the last week, 74-71 at LSU and 74-73 tonight.
- UK is 41-8 under Coach John Calipari in bounce-back games after losses, including 3-0 this season.
- Kentucky has won 16 in a row in Rupp Arena.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander notched 16 points and a career-high seven rebounds.
- Had five assists tonight and has had at least four in six straight games.
- Hamidou Diallo led the Wildcats with 18 points, 14 of which came in the second half.
- Scored 10 in a row early in the second half.
- PJ Washington had 16 points, his third straight game in double figures.
- With the game tied at 67, Washington was involved with the next six points – a steal which led to a Knox layup, a free throw, a driving layup and a free throw.
- Kevin Knox tallied 15 points, making all five field goal attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers.
- Wenyen Gabriel only points came on a 3-pointer. He’s made at least one 3-pointer in eight consecutive games, the longest such streak for any UK player this season.
- Quade Green and Tai Wynyard missed the game because of injury.
Coach John Calipari
- Calipari has a 707-196 all-time on-court record.
- Calipari is now 262-56 at Kentucky.
- Calipari is 145-6 at Rupp Arena, including 127-3 against unranked opponents.
- Calipari is 8-2 vs. Texas A&M in his career.