How to watch Texas A&M Aggies (11-4, 0-3 in SEC) at Kentucky Wildcats (12-3, 2-1 in SEC)
When: January 9th at 7 pm EST
Where: Rupp Arena Lexington, KY
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Online Stream: You can stream the game online or on your mobile device using WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.
Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have UK radio network on 630 AM and 98.1 FM or online at UKAthletics.com
Replay: UK Basketball Live and WatchESPN
Odds: The Vegas point spread opened with UK being favored by 7 points, but that has since dropped to 5.5. KenPom projected the Cats to be a 4-point favorite.
Predictions: UK has a 72.1% chance of winning, according to ESPN’s matchup predictor. KenPom gives UK a 65% chance of winning with a projected final score of 71-67 in favor of the Cats.
Injury updates: Texas A&M is expected to have starting forward Robert Williams, who missed Saturday’s loss to LSU while battling the flu. Starting guard Admon Gilder is also expected to play after missing time with a knee injury. Starting guard Duane Wilson is doubtful to play due to a knee injury.
On UK’s side, freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt returned to practice on Monday, but it appears highly unlikely he will play this week.
The Kentucky Wildcats will look to get back on track when they welcome the Texas A&M Aggies to Rupp Arena.
With Kentucky’s loss to Tennessee over the weekend, they’re now sitting at 12-3 overall (2-1 in conference play), but they’re still undefeated at home (10-0). They look to keep their unbeaten record at home against an Aggies team that is 0-3 in conference play now after losing to LSU, a team UK recently beat in a close game.
Kentucky has had a rough last few games, including tight wins against Georgia and LSU, then a hard loss against Tennessee. All three games have gone by the flow of their guard play. If Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo aren’t in their zone, it’s very hard for this young team to get going offensively.
On the other side, junior wing D.J. Hogg is averaging 14.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.5 APG. He’s a main component to his team’s success, as is sophomore forward Robert Williams, who is averaging 8.4 PPG and 10 RPG. Junior center is arguably the team’s best player, averaging 14.1 points and 8.4 boards per contest.
The Aggies have been holding teams to an average of 66.9 PPG, and UK is averaging 78.9 PPG. Kentucky is the better shooting team with a 2.3% increase on their field goal percentage, but Texas A&M seems to be the more aggressive team averaging more rebounds (44.1) and blocks (6.3) per game.
If the Aggies are aggressive in the paint, they’ll be a major problem for the Wildcats. Their Achilles’ heel this season has been aggressive play in the paint, forcing them to pull away from the perimeter and allowing the opposing team to have their way on offense.
John Calipari addressed this problem in a recent interview after the loss to Tennessee:
“I’ve got the toughness issue because people, what they do is they watch the tape and they say, ‘Just throw these guys around. They will not fight you back. Just throw ‘em and post ‘em hard. Go right at them. Don’t fade away. If a shot goes up, bum-rush them. Go rebound a missed shot. They’re going to let you run by them.”
The Aggies are in desperate need of a win, maybe even more so than Kentucky. Texas A&M can’t afford to go 0-4 to start off conference play. UK can’t afford to lose another game if they truly want to gain the respect they deserve in the rankings.
Texas A&M has dealt with multiple injuries lately which has had a lot to do with their recent skid of three straight losses. They started off the season going 11-1 and were ranked #5 in the polls.
Both teams are out for blood in this one, and if the Wildcats don’t start attacking on defense, this game could get ugly.