Texas A&M Aggies (6-6) at Kentucky Wildcats (10-3)
- Game time: 7:00 pm EST on January 8, 2019
- Location: Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY
- TV Channel: SEC Network
- Announcers: Tom Hart and Jon Sundvold will be on the call.
- Live Online Stream: You can watch the game online using WatchESPN, the Watch ESPN app and fuboTV.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. Listen to an online radio stream with UK Athletics.
- Satellite Radio: Sirius 119 | XM 190 | Internet 961
- Replay: Check local listings on the SEC Network and WatchESPN.
- Rosters: UK | A&M
- All-Time record: UK leads the series 9-4
- A&M record last year: 22-13
- Head Coach: Bill Kennedy
- Last meeting: February 10, 2018 in the Regular Season, A&M won 85-74
- Odds: Kentucky opened as a 13.5-point favorite. KenPom projected Kentucky to be a 13.5-point favorite.
- Predictions: ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Kentucky a 93.3% chance to win. KenPom gives Kentucky an 89-percent chance of winning and projects an 80-66 victory for the Wildcats. Check out own prediction on the game.
- Digital Gameday Guide
Back in @Rupp_Arena tonight for the first time in nearly a month. We are pretty fired up about it. #TAMUvsUK pic.twitter.com/4Dy9BN92H6— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 8, 2019
There will be no time for sulking or even much reflection, as the Kentucky Wildcats have a quick turnaround at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night. The Texas A&M Aggies will mark the first weeknight game that UK has played since beating Monmouth way back on November 28th.
Saturday’s loss in Tuscaloosa was deflating for the momentum that the Cats had built over the past few weeks. It was unreasonable to think that Kentucky could have run the table on the road in the SEC. But, the league is deep this year with an unfavorable schedule for UK, so there is now less margin for error heading into Game 2 of conference play.
Fortunately, with a record of 6-6, Texas A&M is a lighter opponent that Kentucky should beat as long as they don’t have an offensive performance like we saw in the second half against Alabama. The Aggies lost by points points on Saturday in their conference opener against Arkansas. The past few years have produced some epic games between Kentucky and Texas A&M, but Billy Kennedy’s team has lost pretty much all of its star power from seasons past.
Now in his seventh season, Billy Kennedy has an overall record of 143-104 with two Sweet 16 appearances as the head coach of Texas A&M. However he is under .500 in SEC play and for the most part has been underwhelming in his tenure. The Aggies have finished 7th or worst in the SEC four of the seven seasons under Kennedy.
It really seemed as if Kentucky had turned the corner after convincingly beating North Carolina and Louisville on consecutive weeks. A horrid second half effort on the road at Alabama has once again throttled expectations for a team still trying to find consistency.
Anything but a rout of Texas A&M will be worrisome. I expect the Cats to come out with energy and play loose capitalizing on a return to their home court.
Texas A&M point guard TJ Starks has turned the ball over almost 50 times this season. Ashton Hagans could dismantle the Aggie backcourt in this one.
It was unacceptable for Kentucky to get cleaned up on the glass the way that they did against Alabama. UK lost the overall rebounding battle by 8, including being out rebounded on the offensive end. In a game that saw missed shot after missed shot it should have created opportunity for the Cats to do what they do best and pound the opponent on the boards. Prior to Saturday, Kentucky was rebounding 41% of its own missed shots.
Looking at Tuesday’s matchup, Texas A&M gave up 17 offensive rebounds against the Razorbacks on Saturday. PJ Washington and Reid Travis can’t be happy with how the last game went and should come out with some extra tenacity. Getting extra possessions has been UK’s formula on offense all year and has to be priority #1 against the Aggies. Second chance points are about the only scenario that would prevent Kentucky from controlling this game
Texas A&M has two primary rebounders, Savion Flagg who averages 8.3 a game, and Christian Mekowulu who leads the team in offensive rebounding with 37 on the year.
I don’t think that rebounding is anything to worry about long term but the SEC is a physical battle every single game, so Kentucky has to do what it does best, own the glass.
Avoid another second half collapse
Truth be told, UK had no business being in a position for a Tyler Herro three pointer to win that game in Tuscaloosa. The second half execution was brutal at best. Nothing was going right on the offensive end as Kentucky squandered easy basket after easy basket down the stretch.
Calipari made mention of the missed 2 footers in his post game comments as a big reason for the loss. There seemingly was not much offense being run for the first 15 minutes of the first half and before UK found its rhythm it was too late.
The first few possessions of half number two needed to go in the paint to Washington or Travis. Preferably whoever is hotter.
The home crowd should provide an extra lift if the game is still close in the second half against Texas A&M.
Control the three-point line
We have all heard this one before. Reverting back to poor perimeter defense cost Kentucky another game. It will continue to be an area of importance from week to week.
Thankfully, Texas A&M is an awful three point shooting team at 28% on the season, only an average of 6 per game. TJ Starks and and Brandon Mahon take the majority of the deep shots for the Aggies. Mahon has taken considerably more threes than anyone else on the team but is only making 25% of them.
Kentucky making some outside shots would also be nice to see. Watch out for Immanuel Quickley staying hot from deep. He’s hit six of his last 12 from deep as he’s starting to become another legitimate threat from beyond the arc, which will only open up Kentucky’s offense more.