For the second straight game, the Kentucky Wildcats needed bonus time to win an SEC game. They edged out Texas A&M in College Station 70-64 in double overtime.
It was clear from the opening tip that Kentucky was going to be sluggish in this one. The Aggies ran out to a 9-0 lead over the first 5:21, and they held that lead well into the second half. A&M started off fairly hot for a team facing UK's defense, scoring 28 points in the first 15 minutes, but the Wildcat defense locked them down for quite a while. From the 5:34 mark in the first half until 5:41 in the second, TAMU only made five field goals.
That dry spell gave the Wildcats plenty of chances to turn on the jets and blow the doors off of A&M, but they never could do it. Solid Aggie defense combined with aimless Wildcat offense prevented UK's lead from ever getting larger than six. A&M might have even been able to hold the lead for even longer if not for terrible free throw shooting in regulation. They made just 9-of-19 from the charity stripe before overtime, with a few of them being the front ends of one-and-ones.
Fortunately for the Ags, Danuel House made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds to go to tie the game at 53. UK ran two plays—the first negated by a John Calipari timeout—that amounted to long Aaron Harrison jacked threes to close out the half, and neither found the net. Kentucky's offense never looked good today, to put it plainly. The team is defensively as scary as they come, but the Cats can't manufacture a score when they need to.
Defense and poor shooting held the day in the first overtime period, with the teams scoring just four points apiece. A&M edged out to a two point lead late after a Tavario Miller free throw, but on the other end, Trey Lyles made a pair to tie the game up again after an offensive rebound with seven seconds to go. Alex Robinson missed a long three as time expired to send things to another bonus period.
Dakari Johnson and Kourtney Roberson traded points early, and Lyles put in a bucket at the midway point to put the Cats up by a pair. House tied the game with pair of free throws on the ensuing time down the floor, but Tyler Ulis hit a dagger of a three with a minute to go to. The Aggies made just 2-of-12 from downtown up to that point, so it was a big three-point lead. Roberson made a free throw to pull within two, and a Lyles travel gave the ball back.
The Aggies set up a three-point attempt for House, but he missed it with just under 15 seconds to go. A&M had to foul, and Johnson made both free throws to push the lead out to two possessions. A missed three by Peyton Allen followed by two free throws from Devin Booker sealed the game for the Wildcats.
So what's the deal in conference play? Well, Kentucky is going to get everyone's best shot. That's a given. Beyond that, it hasn't been the same thing. UK got sliced up by Ole Miss's guards Stefan Moody and Jarvis Summers on Tuesday, with the extra period deciding an 89-86 shootout. Today, UK went terribly cold from the field and got dragged down into an ugly street fight. Poor free throw shooting from the Aggies (16-of-30 on the game) saved the day for Kentucky as much as anything else did. UK was just 28.1% from the field, and it actually was outrebounded by A&M. The Aggies being aggressive down low not only kept the game tight, but it also resulted in foul outs for Willie Cauley-Stein in regulation and Karl-Anthony Towns in the first overtime.
Billy Kennedy has his Aggies going in the right direction, but they're not quite good enough yet to be pushing this Kentucky team to double overtime on account of their own talent. UK might not be taking SEC play seriously enough yet, and it might actually take a loss to snap them back into reality.