Men's Basketball
No. 12 Kentucky Visits Texas A&M on Wednesday

No. 12 Kentucky Visits Texas A&M on Wednesday

by Tim Letcher

Kentucky is in the midst of perhaps its toughest five-game stretch of the 2021-22 regular season. And the Cats will have their first road test in that stretch on Wednesday at Texas A&M.

The quintet of challenging games began with nationally-ranked Tennessee on Saturday. Kentucky was up to the challenge, using an efficient offensive performance to pound the Vols 107-79 inside Rupp Arena. TyTy Washington Jr. led the Cats with a career-high 28 points, while Sahvir Wheeler had 21 in his return to the lineup after missing two games.

Now, the Cats head west for a Wednesday night matchup against one of the SEC’s top teams so far this season, Texas A&M. Buzz Williams has his team 15-2 on the season and 4-0 in the conference. The Aggies have won all 10 of their games inside Reed Arena this season and are riding an eight-game winning streak overall.

UK associate head coach Bruiser Flint knows what makes Texas A&M go.

“Really good guard play,” Flint said. “One of the things they’ve done is they’ve won a lot of close games. They have guys who can make plays when they need them. They get after you defensively, they put a lot of pressure on you offensively. It’s one of the more balanced teams in the league. It’s going to be tough down there. This is going to be a challenge.”

Kentucky at Texas A&M

Wed., Jan. 19 – 8:30 p.m. ET
Reed Arena
College Station, Texas
Game Notes: UK | TAMU
UK Athletics App


TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Stats

14-3 Record 15-2
4-1 Conference Record 4-0
84.0 PPG 76.0
63.1 Opp PPG 62.9
.505 FG% .469
.399 Opp FG% .408
42.4 RPG 35.8
.361 3PT FG% .374
.313 Opp 3PT FG% .322
17.5 APG 15.3
6.9 SPG 10.8
4.8 BPG 4.1

Five of Texas A&M’s top seven players are guard, and Williams has gone with a four-guard lineup at times this season. That could pose problems for the Cats, although Flint says the Cats will likely focus on their own strengths.

“I think you always do what you do best. When you try to counter what the other team does, sometimes it doesn’t work,” Flint said. “So, I think we’re going to stick to our plan. We know we’ve got some tough matchups, we’ve talked about it. But, we’ve been pretty good defensively, so I think we’re going to stick to what we do. We have a size advantage, we hope we take advantage of that on both ends of the floor with rebounding and posting the ball.”

Kentucky has its own set of outstanding guards. In addition to Washington and Wheeler, the Cats are getting big contributions from Kellan Grady and Davion Mintz. Wheeler likes UK’s back court.

“I think the biggest thing is that we’re all playing confident,” Wheeler said. “We’re spending extra time in the gym. We’re trusting our training and we’re a veteran backcourt, outside of TyTy, but TyTy is as mature as it gets. With Kellan, Davion and myself, we kind of know what to expect. We don’t really force anything. We know if it’s our turn, we’re going to be aggressive. But we also keep each other motivated. And we’re playing unselfish. When you’ve got guys who are playing unselfish and wiling to play for each other, it’s hard to focus on just one player.”

Flint thinks UK head coach John Calipari is enjoying this team, and Flint knows why.

“We have really, really good kids,” Flint said. “We have great chemistry, they get along together. As a coach, you can’t ask more than that. They do what you ask them to do, both on and off the floor.”

As the Cats head to what’s sure to be a hostile Reed Arena, the experience and chemistry will be important as UK goes for a tough road victory.

On Emotional Day, Offensive Outburst Sparks Win Over Tennessee

Just winning would have been fitting enough to honor the passing of a Kentucky coaching great.

The No. 18 Wildcats took that objective a step further, doing it convincingly with near-perfect offense thanks to a defense that created plenty of easy chances.

Freshman TyTy Washington Jr. scored a career-high 28 points, Sahvir Wheeler returned from injury to add 21 points and Kentucky shot 67.9% — highest ever for UK under John Calipari — to defeat No. 22 Tennessee 107-79 on Saturday.

The Wildcats rolled the Volunteers on an emotional day that began with news of the death of former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall at age 93.

Hall led the program to its fourth national championship in 1978. He was close with current Kentucky coach John Calipari, who paid tribute to his friend and mentor by gripping a rolled-up program and starting in a 1-3-1 defense against their border rivals.

Kentucky then unleashed its most energetic performance this season before its biggest crowd in a while, an effort helped by the return of point guard Wheeler from a neck injury. The Wildcats made their first five shots and 22 of 28 by halftime, with their 78.6% shooting tying a program record set in the first half against Mississippi on Jan. 14, 1981 (11 of 14).

“We wanted to win, and it’s a ranked opponent,” Calipari said. “I told them we got a ways to go but this was a step and look, I thought Tennessee played well offensively. They did some good stuff.

“But we were so good offensively, passing it, extra plays. They stretched out their defense and we’re a driving, shoot (a) floater kind of team. That’s what we are, and it kind of worked in our favor.”

Especially for Washington, who scored Kentucky’s first basket to jump start a 14-5 lead. He finished 10 of 13 from the field, including 2 of 4 from beyond the arc, topping his previous high of 20 points last matched against Western Kentucky on Dec. 22.

Kentucky teammates followed Washington’s lead, with all but one player shooting 50% or better from the field.

“We really just can’t rely on Oscar (Tshiebwe) all the time to try to carry us all the time in big games,” Washington said in reference to Kentucky’s top scorer and rebounder. “A lot of other guys, we’ve got to step up as a whole. We all pinpoint that, and I think that helped us today. We all stepped up and executed.”

Kentucky’s accuracy held up for nearly 30 minutes before cooling off slightly and finishing 38 of 56 from the field. Kentucky also went 20 for 21 from the foul line to end a two-game home slide against the Volunteers (11-5, 2-3).

Kentucky reached the century mark for the second time this season with 2:31 left and posted its highest output since scoring 107 against Illinois-Chicago on Nov. 26, 2017. The final point total was even more remarkable considering that Tennessee entered the game No. 2 in the nation in defensive efficiency, according to It was the first time a team had reached the century mark against the Volunteers in 15 years, since the 2006-07 season, and the most that UK had ever scored against the border rival.

Wheeler, who made 8 of 10 from the field, added, ”If we play like this, we won’t be having too many more Ls.”

Santiago Vescovi scored 20 points and Kennedy Chandler 17 for Tennessee, which shot 53% but wasn’t close for the final 30 minutes. The Vols also committed 20 turnovers that Kentucky turned into 32 points.

“I didn’t think we started defensively the way we wanted with our scouting report,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “We were in the kind of game we thought we’d be in, and then we turned the ball over and they score quick points. You simply can’t give a team this good that many points off turnovers. They’re gonna shoot 80% if you let them get those runout dunks and those runouts where they were getting to the corner and gonna shoot it.”

Kellan Grady added 16 points and Davion Mintz 10 for the Wildcats, who made 11 of 18 from beyond the arc. Wheeler had eight assists, while Oscar Tshiebwe had 12 rebounds and nine points.


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