LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky basketball has played Texas A&M six times since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2013. Four of those games went to overtime and Elston Turner dropped 40 points in another.
In other words, expect a good game Tuesday night when the sixth-ranked Wildcats host A&M at Rupp Arena. These two teams shared the regular-season SEC title last season and met in the league championship game, where Kentucky won in OT.
The Aggies lost some serious firepower from that Sweet 16 team – Alex Caruso, Jalen Jones and Danuel House – but are still plenty talented. And coach Billy Kennedy always finds a way to challenge the Cats, it seems.
“They’re going to be well coached,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “They’re disciplined in what they do. They’re running good stuff. They’re playing a lot of zone, they’ll play that 1-3-1. They’ve mixed it up. If something works, he sticks with it on offense and defense. They’re a worthy and terrific opponent for us.”
Kentucky basketball vs. Texas A&M game time, details
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 3
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Rupp Arena (23,000), Lexington, Ky.
Vegas Line: Kentucky by 14 ½
What TV channel is Kentucky basketball vs. Texas A&M on?
The game will be broadcast on ESPN (DirecTV channel 206, DISH channel 140, Time Warner channel 27/753 HD).
How can I watch Kentucky basketball vs. Texas A&M online?
Who is calling the Kentucky basketball game vs. Texas A&M?
Play-by-play by Dave O’Brien, analysis by Dick Vitale and sideline reporting by Kaylee Hartung.
How can I listen to Kentucky basketball vs. Ole Miss?
Play-by-play by Tom Leach, analysis by Mike Pratt on Sirius 134, XM 191 and AM-630 (in Lexington).
No. 6 Kentucky (11-2, 1-0 SEC)
G-De’Aaron Fox (6-3, Fr.): 15.6 ppg, 6.8 apg, 5.0 rpg
G-Malik Monk (6-3, Fr.): 22.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.2 apg
G-Isaiah Briscoe (6-3, So.): 15.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.2 apg
F-Wenyen Gabriel (6-9, Fr.): 5.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.3 apg
F-Bam Adebayo (6-10, Fr.): 13.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg
TOP RESERVES – F Derek Willis, 6-9, Sr., 6.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg; C Isaac Humphries, 7-0, So., 3.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg; G Mychal Mulder, 6-4, Sr., 7.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg; G Dominique Hawkins, 6-0, Sr., 2.8 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.7 rpg.
Texas A&M (8-4, 0-1 SEC)
G-J.C. Hampton (6-1, Sr.): 6.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.2 apg
G-Admon Gilder (6-4, So.): 12.5 ppg, 4.5 apg, 4.3 rpg
F-D.J. Hogg (6-9, So.): 13.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.7 apg
F-Tonny Trocha-Morales (6-10, Jr.): 8.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.8 apg
C-Tyler Davis (6-10, So.): 14.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.5 apg
TOP RESERVES – F Robert Williams, 6-9, Fr., 10.5 ppg, 5.3 pg, 2.4 bpg; F Tavario Miller, 6-8, Sr., 4.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg; G Eric Vila, 6-11, Fr., 3.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.2 apg.
* Another challenge on the glass: The Aggies rank ninth nationally in offensive rebound percentage (39.6) and second in the SEC in rebounding margin (plus-5.9 per game), meaning Kentucky’s quest to improve on the glass needs to happen fast. Six of Texas A&M’s top eight players are 6-8 or taller.
“They’ve got one of the most imposing front lines in college basketball, not just in our conference,” UK assistant Tony Barbee said. “They do a great job of running their offense, which puts their bigs around the rim for offensive rebounding. And it starts with Davis … so it’s going to be crucial to block out, keep your man away from the ball and then get our guys to go get the ball.”
Davis is a huge human at 6-10, 270 pounds, who went for 15 points, 12 rebounds and the game-winning putback in overtime against Kentucky last season in College Station. More recently, he went for 21 and 10 against Arizona two weeks ago.
“Obviously his size is a huge factor, but he plays one or two moments ahead in the game. He’s always angling for position in the post,” Barbee said. “He’s always angling before the shot is taken to get offensive-rebound position. It’s what makes him so effective down there. He’s very similar to Bam in that way.”
* Bam breaking out. After a strong game at Louisville, then a career-high 25 points at Ole Miss, it appears Kentucky’s star freshman forward is hitting his stride. With impressive moves in the paint and power dunks on hopeless defenders, Adebayo is starting to look like the projected lottery pick that he is.
“He’s on the cusp, he’s there, he’s wherever you want to put him,” Barbee said. “His best days of basketball are still in front of him. He’s learning every day. He comes to practice to learn and to work every single day. I haven’t seen him take a day off since he’s been here. So when you’ve got that kind of physical talent and you have that kind of mental approach to the tame, that I can always learn and get better, it’s scary to think where’s going to be in the years to come.”
* Will Monk crash the glass? He’s scored 34 at Ole Miss, 47 against North Carolina. He’s the top-scoring freshman in college basketball. He’s on pace to break UK records for made 3-pointers in a season and points by a rookie. And Monk is finally starting to drive and draw fouls like coach John Calipari has commanded, plus playing defense better than ever before. “Now,” Calipari said, “we’ve got to get him to rebound. And that means go mix it up in there and go. My opinion, he should easily be a double-double every game.”
Barbee said Kentucky’s staff has been focused on its long, athletic guards helping out on the boards, where the Wildcats have surprisingly struggled at times this season. Monk is the primary concern.
“He should be a guy that goes and gets five, six, seven rebounds a game,” Barbee said, “because he can and he has the ability to.”