NASHVILLE — Moments after Kentucky and Texas A&M played an SEC tournament championship game to remember, Aggies coach Billy Kennedy paid more than lip service to the Wildcats.
“They’re good,” Kennedy said. “I mean, they’re Final Four good.”
Kentucky used a pair of overtime 3-pointers to sink A&M after Wildcats star Tyler Ulis came up short at the regulation buzzer.
Kennedy thought his team was able to corral Jamal Murray, who failed to reach 20 points for the first time in 13 games, but was unable to hold down Ulis in the end.
“I don’t think you can wear him down, but we wore him down some and he missed some shots,” Kennedy said. “But when he needed to make a big one, he made a big one, and that’s a credit to those guys.”
The close loss didn’t damage A&M’s tournament positioning; the Aggies still garnered a higher seed (No. 3) than Kentucky (No. 4) when all was said and done on Sunday.
“If they’re a Final Four team, then we just showed that we’re a Final Four team,” Kennedy said. “But it means nothing if you don’t win the first game in a tournament.”
The Aggies face No. 14 seed Wisconsin-Green Bay on Friday at 7:20 p.m. ET in Oklahoma City. The Wildcats face No. 13 seed Stony Brook on Thursday at 9:40 p.m. ET in Des Moines.
Texas A&M guard Alex Caruso said Ulis is the key to Kentucky making a second consecutive Final Four run.
“He’s played three straight days about 40 minutes, and he could probably play another game right now,” Caruso said. “He’s a tremendous athlete. His conditioning is outstanding. When someone doesn’t get tired, they can play at their best, and his best is really elite. He’s a good player, Player of the Year in the conference, I think, rightfully so.”