Note: Full and condensed replays are available after 11:30 PM (CT) per SEC regulations.
Freshman Nerlens Noel had a season-high 19 points and Julius Mays scored 19, including five in overtime, to lead Kentucky to its third straight win, 72-68 over Texas A&M Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats (15-6, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) led by one point before Mays made two free throws with 15 seconds left in the extra period. The Aggies (13-8, 3-5) had a chance to tie it after that, but Elston Turner's 3-pointer bounced off the rim with 5 seconds left. Mays added another free throw with a second left to secure the win.
"We've got to build on it," Noel said of the win. "This is the part of the season where we really want to break through and establish who we want to be in March."
The Wildcats opened overtime with a 7-1 run thanks to a jump shot by Noel and five free throws to take a 69-63 lead.
Turner's 3-pointer with about 2 minutes left in overtime got A&M within 69-66. Kourtney Roberson's layup made it 69-68 with 16 seconds left before the free throws by Mays.
Turner's 21 points led the Aggies, who played to overtime for the second straight game. Turner scored a career-high 40 points in an 83-71 win over Kentucky last month. Fabyon Harris added 14 points and Ray Turner had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Texas A&M.
"We had some key turnovers and we had some layups we missed," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "You've got to score them. When you get that chance against Nerlens Noel, who is changing the game down there, you have to make them."
Noel, who had a school-record 12 blocks in Kentucky's last game, also had 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks on Saturday. The 19 points by Mays were also a season high.
Noel took 10 shots on Saturday, after attempting just one in his last game.
"It was just a different type of game," he said. "I needed to step up offensively to keep us in the game a little bit. I was more effective offensively."
Kentucky was ahead by eight points before A&M used a 6-0 run to get within 60-58 in the second half. Alex Poythress made a pair of free throws for the Wildcats, but the Aggies cut it to two points again with a layup by Harris with 19 seconds left in regulation.
Turner got a steal and after a timeout tied it with a jump shot. He shook a defender with a double pump fake, and the ball clanged off the rim and into the air before falling back in with less than 2 seconds left in regulation.
Texas A&M stole a long pass by Kentucky to send it to overtime.
"That's what we are right now. It's that press they were - oh, they weren't pressing, we were just throwing it away," UK coach John Calipari said jokingly when asked about his team's play at the end of regulation.
The Wildcats led by eight points with about 4 minutes remaining. Texas A&M started a run on a goaltending call on a layup by Roberson. Kentucky's Kyle Wiltjer got an offensive foul and Turner hit a floater in the lane to make it 60-56.
A turnover by Wiltjer gave A&M the ball again, and Ray Turner took advantage of it with a layup to cut the lead to two with about a minute remaining.
Texas A&M cut the lead to four points with a layup by Roberson with 8 minutes remaining. A pair of turnovers by the Aggies and three free throws by Kentucky pushed the lead to 57-50 about 2½ minutes later.
Ray Turner added two free throws for the Aggies, but Kentucky answered when Mays connected on a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to make it 60-52 with less than four minutes to play.
The Wildcats led by 10 points early in the second half when the Aggies went on a 7-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Harris, to get within 35-30 with about 17 minutes left.
Kentucky was up by eight points a short time later before Texas A&M scored six straight points to make to 40-38 with about 13 minutes remaining. Alex Caruso grabbed a steal and took it down the court for a dunk to end the run and bring the rowdy crowd to its feet.
Ryan Harrow quieted the A&M fans when he responded with a 3-pointer a few seconds later.
The game was tied at 13 about 6½ minutes before halftime. The Wildcats then scored five straight points.
Kentucky was up by four points about a minute later before using a 9-0 run to extend their advantage to 30-17 with about 1½ minutes left in the first half. Mays started off that run with a 3-pointer, and Noel added a dunk in that span.
The Aggies scored the last four points of the half to cut the lead to 30-21 at halftime.
Texas A&M Men's Basketball
Kentucky 72, Texas A&M 68 (OT)
Feb. 2, 2013 ● Reed Arena
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
● Texas A&M fell to 13-8 this season with a 3-5 record in SEC play.
● Kentucky improved to 15-6 with a 6-2 conference mark.
● The Wildcats now lead the all-time series with Texas A&M by a count of 3-2 ... The squads split a pair of meetings this season with each school winning on the other's home court.
● Texas A&M has now played back-to-back overtime games for the first time since the 2010-11 season when it needed extra time at home against Baylor and on the road at Colorado ... The Aggies hold an all-time record of 33-46 in overtime games.
● Saturday also marked the first time Texas A&M has ever hosted the defending men's basketball national champion in College Station.
● After starting the game by missing their first 11 shots from the floor, the Aggies finished with a 39.3 team shooting percent (24-for-61) ... UK, meanwhile, ended the contest shooting at a 47.7 percent clip (21-for-44).
● A&M shot an impressive 18-of-19 (94.7 percent) from the free throw line.
● The Aggies owned a 38-24 advantage in points in the paint.
● Senior forward Ray Turner finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds to record his second double-double of the season and the sixth of his four-year A&M career ... He also enjoyed a career-high tying three blocks in the contest.
● Senior guard Elston Turner ended play with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-23 shooting from the floor ... It marked his 10th career 20+ point contest at Texas A&M.
● Junior guard Fabyon Harris finished with 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the floor to reach double-digits in scoring for the ninth time in the last 12 games.
FIRST HALF NOTES
● Kentucky led 30-21 after 20 minutes of play.
● Texas A&M missed its first 11 shots from the floor before scoring its first field goal at the 12:11 mark on a jumper by Ray Turner.
● UK began the game on a 9-0 run but the Aggies countered with a 9-0 run of their own to tie the game at the 10:06 mark.
● The Aggies shot a disappointing 7-for-29 (24.1 percent) in the opening half, a mark that included an 0-of-9 mark from 3-point range ... Kentucky, meanwhile, shot 47.8 percent (11-for-23) for the period.
SECOND HALF NOTES
● Texas A&M owned a 41-32 scoring advantage during the second period and was led by Elston Turner's 18 points.
● With A&M trailing 62-60, Elston Turner's long jumper with three seconds to play forced overtime.
● During the second half, A&M shot a blistering 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the floor while the Wildcats made 9-of-18 second half shots (50 percent).
● Eight of the Wildcats' 10 points during the overtime session came from the free throw line.
● The Aggies are back in action at Reed Arena on Thursday when they entertain Missouri in an 8 p.m. contest.
● Kentucky, meanwhile, returns to Lexington's Rupp Arena to host South Carolina on Tuesday.
Texas A&M Basketball
Kentucky 72, Texas A&M 68 (OT)
Feb. 2, 2013 ● Reed Arena
Texas A&M Head Coach Billy Kennedy
"I'm proud of the fight our guys had against a Kentucky team that played well. Everything we did they countered. (Kentucky) Going 7-for-15 from the 3-point line was big because our game plan was to force them to shoot threes and hope they missed."
On Elston Turner's potential game-tying three in OT:
"He got a good look. It was in and out but we gave ourselves a chance. Unfortunately, we missed that shot. (Julius) Mays made a big shot for them at the end of the shot clock. They scored at the end of the shot clock several times. They have the making of a good team."
On Ray Turner's performance:
"That's why we had a chance. Ray got his first double-double in SEC play and it gave us a chance. Inside he was a threat."
On Alex Caruso:
"It hurt us, him getting in foul trouble in the first half. He brings energy and scores off of his defense and gets easy baskets from time to time. When he was in he gave us some good minutes."
On Elston Turner coming back from first half struggles:
"He kept our composure, which I thought was big. He did that against Mississippi State in the second half where he struggled in the first half. I think he grew from that situation. I thought in the first half we had some really good looks. We had some good opportunities to score. Against a good defensive team you have to make those shots. He hung tough and played 44 minutes and we needed him for all 44 minutes."
"We had some key turnovers and we had some layups we missed. I thought Kourtney (Roberson) missing that dunk was big. You've got to be able to score those. When you get layups, you've got to make them. We took care of the ball better than we have. I'm thankful we only had 10 turnovers but against good teams, you can't have turnovers at the wrong time."
On the team performance:
"The key word on our board today was 'fight'. We wanted to come out and compete. We did it against Mississippi State in the second half and overtime and it bled into this game. We have to play like that every night and we have to get that kind of production from eight or nine guys because that's all we have. I thought for the most part we got good production from everybody who played. They all gave us something."
Texas A&M Senior Guard Elston Turner
On the potential game-tying three in overtime:
"It felt good. It felt better than the shot I hit to send it to overtime. It's heartbreaking when it goes in and out but that's how the game goes sometimes."
On the team's defensive performance:
"For the most part I thought we played great defense. We held them to 62 points in two halves. We made them work for it, but give them credit. They hit shots when they needed them and they made us work on defense. For the most part we played pretty good defense. We did get key turnovers but they did make a lot of tough shots when we needed stops."
On how he was guarded:
"They paid more attention to me. They made me catch it further back than being able to catch it coming off screens. Toward the end of the game, they started double-teaming me when I caught it. I kept trying to move around without the ball. I tried to get some back-cuts going. I was able to get good looks. I just wasn't able to hit some shots. As the game moved on I got more and more comfortable. I was just trying to find different ways to score."
On the turnovers:
"We played hard and that made up for a lot of mistakes that we had. We did turn the ball over in untimely situations but sometimes we got it right back. When you play and give it your all, it makes up for a lot of mistakes. Even with all the turnovers we still had a chance to win the game."
Texas A&M Senior Forward Ray Turner
On his individual improvements:
"I think I came out with more energy throughout the game. Coach has been on me about bringing more energy. I have to keep bringing the same energy, keep working hard every day and trust more in the coaches' system."
On Nerlens Noel's shot-blocking ability:
"You've got to give him credit. He's a great shot-blocker. We knew he was going to try and block everything. We wanted to try to make him try and block shots and have him get off his feet so we could get to the foul line. We knew he was going to try and block everything so coach told us to try and be in position to get the rebound. I tried to make sure I did that tonight"
Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
On team's performance:
"Every game is a dogfight. We made many plays down towards the end that were incredible. Julius did a great job on Turner. Whenever Archie sees Turner leave, if it's a pickup game go home. Don't go near the guy. Julius played him pretty good and made it hard. He still scored some baskets but he made it hard for him. I thought that Alex played well and I thought that Nerlens was a beast. We don't throw it to him enough. We are coming out of every timeout and throwing the ball."
On team morale:
"Without Julius, we don't win today. We are what we are and we've shown signs of getting better. The biggest thing is that when teams make a run at us, we just don't have a swagger about us. As a matter of fact, we almost look defeated. It's all we've been talking about. I'm not even watching game tape with them. It has nothing to do with that. We are telling them what should be in your mind when you miss a shot and when the negative thoughts are in your mind, how you get them out of your mind. Those are all life skills. When adversity hits you, how do you deal with it? I have a bunch of 18 and 19 year-olds and that's what they need right now, more than basketball."
On turnovers in the second half:
"That's where we are right now. They weren't pressing. We were just throwing it away. We have a ways to go. Every experience for this team is to learn and move on. You can't leave timeouts and choose what you are going to do. We left a couple of timeouts with players confused. But that's what young kids do and it's a tough environment. It doesn't matter what team we are right now or where we are as a team. We are a big game for everybody. A&M did not quit. They fought and battled and made plays and steals. Caruso came up with a couple of balls out of nowhere. There was a bunch of that, but we just played four or five on the road with this team. We survived and we survived without Willie playing much."
On first basket in OT:
"It was big. But there were all kinds of plays that were big for them and big for us, even the last play. We were talking about switching. We said it and all of a sudden they do it: a dribble hand-off fade and one of the guys stops. The kid gets a great look for a three. It's just what we are right now. We don't talk enough. We are not rough enough. They roughed us up. That was a physical game. They were rough with our guards. They were rough with our big people. It was body-to-body. It's what we need. We need teams to make runs at us and we need teams to physically come at us so we can learn how we have to play."