LEXINGTON, Ky.--Texas A&M battled No. 14 Kentucky but was unable to overcome early foul trouble as the Aggies fell 68-51 Tuesday night to the Wildcats before 22,634 at Rupp Arena.
The Aggies (12-6, 3-2 SEC) trailed by seven at the break, 34-27, after being whistled for 12 first-half fouls--three of which were against leading scorer Jamal Jones.
A&M was able to cut the lead to four on a Shawn Smith layup three minutes into the second half, but UK (14-4, 4-1) flexed its muscle and went on an 18-5 run to take control of the game.
Alex Caruso and Davonte Fitzgerald led the way for Texas A&M with 12 points apiece.
Kentucky placed three in double figures, led by Alex Poythress' 16 points and Julius Randle's 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Wildcats held a plus-18 advantage on the boards on the night.
The Aggies return home to face Vanderbilt on Saturday at Reed Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for Noon and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
Kentucky 68, Texas A&M 51
Jan. 21, 2014 ● Rupp Arena
TEAM RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
● Texas A&M fell to 12-6 on the season and 3-2 in SEC play with the 68-51 road loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena Tuesday evening.
● The all-time series between the schools stands at 4-2 in favor of the Wildcats.
● The Aggies shot 37.3 percent from the floor (19-of-51) in the contest and took a season-low eight shots from 3-point range, making two of the attempts.
● Kentucky, meanwhile, shot 44 percent (22-of-50) for the game and owned a 42-24 advantage in the rebounding column which led to a 15-4 margin for the Wildcats in second-chance points.
● The Maroon & White used the starting line-up combination of Alex Caruso, Jordan Green, Jamal Jones, Kourtney Roberson and Shawn Smith for the first time this season.
● The Wildcats owned a 34-27 lead at the intermission after shooting 40.7 percent (11-of-27) during the opening period ... The Aggies shot 42.3 percent prior to halftime (11-of-26).
● Sophomore Alex Caruso and freshman Davonte Fitzgerald shared top-point honors for the Aggies, each contributing 12 points.
● Additionally, Caruso collected three steals in the contest to give him 101 for his two-year Aggie career ... He becomes the 18th member of A&M’s 100 Steal Club and just the fifth Aggie to reach the milestone in only two seasons ... The College Station native dished out three assists Tuesday and remains the SEC’s leader in assists (91) and assists per game (5.1).
● Freshman Dylan Johns tied a career high by playing 11 minutes against the Wildcats, contributing a rebound and a block.
● A&M head coach Billy Kennedy is now 44-39 in his third season at Texas A&M and 255-218 in 16 years as a head coach.
● Following two straight games on the road, the Aggies return to the friendly confines of Reed Arena on Saturday when they host Vanderbilt in a noon contest ... The game will be televised to a national audience on ESPNU.
Rupp Arena – Lexington, Ky.
Jan. 21, 2014
Texas A&M Head Coach Billy Kennedy
Opening statement …
“I really thought Kentucky’s physicalness, their length and just how physical they are gave us a lot of problems scoring. It seemed like when they got to the rim, they got to the free throw line and finished; when we got to the rim they were blocking shots and changing our shots. Their freshmen and sophomores were a lot more physical and longer, better than our freshmen and sophomores.”
On how much Alex Poythress impacted the breakout …
“He was dominant, you know, physically. I’m not surprised, he’s a really good player and he’s one of their more upperclass guys, you know, so he played like it. I thought he and (Julius) Randle were just physical, much more so than we were.”
On Kentucky’s depth wearing them down …
“Yeah, we’re not a very deep team. But I thought their depth wore us down and really more so just – they’re just bigger and stronger at every position. I thought that wore us down more than anything. Alex Caruso battled. We struggled getting it to the rim, we struggled keeping them off, it seemed like a few times they were just playing ping pong off the backboard during that one stretch. We thought the pace of the game was where we wanted it to be, especially the first half and the beginning of the second half we had opportunities but missed some free throws, you know, Kentucky took advantage of it.”
On what he saw in Alex Poythress …
“I just saw him a bunch coming up when I was at Murray State and really like his talent and his character. These kids – Kentucky’s kids are young, I don’t think people take that into – they’re talented, extremely talented. But they’re young, they’re learning how to play hard, their bodies, they’re gifted bodies but they’re maturing like a 19, 20-year old gifted body would mature and I just think it takes time. John (Calipari) has got a good team, he’s doing a great job being patient with them. They got a young squad and I thought they had some guys make more physical, more mature plays than we did.”
On the early foul trouble with Jamal Jones …
“That hurt us, you know, a little bit but more so than that, Kentucky’s – he made the first 3 and then I think they knew he was capable scoring and they challenged, they did a great job of defending him and challenged things. They blocked shots that other teams he has played against weren’t able to block. They challenged shots that we hadn’t played anybody else that could challenge the way they did and that’s a tribute to them.”
On if there was a turning point in the second half …
“It was a 10-point game, you know, then it got up to 13 or 14, from there, we were worn down. They just physically wore us down, you know, with their depth and just with their athleticism and size.”
On how much he wanted them to shoot 3s …
“A lot. You know, we wanted them – and they came out and made a few 3s early. You have got to be able to try to protect the paint. The Harrison twins, I’ve watched them for years in Texas get to the free throw line and (James) Young. I mean, everybody they have on the floor can drive the ball and put pressure at the basket. So we wanted to pack the paint and keep it tight and hope they miss shots. I thought that worked for a while but they just wore us down by continually driving the ball and getting to the free throw line. They shot 27 free throws, you know, they did a good job of attacking the basket, when the missed somebody tipped it in. You get 12 offensive rebounds, they score on them, I don’t know how many points off of it. But they physically wore us down.”
#21, Alex Caruso, G
On what UK did differently in the second half …
“Foul trouble obviously hurt us a lot. We didn’t have a lot of key guys out there when we needed them. We can’t use that as an excuse, but I think their size and their athleticism wore us down and we can’t allow that to happen. That’s when they got a lot of run outs with two on ones and three on twos, easy layups and our legs got a little tired.”
On focusing on rebounding and how he thought they did …
“In the first half, I thought we did OK. We battled down there, we boxed out, got a couple of generous calls, and then they kind of wore us down as the game went on. I didn’t think we had enough bodies to throw at them. We also didn’t have enough bodies to throw at them and (they were) getting 50-50 balls.”
On halftime adjustments …
“We just wanted to be within striking distance at halftime. We are a scrappy team. That’s what we do until we finish the long plays and the long defensive stops that we need. I think we said to take everything one play at a time, and if we made a mistake, to take it one play at a time. We wanted to keep it to where we could make a run down at the end.”