Kentucky defeated Texas A&M in Rupp Arena in an exciting contest 74-73

Highlights from UK Sports Video

Game Notes from UK Athletics 

ATTENDANCE: 22,643

Final Score: #21/20 Kentucky 74, Texas A&M 73

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M is 11-5 overall, 0-4 in league play.
  • Kentucky leads the series 9-3 and has won four in a row vs. the Aggies.
    • UK leads the series 5-2 in Lexington.
  • Kentucky begins a two-game road swing Saturday at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. CST in Nashville). The game will be televised on ESPN.

In the First Half

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup featured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, PJ Washington, Kevin Knox and Nick Richards for the third time this season. UK is 3-0 with this lineup.
  • Kentucky extended its streak of 1,029 consecutive games with a 3-pointer when Washington hit a long ball at the 17-minute mark.
  • Texas A&M came out hot, making 8 of the first 10 shots for an 18-14 lead. But, the Aggies missed their next six field goals and UK went on a 12-2 run for a 26-20 Wildcat advantage.
  • UK went cold at that point, going over seven minutes without a field goal, but the Cats’ defense and foul shots kept them in the game.
  • Knox swished a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to send UK to intermission with a 37-35 lead.
  • Gilgeous-Alexander led the Wildcats with 12 points, most he has scored this season in the first half.
  • UK is 9-1 this season when leading at halftime.

In the Second Half

  • Tied at 67 with 2:44 remaining, Washington was involved with UK’s next six points:
    • A steal by Washington led to a fast-break layup by Knox.
    • A TAMU turnover was followed by a Washington foul shot.
    • Two TAMU missed foul shots prefaced a Washington driving layup for a 72-67 lead with 58 seconds remaining.
    • Ahead 72-69 with 37 seconds left, Washington got a rebound and hit a free throw.
  • Ahead 73-71 with 15.9 seconds left, Knox hit a free throw.
  • TAMU got a tip-in with five seconds left to make it 74-73.
  • UK missed two foul shots, but a long Aggie pass went out of bounds at the buzzer as UK held on to win.

Team Notes

  • It was a close game throughout, featuring 14 ties and 12 lead changes, and six points was the widest margin for either team during the game.
  • UK shot 55.8 percent from the field, making 24 of 43.
    • UK is 6-0 this season when making at least 50 percent, 10-0 when making at least 46.4 percent.
  • UK outrebounded Texas A&M 28-27.  The Wildcats are 12-0 this season when winning the battle of the boards.
  • UK had only 12 turnovers tonight.  The Cats are 6-0 this season when committing 12 or fewer miscues.
  • UK has won a pair of one-possession games in the last week, 74-71 at LSU and 74-73 tonight.
  • UK is 41-8 under Coach John Calipari in bounce-back games after losses, including 3-0 this season.
  • Kentucky has won 16 in a row in Rupp Arena.

Player Notes

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander notched 16 points and a career-high seven rebounds.
    • Had five assists tonight and has had at least four in six straight games.
  • Hamidou Diallo led the Wildcats with 18 points, 14 of which came in the second half.
    • Scored 10 in a row early in the second half.
  • PJ Washington had 16 points, his third straight game in double figures.
    • With the game tied at 67, Washington was involved with the next six points – a steal which led to a Knox layup, a free throw, a driving layup and a free throw.
  • Kevin Knox tallied 15 points, making all five field goal attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers.
  • Wenyen Gabriel only points came on a 3-pointer.  He’s made at least one 3-pointer in eight consecutive games, the longest such streak for any UK player this season.
  • Quade Green and Tai Wynyard missed the game because of injury.

Coach John Calipari

  • Calipari has a 707-196 all-time on-court record.
  • Calipari is now 262-56 at Kentucky.
  • Calipari is 145-6 at Rupp Arena, including 127-3 against unranked opponents.
  • Calipari is 8-2 vs. Texas A&M in his career.

Postgame interviews 

John Calipari 

Hamidou Diallo

Shai Gilgeous- Alexander

PJ Washington 

Billy Kennedy 

Box Score

Season Stats

Quotes 

From UK Athletics

John Calipari 

Q. Did you see the type of toughness you wanted?
JOHN CALIPARI: Toughness doesn’t mean roughness. Toughness means that you’re engaged, that you’re playing people before they catch the ball, that you’re meeting people before the ball hits the rim when you rebound, that you’re sprinting the floor every time and bouncing, and you’re talking. We got closer. But still that’s going to be a work in progress. Until we get really good at that, we’re going to be who we are. Every team that plays us is going to have a chance.

I mean, I got to give Billy (Kennedy) and A&M credit for the end of the game. They had a chance to beat us. Had a chance. It was like, wait a minute. You miss a couple free throws. How about we were going to switch everything and we left the man in the corner? Yeah, that’s not toughness. See, that means you’re not engaged in what’s going on.

We told them, we’re switching everything. That guy left the corner man. Thank God he missed. I mean, there was another play, an easy switch on a pick’n roll between two guards. Guys didn’t talk. The guy rides right down the middle, shoots a layup. What? You can’t have those. That’s a lack of toughness. You’re not tough enough to stay engaged. Fumbling balls because you’re waiting on contact. You can’t. Catching the ball where you need to catch it. Who does that for us? If you’re watching the game? Most of you don’t watch it. Who is able to catch the ball where they need to catch it almost every time?

Q. P.J. Washington and what he did tonight?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, Larry (Vaught) has been around a hundred years. The rest of you were so quiet because you don’t know s—. Excuse me. And instead of saying the wrong name, you stay silent. Larry had the courage to step up and say P.J. He is tough. I just asked him, he has to take the leadership of this team. He has to do it now. He’s the toughest guy. If a guy is not doing what he has to, you have the ability and the right now to tell him.

I asked the guys after, because I told them prior to the game, when I was at UMass my last year, the year we beat Kentucky. We played five guys. Two guards played 39 minutes, everybody else played 37. I told them that before the game. After the game, I said, You three or four that played the game every minute, how do you feel? I love it. Would you like to do this every game? Yes. So the rest of you can stay hurt. They’re fine.

Guys would like to play every minute of the game. The zone, we did some half decent stuff. But we went man, they’d score five straight times. It was, like, you know, thank goodness I have Tony (Barbee) on the staff, taught me some zone stuff, and I have the courage to do it.

But we won a good game. I mean, folks, just understand, A&M lost three players. They were No. 5 in the country. They beat, I believe, West Virginia. They lost to Arizona. I watched that game. They could have beat Arizona easily. It was a touch-and-go game. They have three guys injured. I want you to understand, if we have three guys injured on this team, we’re not winning. Now, me saying that, could have beaten us, could have beaten LSU. Billy is doing a heck of a job a little shorthanded. They’re going to be fine. They’ll be fine.

Q. I know you missed some free throws late in the game there. There was a stretch at a critical point when you made six in a row. What did you think of that?
JOHN CALIPARI: That was good. Those ones at the end finish off the game and give them no chance. If you want to be fouled late, you got to do it. The other thing is we turned it over twice. Both of them are drills we work on, pivoting, pivoting, pivoting. Every timeout, I said, we have two timeouts and the tie-up is ours. Hand them the ball, just hold it tight. We’ll get it on the side out. The next guy loses it. That’s, again, that toughness I’m talking about to really be engaged and focused in on every possession. It’s not just roughness. The other side of this is what these guys need.

Q. What is Quade’s (Green) situation? What did you think about playing and winning without him?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, we did good. I thought Brad (Calipari) did good for his couple minutes in there. We had to put him in. We had fouls. He went in and did good. I wish he would have made that shot. But I thought he did good. The guys gave him a hand after. It just shows that if he needs to go in the game, he can do it.

But, you know, again, we need to be a little more willing passers. I had to work on the lob yesterday in practice. I’ve never worked on it. We just throw it. Well, this team needs us to work on the lob pass, like you drive and throw that thing up to the goal.

I like Hami’s (Hamidou Diallio) body language and his act today. Here what is I’m saying. If you want to be tough, you can’t try to be cool, you can’t try to be cute, you can’t try to be Hollywood. You can do those things, but you’re not a tough, focused, engaged player. So what I saw today from Hami was an engaged player. He made some mistakes. He broke down a few times. But he’s getting better, he’s getting closer.

Q. Cal, did you know that Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) could play 39 minutes at that level all the way through? Anything about tonight surprise you with him?
JOHN CALIPARI: No. He did ask Quade, Are you going to be hurt next game (smiling)?

Q. John, this toughness you’re talking about, how much of that can a player learn, can you coach, and how much is the personality trait?
JOHN CALIPARI: Some of it is how you think. Give you an example. We had a kid here in 2012 that went one for eight or one for seven in the national championship game, walked in at halftime, was tough enough to say, I can’t make a shot, I’m going to get every rebound, I’m going to block every ball. You score. Darius (Miller), make shots. Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist), you guys go do it. Marcus (Lee), go do your thing. I’m going to do mine blocking and rebounding.

That’s a tough player. Versus walking in with a body language that, I can’t make a shot today, I can’t believe this. You have no toughness. You have no toughness. Tough player deals with what’s there and responds to it. So I’m talking a lot about body language. Body language screams. It screams for everybody to see. In most cases it’s an immaturity thing. The second part of it is, a little lack of toughness, mental toughness, that I’m not getting broken down because I missed a couple shots, fumbled a ball, missed a free throw. I don’t care. I’m tough.

I didn’t think I had to teach them this, but I pulled out the toughness sheet and we read what toughness is. As I read it to them, Are we that? No. Are we this? No. Are we this, this, this? No. Do we talk? No.

My point to them is, how we think has to change if you want how you’re playing to change, how you approach this stuff. I’ve had to do this with every team, probably more so with this team. But I’ve not had a team this young before.

Q. You said on your radio showed yesterday that Jarred (Vanderbilt) changed the practice. What can he bring to this team? How close is he to getting in the game?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yesterday and even today, I loved him in the shootaround. He’s just not mentally ready to go on the court. I basically told him, Listen, when you go in, you’re going to play seven or eight minutes a half, limited minutes for a while. I’m going to put you out there, let you run around, let you feel good about yourself and you’re out. But he’s going to have to make that decision. It’s more mental. I mean, he can play. He couldn’t play 40 minutes or anything like that, but he can play. What he does, I never remembered him being as physically strong as he is. He changed up practice. It was physical.

I’m going to tell what else Jarred is. He’s a willing passer. When he gets it, the other team loves it because that team that’s playing with them know he’s passing. He’s a willing passer, which this team needs. It would be nice, but I’m not challenging him. I’d like it to be his first game, a home game, so he can get some love, kind of work through what he’s got to work through. I’d rather have that than a road game. But I’m going to leave that up to him.

Q. How do you balance with P.J. being the leader and kind of the rock, with missing free throws down the stretch when you expect a lot of close games?
JOHN CALIPARI: He made the ones that stretched the game and got us where we were. He missed some ones down the stretch. Now I will put the ball in his hands late to make him get fouled so that you’re going to have to make them.

If it costs us a game somewhere along the game, it helps him get to understand, I’m not missing these late. And Kevin missed those late. I mean, we got to have them at the line, then they’ve got to do it themselves. It’s not me cheering them on, You’re all right, you’re going to be good. It’s them having demonstrated performance late in a game, making those free throws.

But when you watch P.J. today, can you see how bad we were missing him at Tennessee in the second half? Had no chance of winning the game without him on the floor, at least 15 minutes. No chance. Their team just went to work on us. It was like a combination.

Q. Kevin (Knox) did have 15 points tonight.
JOHN CALIPARI: He was good. The second half of the second half, he was really good. That’s what we should expect from him. He’s one of best players in the country. But you got to come up with balls. You got to play tough. He did late. Did you see the layups he made, the plays he made? He’s capable of that. Well, why would I settle for threes and perimeter shots? Because they’re easier. It’s easier. I may turn it over, they may grab me, I may miss it. That’s young. Again, that toughness that we’re looking for.

Let me just say this. Where they are now, you have to admit, P.J. is not even the same player he was a month and a half ago. Would you say? He’s not even the same player. You look at Wenyen (Gabriel) getting better. Looking at Shai, no one knew. Nick (Richards) has taken a little step back. It’s all based on toughness, staying engaged. Do you remember the pass in the zone that went right by him with three seconds to go in the zone? From that point on, he stayed in a stance and played like this, erect, standing straight up. They struggled to get it by him.

Sasha (Killeya-Jones) is getting better. But we need those guys to play with a sense of urgency, a desperation, a toughness.

Thanks.

Kentucky Player Quotes

#22, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Fr., G

On what they missed from Quade Green…

“His ability to spread the floor and make shots. He’s also a great leader on the floor. He takes a lot of pressure off of me on the ball.”

On if he did anything different before the game to prepare because he had to play more minutes…

“I drank a lot of fluids. I got in the steam shower this morning. I stretched before the game and it started last night. I just drank a lot of fluids last night and made sure I was ready for tonight.

On what he thought about Jarred Vanderbilt being back in practice…

“He gives us another element. I think he’s a match-up problem. We can create more stuff off the dribble at the four spot. He was really tough in practice, physical. He made us better yesterday in practice and I can’t wait for him to get back fully.”

#25, PJ Washington, R. Fr., F

On how much they think they did better on the toughness scale today…

“I feel like we did better, we fought in the second half and we obviously got the win, so that was big for us.”

On UK being tired and fighting through it…

“We only had eight players today, with Q (Quade Green) injured and that was big for us. Brad (Calipari) stepped up in the first half and it was great to just see him out there on the floor.”

“On Coach Calipari asking him to take the lead of the team …

“It just means for me to be more vocal and leading these guys to victories obviously, and just having their backs and just talking on both ends of the floor.”

On what it means to be a two-way player …

“It means that if I am a two-way player, I feel like that we can get victories. I’ll be there night in and night out. I feel like if I do that everybody will be alright.”

#3, Hamidou Diallo, R. Fr, G

On this game being a “gut check” …

“It was a great game. When it came down to the end, like most of the games we are going to play in the SEC league. It got tougher I feel, and we came out with the “W.” That was big for us.”

On the team (7 scholarship players) coming out with a win…

“I mean I feel we have the best players in the country on our team. When a couple of guys go down or a couple of guys are injured, I feel like we can still battle out and come out with a “W.” That’s what we did today.”

On Jarred getting closer to coming back and his performance in practice…

“He’s been playing great. He’s been bringing a lot of energy to practice. He’s on a timetable. He’s just going to take his time and make the right decision to play when the time is right.”

Texas A&M Head Coach Billy Kennedy

Opening Statement …

“Had our opportunities in a hard fought game. I thought that we needed to make big free throws and big shots. We got good looks, we just didn’t knock them down. We had some opportunities, we just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch and put them at the free throw line in one stretch that was critical. I think they shot six or eight free throws in a row and we had a hard time guarding them without fouling. At the end there, I didn’t see what happened, but that’s a tough call for somebody to make. I know my guy is telling me it was a bear hug, but I don’t know if the clock went out on them or what happened there. It’s something I’ve got to go watch.”

On good looks from three …

“As good as you’re going to get. Our best shooters, and we just missed them. We had great opportunity to make open shots throughout the game I thought, against the zone you have to make shots. It was good having Admon Gilder in the back and DJ Hogg, they can definitely make a difference. But, they just missed some shots that they just need to make.”

On how Texas A&M showed resilience …

“It’s only going to get better. I thought we got better today. We did some things better against LSU. We’re still shorthanded with Duane Wilson not being back. We hope to have him back against Tennessee, he’ll add some perimeter experience with the point guard and another he’s guy that can make the 3. I thought Tyler Davis did a good job. Robert Williams, I think he got tired and missed some free throws that he’s capable of making and he practiced those a whole lot—I think you could see that in his late performance.”

On Robert Williams taking a while to get going offensively …

“He missed three days this week with the flu. He didn’t play in this last game so he hadn’t played since the Florida game. He’s got to get his conditioning back so he can be ready to compete.”

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