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Cats got “outworked” at times but beat Texas A&M 85-74

Ashton Hagans (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

It was a game that’s hard to explain.

Kentucky fell behind 10-0 to Texas A&M — a team most expect to be near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference — before going on a dominating run to take a 35-21 lead and 48-34 halftime lead.

But in the second half, the Cats reverted or lost their mojo again or something. Kentucky led just 68-66 with 6:16 to play before finally winning 85-74 with a performance that again left John Calipari perplexed.

“We are still so inexperienced,” the UK coach said. “They don’t understand whatever the game plan is, one guy can’t choose just to do what he wants. We got some guys who did not play as well as they needed to play. We got some guys who just got outworked. We are breaking down execution and it is driving me crazy. This has to be a team playing together.”

After getting outrebounded in Saturday’s loss at Alabama, UK got beat again on the boards 29-28. The Cats got 42 points in the paint, but gave up 32.

Tyler Herro led UK with 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting and had five rebounds and one assist. He also had four turnovers.

“Tyler did a great job fighting in the second half. That’s what got him in the lane,” Calipari said.

Guard Ashton Hagans went 10-for-11 at the foul line and finished with 18 points, five steals and four assists.

“People act like he can’t shoot but he can,” Calipari said. “He also anticipates (on defense) and gets his hands on balls. If he sees an opportunity to go after a ball, he does.”

Immanuel Quickley came off the bench to contribute 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting, three steals and two assists. Kentucky got 22 points off 19 A&M turnovers.

“Immanuel is playing within who he is and playing great,” Calipari said.

Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said UK’s strength gave the Aggies trouble.

“Their physicality gave us some problems and they got to the foul line too many times,” Kennedy said. “They are so balanced and have so many guys that can score. Quickley coming off the bench is a threat. Herro is capable in stretches of taking over the game offensively. We had a hard time guarding him.”

He said Hagans was the best defensive guard his team has faced. “But he also did a great job running their team and knowing when to attack,” Kennedy said.

He also said Kentucky didn’t panic when the lead got down to two points.

“They just kept playing and executing,” he said.

Calipari said the team might have split apart after wins over North Carolina and Louisville when they came together “out of fear” because they thought they might lose.

“If they split, that’s my fault,” Calipari said. “We just have to stay with it.”

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  1. You have got to feel a little sympathy for all the paying, passionate fans that attend home games and expect to see a very good home team playing hard and trying to defend home turf. This is not, by any stretch, a quality, well coached team. The sky may not be falling but Cal continues to show and reinforce that he is slipping on recruiting and coaching fronts. We again got out rebounded by a smaller, less talented team that I think only had 8 scholarship players. We are not a good 3 pt shooting, 3 pt defending, or passing team. We have maybe 3-4 guys that come to play every game and the rest seem content just putting on the uniform. P.J. Poythress seems content just playing no more than a half at a time. Reid is now showing that he really has lost confidence in everything that brought him here. TG for Herro because we would have lost without his effort. This is shaping up to be a very long year, and I hope we are able to get past the first round of the NIT..you did hear that correct.

  2. Let’s face it. Reid and PJ are lazy and selfish. If the offense is not running through them, they slack off and sulk. This team has no chemistry as they are more concerned about getting their shots than getting a win. They should have outrebounded this team, a team that started 4 guards, by 20 and outscored them by 25. Cal is going to have to start playing Nick and EJ more, even if they lose. Reid and PJ must learn that they can’t hold this team hostage. Quickley and Baker deserve more PT but then you get a pissed Hagans and Herro. Johnson just disappears to much. I see this team playing on Thursday in the SEC tournament.

  3. Cal is looking old and tired.
    His heart just doesn’t seem to be in it and I can’t help but wonder if the players sense that also.

  4. I’m hoping this team is saving there best for the February and March when it counts. But I’m not holding my breath on it. If this team don’t get there act together when we play Kansas, Auburn,and Tennessee we maybe hurting more than the Duke game.

  5. I am just thankful UK won this game. Besides, UK is fast becoming a football school. Dan Issel taking pictures of Benny Snell during a basketball game proves that. GO CATS!!!!

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