COLLEGE STATION, Texas — After Kentucky outlasted Texas A&M 70-64 in two overtimes, Coach John Calipari said he'd rather not see the Cats try to continue winning the same way.
"Our veterans have got to get this right for our team," he said. "Not our young guys."
This day belonged to the freshmen.
Devin Booker led Kentucky with 18 points, one shy of a career high.
"He's a special player," A&M Coach Billy Kennedy said of Booker. "A kid that can shoot who has poise. He doesn't play like a freshman. I think he's an X factor on their team."
In defining X factor, Kennedy noted that the UK player's father, Melvin Booker, was the then-Big Eight Conference Player of the Year.
"He has a great feel for how to play," Kennedy said of the younger Booker. "Kind of like Elston Turner."
UK fans may recall Turner scored 40 points to lead the Aggies to a victory at Kentucky two years ago.
"He comes from a different background, basketball-wise," Kennedy said of Booker. "He's not your typical freshman."
Without Booker's three three-pointers in the first half, Kentucky might have trailed by 15 at intermission, Calipari said.
Another freshman, Tyler Ulis, made arguably the game's biggest shot: a three-pointer to put the Cats ahead 66-63 in the second overtime. "Huge," Kennedy said.
Trey Lyles got Kentucky into the second overtime by making two free throws with 6.1 seconds left in the first.
Karl-Anthony Towns flirted with a double-double: nine points and nine rebounds.
But sophomores Andrew and Aaron Harrison combined to make only six of 30 shots (three of 17 from three-point range).
One of Andrew Harrison's misses was a contested layup inside the final 30 seconds of overtime when UK led 53-51 and was in the double-bonus.
"Mental lapse," Calipari said. "I don't know why I didn't yell: Pull it out! Pull it out! I didn't think I had to, but I should have."
On the plus side, Aaron Harrison contributed three steals and seven rebounds despite shooting poorly (4-for-20, including 2-for-13 from three-point range).
But, Calipari said Aaron Harrison should have gotten to the foul line more than twice. He called Harrison's many jumpers "bail-out" shots.
Andrew Harrison had five assists and only one turnover in 33 minutes.
Don't bet on it
Kennedy cautioned against thinking Kentucky will run the table. The combination of a UK team dependent on freshmen and sophomores, plus playing nine SEC road games, makes it unlikely.
"I'm not saying they won't go undefeated," he said. "If I was a bettor in Vegas, I'd bet they're not going undefeated. That's almost impossible in league play."
Ole Miss emboldens
A&M players said that Ole Miss taking UK into overtime on Tuesday helped them believe they could win.
"We took a lot of confidence from it because we saw the game," Danuel House said.
Added Alex Caruso: "There's no team we fear. .... We're not calling anybody out, but we expect to win every game. Seeing them play Ole Miss so close, we knew they're not supermen. They're not invincible."
Insult of SEC?
House saw insult in the many ESPN analysts who've spoken of Kentucky winning every SEC game as a fait accompli.
"Totally," he said. "It was like a slap in the face. It basically was saying that we shouldn't even show up to even compete with (UK). We should just go ahead and crown them SEC champs."
Kentucky is a great team, House said, before adding, "But talking about just giving them the SEC championship without a fight, that's not possible."
Calipari said he would give Kentucky a needed day off Sunday.
"Get away from each other and self-reflect," he said. "Including me. Let's just figure out where we go with this. Right now, we're not very good."
Calipari cited several problem areas:
■ Players walking out of a timeout having not paid attention to the plan. "Which means they're into themselves," he said.
■ Rushing at "non-shooters," who simply drove around the oncoming UK defenders.
■ Looking for foul calls. "Like having 8-year-olds," he said.
Andrew Harrison is playing despite pain in a hip, Calipari said. A collision with Dakari Johnson in a "nothing drill" in Friday's practice aggravated the discomfort, the UK coach said.
Calipari said he took Harrison out of the game when he saw the player limping. Harrison wanted to return, but Calipari said he chose not to do that.
A&M came into the game ranked 13th among the 14 SEC teams in free throw accuracy. The problems continued against UK.
Although the Aggies made five more baskets, 16-for-30 shooting from the line spelled defeat.
When asked what A&M might try to produce better accuracy, Kennedy said, "You got an idea?"