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Kentucky basketball: Five things to know about the Texas A&M Aggies

Texas A&M head basketball coach Billy Kennedy has watched his team stumble to an 0-3 SEC start after being 11-1 and ranked fifth in the nation.
Texas A&M head basketball coach Billy Kennedy has watched his team stumble to an 0-3 SEC start after being 11-1 and ranked fifth in the nation. Associated Press

Five things to know about Kentucky basketball’s next opponent, the Texas A&M Aggies.

1. Like Tennessee last Saturday, Texas A&M is desperate for an SEC win

The only difference is that Kentucky had to go on the road to face the Vols, who were 0-2 in league play before a strong second half knocked off the Cats, 76-65. Texas A&M brings the league’s only winless record (0-3) to Rupp Arena on Tuesday night.

Hoops hopes for 2017-18 were high in College Station, as the Aggies returned their top five scorers from last season in Tyler Davis, Admon Gilder, DJ Hogg, Robert Williams and Tony Trocha-Morelos. Point guard JJ Caldwell, ruled ineligible last season, also made his college debut.

A&M started the season by pounding then-No. 11 West Virginia, 88-65. It also defeated then No. 10 USC 75-59 on the way to a 7-0 start before losing 67-64 to Arizona in Phoenix. They were 11-1 in pre-conference play before taking losses to Alabama (79-57), Florida (83-66) and LSU (69-68).

The loss to LSU was particularly painful, as A&M led 68-63 before LSU freshman Tremont Waters hit two deep three-pointers, the game-winner with 0.3 seconds left, to stun the Aggies.

After climbing all the way up to No. 5 in the AP college basketball poll, the Aggies have fallen out of the rankings.

2. Injuries have had much to do with the tailspin

Thanks to disciplinary actions and injuries, Kennedy's team has played short-handed in 14 of the team’s 15 games.

Williams was suspended for the season’s first two games. All total, he has missed five games this season, including the LSU game because of illness. Caldwell was suspended for the season’s first four games. Duane Wilson has missed the past two games with a knee injury. Gilder has missed the past five games with an injury.

[Texas A&M basketball roster]

Hogg was back for the LSU game after serving a three-game suspension. The 6-foot-9 junior, who paces the Aggies in scoring at 14.4 points per game, made three of nine shots, though just one of five from three-point range, and finished with 12 points.

Hogg scored 19 in the Aggies’ season-opening thrashing of West Virginia. His season high is 24 points against UC Santa Barbara. In the first three games of the season, Hogg was 13 of 20 from three-point range. He made five threes in a win over Savannah State. For the season, he’s shooting 47.9 percent (35 of 73) from beyond the arc.

3. Texas A&M’s inside play is considered its strength

Kentucky fans are familiar with Davis, the 6-10 junior from Plano, Texas, who is averaging 14.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. He averaged 14.1 points and seven rebounds as a junior after averaging 11.3 points and 6.2 rebounds as a freshman in 2015-16.

Davis produced his fifth double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds against LSU. He’s shooting 59.3 percent from the floor.

Last season, Davis had 13 points and two rebounds against UK in College Station, and he scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Lexington. As a freshman, he managed 15 points and 12 rebounds against the Cats in College Station, then had 15 points and 16 rebounds in A&M’s overtime loss to UK in the SEC Tournament title game.

Williams, a 6-10 sophomore from Oil City, La., is considered A&M’s best prospect but is averaging only 8.4 points per game so far this season. He is averaging 10 rebounds and has made 55.2 percent of his shots.

Last season, Williams scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds against Kentucky at Rupp. Later in the season at A&M, he showed his talents, scoring 20 points and snatching 13 rebounds.

4. This should be Billy Kennedy’s best team in College Station

The 53-year-old Louisiana native is 126-89 in his seventh season as the A&M coach. His teams have gone 14-18, 18-15, 18-16, 21-12, 28-9 and 16-15 before this season’s 11-4 mark. His 2015-16 team, his only A&M team to make the NCAA Tournament, reached the Sweet 16.

Kennedy’s first head coaching job was at Centenary in 1997. After going 24-34 in two seasons, he returned to his alma mater, Southeastern Louisiana, where he was 80-92 in five years. His last two teams went 20-9 and 24-9, the latter earning an NCAA Tournament bid.

Kennedy was then hired at Murray State, where he went 107-53 over five seasons, with an NCAA Tournament win in 2010. When Mark Turgeon left Texas A&M for Maryland, Kennedy was hired as head coach.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011, Kennedy appears to be managing well with the disease. He has said changes in his diet and exercise have helped him in the fight.

5. As a rule, the Aggies play Kentucky tough

Since switching from the Big 12 to the SEC in 2012-13, Texas A&M is just 2-6 against Kentucky. Four of the eight games have gone to overtime, however. UK won three of those OT games.

In 2012-13, Kentucky pulled out a 72-68 overtime win in College Station after losing to the Aggies 81-73 in Lexington when Elston Turner scored 40 points on the Cats at Rupp.

In 2014-15 in College Station, the two teams again went to overtime before Kentucky registered a 70-64 win to improve to 15-0. UK would go 38-1 that year, losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four.

In 2015-16, Kentucky lost 79-77 in overtime in College Station when Isaac Humphries was whistled for a technical foul for celebrating a key blocked shot. UK earned revenge with an 82-77 overtime win over the Aggies in the SEC Tournament final in Nashville.

Last season, the Cats drilled A&M 100-58 in Lexington in January. Two months later in the regular season finale in College Station, Kentucky triumphed 71-63.

Texas A&M at Kentucky

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Rupp Arena in Lexington

TV: ESPN with Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Laura Rutledge

Radio: UK Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt

UK Radio Network affiliates

SEC basketball standings

Team

W

L

W

L

Florida

3

0

11

4

Auburn

2

0

14

1

Kentucky

2

1

12

3

Ole Miss

2

1

9

6

Miss State

1

1

13

2

Missouri

1

1

11

4

Georgia

1

1

10

3

Alabama

1

1

9

5

LSU

1

1

10

4

Arkansas

1

2

11

4

Vanderbilt

1

2

6

9

Tennessee

1

2

10

4

South Carolina

1

2

10

5

Texas A&M

0

3

11

4

Texas A&M basketball 2017-18

Date

Opponent

TxAM

Opp

Dec

Rec

SEC

11/10

vs. West Virginia

88

65

W

1-0

 

11/17

UC Santa Barbara

84

65

W

2-0

 

11/20

vs. Oklahoma St.

72

55

W

3-0

 

11/21

vs. Penn State

98

87

W

4-0

 

11/24

Pepperdine

81

65

W

5-0

 

11/26

USC

75

59

W

6-0

 

11/30

UT Rio Grande Valley

78

60

W

7-0

 

12/5

vs. Arizona

64

67

L

7-1

 

12/9

vs. Prairie View A&M

73

53

W

8-1

 

12/13

Savannah State

113

66

W

9-1

 

12/19

Northern Kentucky

64

58

W

10-1

 

12/21

Buffalo

89

73

W

11-1

 

12/30

@Alabama

57

79

L

11-2

0-1

1/2

Florida

66

83

L

11-3

0-2

1/6

LSU

68

69

L

11-4

0-3

1/9

@Kentucky

     

1/13

@Tennessee

     

1/16

Ole Miss

     

1/20

Missouri

     

1/23

@LSU

     

1/27

@Kansas

     

1/30

Arkansas

     

2/3

South Carolina

     

2/7

@Auburn

     

2/10

Kentucky

     

2/13

@Missouri

     

2/17

@Arkansas

     

2/20

Miss State

     

2/24

@Vanderbilt

     

2/28

@Georgia

     

3/3

Alabama

     
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