Kentucky just lost their third game in a row for the first time in the Calipari era.
And if it weren’t for a late run by the Cats, they would’ve been run out of the gym in College Station.
From the 16:29 mark to 11:13 remaining in the first half, the Wildcats went scoreless, their eighth five-minute scoring drought of the season.
For those keeping track at home, Kentucky has lost in every one of those instances.
After the drought, however, the Cats managed to fight their way back for a 30-26 lead in the first half. The Aggies were ice-cold from the floor, but continued to jack shots up, finishing just 2-14 from the three-point line at intermission. The Kentucky defense zeroed in, and the offense followed it up by finishing on three consecutive baskets to turn a 26-22 deficit into a four-point lead.
To start the second half, however, the Aggies jumped out on a 17-2 run, and the Cats never managed to climb back. A&M made a complete turnaround from their cold streak in the first half, starting the second by going six of six from deep.
Missed defensive assignments, blown offensive rebounds, crucial turnovers, not getting back on defense, poor shot selection, etc. You name the negative, you saw it in the first ten minutes of the second half, and there was nothing the Cats could do to make a full recovery.
Like we’ve seen in each of the last three games, Kentucky made a late push, but the comeback effort came far too late. The Aggies held a 23-point lead with just under six minutes remaining, but the Cats managed to cut that lead to eight with 57 seconds remaining. After the foul game commenced, A&M hit four consecutive free throws to push the lead out of reach, and Kentucky’s third straight loss was finalized.
To put the icing on the cake, the Texas A&M student section sang the Happy Birthday song to John Calipari on his 59th birthday.
The entire Aggie starting lineup scored ten points or more, led by TJ Starks with 17 points. Robert Williams and Tyler Davis, A&M’s dynamic duo in the frontcourt, combined for 24 points, 17 rebounds, and six blocks. It was an all-around beatdown to bring the Texas A&M winning streak to four games.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander held up his end of the deal, leading the Cats with 19 points (9-12 shooting), eight assists, three rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. From the start of the game, he was able to get wherever he wanted on the court at will, and continued to prove he is the best player on the team.
Kevin Knox also found his shot, finishing with 18 points on 7-15 shooting and 3-5 from behind the arc. In each of Kentucky’s runs throughout the game, Knox converted on big shots, including one huge three at the end of the game.
After contributing absolutely nothing in the first half, Hamidou Diallo finished fairly well, scoring 13 points on 5-11 shooting with two rebounds. Quade Green added eight points, four rebounds, and an assist in 26 minutes of action. Jarred Vanderbilt also managed seven points and seven rebounds, and provided just about the only bit of consistent energy on the Wildcat roster.
PJ Washington was a force on the glass, but the Kentucky frontcourt was mostly a no-show against the talented Aggie big men. Wenyen Gabriel, Washington, and Nick Richards combined for just nine points total on 3-14 shooting, with an even worse performance on the defensive end of the floor. With Sacha Killeya-Jones out tonight, there were glaring holes here.
Brad Calipari even got some run in the first half, leading the entire team with a plus-four on the day. (Yes you read that correctly.)
With the Cats heading to No. 8 Auburn on Wednesday night, a four-game losing streak is staring us right in the eyes.
We’re officially in danger territory, folks.