If Kentucky wants to shake off their recent cold spell, they’ll have to do it on the road against Texas A&M in front of a hostile crowd in College Station.
Back on January 9, the Wildcats edged out the Aggies by a final score of 74-73, led by Hamidou Diallo with 18 points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 16. A controversial no-call on a pass interference by Wenyen Gabriel in the game’s final seconds helped seal the victory.
Tomorrow night at 8:15 p.m., A&M will get their opportunity for revenge with some momentum in their corner.
What have the Aggies been up to since our last matchup?
Let’s take a look:
They just knocked off No. 8 Auburn
To help prepare themselves for their epic rematch with Kentucky, Texas A&M managed to knock off a top-ten team in the nation and the No. 1 team in the SEC. On the road.
Not too shabby.
TJ Starks led the upset with 23 points on 8-12 shooting from the field, followed by sophomore stud Robert Williams with 16 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Duane Wilson drilled a free throw with four seconds remaining to take the tight lead, and the Aggies held on as time expired.
The win over the Tigers gave A&M their second victory over a top-10 opponent this season, as the Aggies also managed a 75-59 win over then-No. 10 USC back in November.
They’re 3-3 vs. ranked teams this season, with their third victory coming over West Virginia back in November, as well. Along with their loss to Kentucky back in January, the Aggies have also fallen to No. 5 Kansas and No. 24 Tennessee.
They’re trending back up
To start the season, Texas A&M looked like one of the most formidable teams in America. They climbed all the way up to No. 5 in the rankings, and most thought they had the SEC title in the bag.
When conference play began, however, Texas A&M lost five straight, and seven of nine total games. They dropped out of the rankings entirely after just three of those losses.
The Aggies have a three-game winning streak on the line tomorrow night after victories over Arkansas, South Carolina, and Auburn.
Their two-headed monster in the frontcourt is deadly
In Kentucky’s first matchup with A&M, Tyler Davis and Robert Williams combined for 33 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, and a steal. PJ Washington had his moments, both offensively and defensively, against the dynamic duo, but there wasn’t much the Wildcats could do to slow them down.
Fast forward one month, and the Aggie frontcourt is just as deadly, if not more.
In the last seven games, Williams has averaged 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, while shooting 77% from the floor. In the same span, Davis has managed four double-doubles and is averaging 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest.
Davis was just named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award watch list and Williams was named to the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award watch list.
If Kentucky wants to have a chance in College Station, the Wildcat frontcourt has to step up and contain these two.
Tonny Trocha-Morelos (still) exists
Back in 2012, Colombian prospect Tony Trocha was reportedly down to Kentucky and Texas A&M, and would join one of those teams as a mid-year enrollee.
The Wildcats offered him a scholarship, and Trocha’s coach told The Cats Pause, “(The coaching staff) said he’s a little shorter than Anthony Davis but his skill set is higher.” Many thought if he received the proper test scores, he was a lock to end up at Kentucky.
He decided to hold off on the mid-year enrollment, and eventually, contact between both parties died out.
Fast forward six years, and Trocha, now Tonny Trocha-Morelos, is still playing college basketball.
The senior big man currently averages 7.8 points and 4.7 rebounds a game for the Aggies. He has hit double-figure points in 10 of 22 games this season, including one near-triple-double against Savannah State back in December.
Health is no longer a concern
At least one scholarship player for the Aggies has been out in every game this season but five due to injury. Scholarship players have missed 30 total games due injury, illness, discipline, etc.
Three of those players were nine-plus PPG scorers, and two others were key role players off the bench.
Now, Texas A&M is completely healthy for their matchup with the Cats.
Unfortunately for them, we’re (roughly) back to full strength, too.
Let’s right this ship and come out of College Station with a victory.