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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A blue-blood beatdown

Aggies win in historic fashion, downing No. 6 Kentucky in an instant classic
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  • Graduate F Wildens Levequw (10) walks out during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) hugs junior G Manny Obeseki (25) during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Students hold up the BTHO posters during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)

  • Fans during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Junior G Jace Carter (0) grabs the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) dribbles the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Kentucky F Ugonna Onyenso (33) grabs the ballduring Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Texas A&M Football head coach Mike Elko during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) jumps during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Kentucky F Ugonna Onyenso (33) during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Sophomore F Solomon Washington (13) during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Sophomore F Solomon Washington (13) questions a call during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Kentucky assistant coach Ronald Coleman during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) shoots the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) shoots the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Players reach for the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Senior F Henry Coleman (15) watches the 4-minute timer video during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) lies on the court after being called for an offensive foul during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at Reed Arena on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Sophomore G Solomon Washington (13) and senior F Andersson Garcian(11) help graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) up during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)

  • Matthew Phillips, 22, cheers during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) celebrates with junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) as senior F Andersson Garcia is fouled during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at Reed Arena on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

  • Junior G Wade Taylor (4) and graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Sophomore F Solomon Washington (13) during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Fans during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena.(Ishka Samant/The Battalion)

  • Sophomore G Jace Carter (0) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)

  • Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) and sophomore G Wade Taylor (4) celebrate after Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)

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In 2015, Texas A&M took undefeated No. 1 Kentucky to double overtime before falling, the Wildcats’ closest game of the season before their national championship loss later in the year. In 2016, Tyler Davis won it for A&M in overtime with a last-second putback off the glass. In that same year, Kentucky got revenge in the SEC championship game, knocking off the Maroon and White.

The Aggies and Wildcats have been no strangers to historic contests, and on Jan. 13, 2023, a new chapter was written as A&M rallied for its first SEC win in overtime against No. 6 Kentucky.

After dropping their first two SEC contests, the outlook for A&M’s third conference contest seemed bleak. Having to square off against the No. 6 team in the country amid a major shooting slump is a tough ask for any team in the country.

The Aggies then scored their season high in points, out-dueling the Wildcat’s offense for coach Buzz Williams’ first victory over Kentucky.

Texas A&M played well. They deserved to win the game.”

— John Calipari, Kentucky head coach

Tyrece Radford’s return to form is the biggest win of the season

Before the season began, the backcourt combination of junior guard Wade Taylor IV and graduate G Tyrece Radford were expected to not only be one of the best in the country, but the nation.

An undisclosed injury to Radford in the FAU game derailed that train early, as the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native then missed the next six games, only playing sparingly against Memphis. During that stretch, the Aggies lost three games to Virginia, Memphis and Houston. Even after coming back from injury, it seemed Radford was still struggling to get back into a groove.

He found it against Kentucky.

Radford exploded against the Wildcats, almost securing a 28-point double-double with nine rebounds. He shot 50% from the field, hitting three 3s in the process.

It’s no question the Aggies’ offense has struggled to start conference play, and a lot of that weight has fallen on Taylor. The Dallas native had 8 points on 2-16 shooting against Auburn, and was 27.8% from the field in SEC play.

If Radford continues to play like he did against Kentucky, it’s a victory for the Aggies on two fronts. For one, it gives you back your hard-nose, downhill scorer from last season. But more importantly, it makes other teams have to prepare for not just Taylor. This gives the offense both freedom and options, something they’ve desperately needed.

The Aggies went blow-for-blow with the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense

Coming into the game, Kentucky had already proven themselves as one of the nation’s elite offenses. Led by prospective lottery picks in guards Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard and D.J. Wagner, the Wildcats had only failed to score 80 once.

The Aggies, on the other hand, were the 215th scoring offense, and had only cracked 80 four times. A&M had yet to play a team as fast as Kentucky, who was averaging 1.37 points per possession in the first six seconds of the shot clock, according to Williams.

The Maroon and White sank 12 3s, only three less than Kentucky on seven less shots, and shot 40% from the field in their victory.

From the jump, A&M grabbed the lead in the first half and did not look back, only surrendering the lead once late in the first off of a 3 from senior G Antonio Reeves, but the Aggies quickly regained a 1-point advantage to take into halftime.

In the second half, it seemed the Maroon and White had ran out of steam, as Kentucky held a 7-point lead at the 12:14 mark, its largest of the game. Despite this, the Aggies clawed their way back in front at the 6-minute mark.

A&M had lost two shootouts this season in FAU and Houston. This time, the Maroon and White found a way to win the scoring battle against one of the nation’s best. 

If the Aggies can maintain this momentum, paired with their defense that had held their last five opponents before Kentucky to 70 or less, A&M could be back on the track that many expected them to be in the preseason.

The bench had the biggest impact on the game, but not on the scoreboard

While Taylor and Radford lit up the scoreboard, A&M’s victory would not have happened if the role players of the bench did not step up in a big way.

Sophomore forward Solomon Washington missed the last two games with injury, and his return could not have come at a better time. The New Orleans native only had 7 points, but what the stat sheet doesn’t show is how he was tasked with defending some of the nation’s best guards for 25 minutes.

On the other hand, senior F Andersson Garcia, who referred to Washington as “his twin”, made crucial plays down the stretch to keep A&M in it long enough to secure victory. The nation’s fourth-best offensive rebounder snagged four offensive boards, but his most important metric is his five steals. His final steal gave the Aggies a 2-point advantage at the end of regulation, which allowed A&M to hold on and force overtime.

“Those two guys know their role and how important they are to our team,” Taylor said. “I think once they check in they know exactly what to do to make sure we excel in the right way.”

Points are important, and the emergence of the Maroon and White’s guards in this game cannot be understated. But the performances from A&M’s role players was the key to the Aggies’ victory today.

“Solo is more vocal than Andy,” Radford said. “Andy brings it through his game, through the hustle plays, the rebounding. He harps on that. He is a live-or-die rebounder. Every game, he’ll tell whoever shoots the ball, ‘Shoot the ball, I’m going to go get it. I don’t care, just shoot it.’ That’s the energy Andy brings without saying a lot.”

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About the Contributor
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor
Hunter Mitchell is a sport management senior minoring in journalism. Hunter has covered football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, hockey, cross country, track and field, along with swim and dive. Hunter's favorite sport is college basketball, and he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. Hunter also hosts weekly episodes of the Home Turf sports podcast.
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