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The Battalion

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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Dominant second half lifts the Aggies over No. 24 Kentucky

Over+13%2C000+fans+showed+up+to+watch+the+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+mens+basketball+face+Kentucky.
Photo by Photo by Kevin Chou

Over 13,000 fans showed up to watch the Texas A&M men’s basketball face Kentucky.

With 13,263 fans in attendance for the sold out game, Texas A&M men’s basketball defeated No. 24 Kentucky 85-74 for the Aggies fourth straight win. 

The crowd included former A&M quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel, seated courtside, and A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher.

  

 

Prior to the game, head coach Billy Kennedy said a deciding factor would be the matchup down low between Kentucky big men PJ Washington and Kevin Knox and Aggie big men Robert Williams and Tyler Davis. Kentucky’s duo outscored A&M’s 13-8 in the first half.

Kentucky sat in zone defense for the majority of the half, which made it difficult for the Aggie pair to find their stride in the crowded paint. The zone defense gave the Aggies space on the perimeter to shoot 14 three-point shots in the first half, though only two were successful. 

A&M junior forward DJ Hogg was the only Aggie to make a three-pointer in the half, netting both of them. Hogg also picked up the duo’s slack on the defensive end, grabbing six rebounds in the half.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair and saw eight lead changes. The Wildcats led the Aggies 30-26 at the end of the first half.

A&M started the second half on a 26-6 run thanks in part to four three-pointers — two from Admon Gilder, one from DJ Hogg and one from TJ Starks.

After netting just 14 percent (2-of-14) of their three-point shots in the first half, the Aggies caught fire from behind the arc throughout the second half. A&M finished the half netting 78 percent (7-of-9) from downtown. The Aggies also found success via the dunk off of alley-oops, throwing down seven in the game.

“What they did to us in the second half [was bad],” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “You can’t let them have lob-dunk, lob-dunk, you just don’t do it. You foul or do something, you’re not going to give them that.”

After losing their four-point halftime lead in the first minute of the half, the Wildcats never regained their lead in the game. It seemed like everything went the Aggies’ way from there on, as shown in their two three-pointers that hit the backboard and swooshed the net.

“The bank was open, as we say,” Kennedy said. “We made two of them, which is very rare. It was just our night, we made shots and banked shots in, really in the second half.”

The sold out Reed Arena crowd was electric throughout the game and Williams said it fueled the Aggies’ second half run.

“I think it was the first time that we had been in a packed, crowded gym for us,” Williams said. “Seeing the crowd go crazy like when DJ hit a three was my first time seeing that. It was the ultimate confidence boost. The crowd really helped us push through.”

A&M posted 85 points in the game, their fourth straight game passing the 80-point mark. Kennedy attributes the increase in offensive production to the Aggies limiting their turnovers and converting the opposing team’s turnovers into fastbreak points. The Aggies committed just nine turnovers and netted 18 fastbreak points.

After the game, Calipari praised Kennedy for the job he’s done in completely shifting the trajectory of his team, which started 0-5 in SEC play.

“What Billy’s done because of the injuries and the stuff that happened, to have his team where it is now is what a successful coach is,” Calipari said. “It’s easy when things are going well. I want to know when you lose three of four, how do you handle that? He’s done an amazing job.”

The Aggies will take their four-game win streak into their matchup at Mizzou on Tuesday, Feb.13. The game will be televised on ESPN with tipoff slated for 6 p.m.

Despite winning six out of their last seven SEC matchups, Kennedy emphasized that his team isn’t looking down the road, but rather maintaining their steady, one day at a time approach.

“With this team and the make of it, we’re trying to win one day at a time and not get too far ahead,” Kennedy said. “Tomorrow will be a good day to rest up and get better and focus on one day at a time. We’ve just got so much immaturity and young guys that can make mistakes. When you start looking too far ahead, that’s when you get in trouble.”

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