Thursday, May 30, 2024

Kentucky vs. Texas A&M score, takeaways: Aggies top No. 6 Wildcats, the fifth top-six team to lose this week

Texas A&M delivered a wild 97-92 overtime victory vs. No. 6 Kentucky on Saturday in the latest shocking result in a week that has featured upsets of top teams by unranked conference opponents.  

The Wildcats became the fifth team in the top six of the AP Top 25  and sixth top-10 team to fall to an unranked opponent in the last five days, joining No. 1 Purdue, No. 2 Houston, No. 3 Kansas, No. 5 Tennessee and No. 9 Oklahoma.

Texas A&M (10-6, 1-2 SEC) was winless in SEC play after consecutive losses to LSU and Auburn to open up the conference slate. The Aggies were previously 0-3 against Top 25 opponents this season with losses to FAU, Houston and Auburn.

SEC Preseason Player of the Year Wade Taylor lV broke his shooting slump and scored a game-high 31 points while knocking down six 3-pointers for the Aggies. Taylor’s backcourt mate, Tyrece Radford, scored 28 points and hit two clutch free throws with 7.8 seconds remaining in regulation before Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard hit two free throws of his own with 0.6 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

Kentucky (12-3, 2-1) suffered its first loss since being upset at home in Rupp Arena to UNC Wilmington on Dec. 2. The Wildcats had won 10 of their last 11 games and the defeat snapped a six-game road winning streak.

  • Kentucky big man Aaron Bradshaw logged a season-low six minutes because of foul trouble.
  • A putback by Texas A&M forward Henry Coleman lll was waved off with 28.6 seconds left after it was ruled basket interference by the Aggies.
  • Kentucky guard D.J. Wagner recorded his fourth consecutive double-digit performance and finished with 18 points. Rob Dillingham added 15 points off the bench.

Texas A&M needed this one

The 2023-24 season has been a roller coaster for Texas A&M. The Aggies started as the No. 15 ranked team in the AP Top 25 poll and climbed to as high as No. 13 before losses to FAU, Virginia, Memphis and Houston caused them to fall out of the poll entirely. Then, if things couldn’t get any worse for one of the preseason favorites in the SEC, they started conference play 0-2 with two double-digit losses. 

It’s safe to say the Aggies needed this. Taylor did, too. 

The Texas A&M star guard has been struggling with his 3-point shooting. In his last three games prior to knocking down a half dozen triples, Taylor was 4-of-27 from behind the arc. Saturday marked Taylor’s sixth 20+ point performance of the season and there’s still plenty of time for Taylor to gain ground in the SEC Player of the Year race if his team can turn it around. 

This was a great place to start.

The SEC race is wide open

Coming into the season, the SEC was wide open and after the first full week of conference play, that assessment can still prove to be true. In CBS Sports’ SEC expert picks, there were four different teams tabbed to win the conference by our six writers: Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Tennessee. 

Arkansas has struggled and it’s off to a 0-3 start in SEC play. Kentucky appears to still be a contender and No. 5 Tennessee is certainly still part of that conversation despite a loss to Mississippi State and a near loss to Georgia on Saturday. Texas A&M certainly isn’t out of it and if Taylor continues to play at a high level, the Aggies will be near the top of the conference standings come March.

For now, the SEC is still up for grabs

Antonio Reeves is the glue for UK

All five of Kentucky’s highly-touted newcomers have shown up in spurts this season. Aaron Bradshaw played in his eighth game of the season after a preseason injury forced him to miss some time. Sheppard and Dillingham have both shined off the bench with Wagner and Justin Edwards showing why they can be a NBA Draft lottery pick this summer. 

None of those players, arguably, are the most important player on the Kentucky roster. That distinction goes to  Reeves, who led the Wildcats in scoring for the sixth time this season with 22 points and is averaging a team-high 18.6 points per game. 

Once upon a time, there was some serious doubt that Reeves would come back to Kentucky. First, Reeves entered the 2023 NBA Draft and elected to take classes at Illinois State — his previous school — while pondering his future. Ultimately, Reeves elected to not enter the transfer portal and returned to school as the Wildcats’ most experienced player. Days later, Kentucky landed former West Virginia forward Tre Mitchell to give the Wildcats a pair of veterans to add to a youthful roster. 

One thing is for certain: Kentucky would not be the same team if Reeves hit the portal or went through the draft process further. If the Wildcats want to get back to the Final Four, they will have to lean on Reeves to get them there.

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