Kentucky holds off A&M in overtime, 72-68
Published: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Updated: Saturday, February 2, 2013 22:02
10,558 fans gathered at Reed Arena in mixed colors — maroon and white as well as the blue of Kentucky — to watch as the defending champions Wildkats hung on to beat the Texas A&M Aggies 72-68 in overtime.
After scoring 40 points to beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena earlier in the season, senior guard Elston Turner was held mostly in check before hitting a jumper with one second remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime, where Kentucky did enough to stave off the late A&M run.
The physicality of the game could be seen by the number of fouls called, as freshman Alex Caruso and junior Fabyon Harris each fouled out and sophomore forward Kourtney Roberson and senior forwards Ray Turner and Jarod Jahns ended the game with four fouls apiece.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari said the Aggies played a tough, physical game with them.
"They roughed us up," Calipari said. "That was a physical game. They were rough with our guards, they were rough with our big people and they were body to body."
The Wildcats started off on a 9-0 run, but the Aggies battled their way back. The game went back and forth with runs by Kentucky and the Aggies cutting into their lead multiple times.
The Aggies shooting performance proved to be the key issue in the game.
In the first half, A&M shot 24 percent and trailed by nine at the break. The Aggies went on to shoot 57 percent in the second half but fell to 33 percent in overtime, which would cost them the game.
Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel blocked 12 shots in his last outing against Ole Miss, but was only able to record two on Saturday but finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Turner said A&M's plan was to try to get to the foul line when Noel jumped up to block shots.
"He's a great shot blocker," Turner said. "We wanted to make him get off his feet and get to the foul line."
The Aggies went 18-19 from the free throw line including a perfect 17-17 in regulation. Elston led the team in free throws and points, going 6-6 from the line with 21 points on 23 shots. Harris ended the game with 14 points.
On the defensive side of the ball Caruso’s contributions went beyond the stat sheet.
Head coach Billy Kennedy said that Caruso being in foul trouble was a big downer.
"It hurts, [Caruso] getting in foul trouble," Kennedy said. "He brings energy and scores off of his defense. He gets easy scores from time to time."
The Aggies pulled within two with one minute remaining and again with 19 seconds left. A&M tied the game with 1.4 seconds left, having never lead in the game.
Each of A&M’s past two games has gone into overtime, including a win at Mississippi State.
Kennedy said he is proud of the way his team played.
"I'm proud of the fight our guys had," Kennedy said. "They fought hard against a Kentucky team that played well."