Kentucky Basketball: Cats Roll Over Texas A&M
Kentucky Basketball: The Cats turned in a dominating performance in their first home SEC game, hammering Texas A&M 10-58 in Rupp Arena
Kentucky, playing in front of a home crowd for the fist time in nearly a month, gave the Rupp faithful a treat by completely dismantling Texas A&M 100-58.
Defensive pressure was the story, as the Cats forced the Aggies into 25 turnovers, with 15 of those coming in the first half, when the Cats went on an early run to break open the game. Kentucky forced turnovers in five consecutive possessions at one point early in the first half, part of a 15-0 run that put the Aggies on their heals right out of the gate.
Kentucky again scored at will in transition, with no play more spectacular than a Isaiah Briscoe steal and save thrown ahead to Fox, who immediately fed the ball to Monk for an unimpeded one-handed tomahawk jam that electrified the crowd in Rupp.
Though the Cats were out-rebounded 17-12 in the first half, Kentucky correct what was the only fault of the opening stanza, ultimately winning the rebounding margin 30-28 for the game. Offensively, the Cats shot the ball well, going 33 of 63 from the field, for 52 percent, including 13 of 25, 52 percent, from 3-point range. Kentucky got to the free throw line early and often, delivering a solid performance from the charity stripe, shooting 21 of 26, for 81 percent on the night; six Wildcats were perfect from the free throw line.
Monk lead all scorers with 26 points, and he was impressively efficient as well, shooting 8 of 11 from the field, for 73 percent, including five of seven from behind the 3-point arc and five of five from the free throw line.
Fox had an all-around solid night, putting up 15 points, five rebounds and six assists, while Briscoe chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds. More impressive, Briscoe was perfect from 3-point range, knocking down three triples on the night.
Texas A&M’s big Tyler Davis was as advertised providing a big presence in the paint for the Aggies, scoring 13 points on the night. But the Cats really defended the post well, making Texas A&M work for shots, especially with the relentless on-ball pressure that disrupted the Aggie offense and kept it out of rhythm.
Kentucky twice turned the Aggies over on shot clock violations, and the pressure defense further forced bad shots toward the end of possessions as well. Dominique Hawkins was outstanding guarding the ball all night, making a play midway through the second half that emulated the way Kentucky played all night, where Hawkins pressured the ball, hustled through traffic to get the steal, took contact and made a contested layup, then went to the line and completed the and-one.
Defensively, the Cats were stellar much of the night, and the offense continues to make plays in transition. In the half court sets that did come, Monk was sensational getting open and knocking down 3s, while Bam Adebayo had a couple of brilliant moves beneath the basket, when they did target him in the post, showing he will remain a force in the paint.
The Cats return to action Saturday, Jan. 7, when Kentucky hosts Arkansas. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 PM EST; SEC Network will broadcast the game.
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