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No. 18 Kentucky rallies to pull away from Texas A&M 85-74

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) After an awful start, Kentucky coach John Calipari was happy to see his team finish off Texas A&M.

Tyler Herro had 21 points, Ashton Hagans scored a career-high 18 and No. 18 Kentucky overcame a 10-0 deficit before holding off Texas A&M for an 85-74 victory on Tuesday night.

''The whole season is about building,'' the coach said. ''We won a game. We won a league game. We won our first league game. Good start.''

The Wildcats (11-3, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) definitely had room for improvement after Saturday's 77-75 loss at Alabama, disappointment that translated into an early hangover against the Aggies.

Kentucky started badly on both ends with four missed shots, turnovers and defensive breakdowns the Aggies seized upon for a pair of 10-point leads. Kentucky quickly regrouped with a 19-6 run over 5:21. Hagans had a pair of steals during the spurt in which everything clicked.

The Wildcats led 46-34 at the break before having to withstand a second-half comeback by the Aggies (6-7, 0-2), who got within 66-64 with 7:55 left. Immanuel Quickley answered with a 3-pointer and PJ Washington eventually followed with a three-point play for an 11-point cushion that held up.

''We started pretty slow and eventually we got it going a little bit,'' said Herro, who was 7 of 14 from the field with three from long range for his second 20-point effort in three games.

''Second half, we played a little bit better. Overall, we have to start games quicker and better.''

Hagans made 10 of 11 free throws along with shooting 4 of 6 as the Wildcats made 15 of 27 (56 percent) after halftime to finish 52 percent overall.

''The Alabama game was tough,'' Quickley said, ''but we bounced back. It felt extremely good.''

The Aggies meanwhile were left with another game they played close but came up just short.

Jay Jay Chandler and TJ Starks each had 18 points for Texas A&M, which shot above 50 percent for much of the game. The Aggies cooled off late and finished 48 percent.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kentucky should remain ranked as long as it follows up against Vanderbilt on Saturday.

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING

A hard foul against Hagans led to a first-half scrum resulting in technical fouls for both teams. Christian Mekowulu and John Walker were whistled for the Aggies, while Washington was called for Kentucky.

Hagans made four free throws to make it 33-21.

BIG PICTURE

Texas A&M: The Aggies stayed close with good shooting and even edged Kentucky 29-28 on the glass. They just didn't have enough answers down the stretch to overtake the Wildcats and were hurt by 19 turnovers leading to 22 points.

''We started giving the ball away and their defense revved up,'' coach Billy Kennedy said. ''They tried to speed the game up and I feel like that was in their advantage on the defensive end.''

Kentucky: Shaky as the Wildcats initially looked, they settled down and soon led after 10 minutes. Though outshot much of the night by the Aggies, handling the paint 42-32 and outscoring their bench 23-9 helped them gain the edge and a strong bounce-back from Saturday's loss against the Crimson Tide. Redshirt freshman guard Jemarl Baker had four critical points along with three assists.

''Jemarl Baker went in and was just playing basketball,'' Calipari said. ''He wasn't playing for himself, trying to get his (points). If a guy was open, he threw it to him. It changed the whole complexion of the game.''

UP NEXT

Texas A&M visits Alabama on Saturday, seeking its third win in the past five meetings.

Kentucky hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday in search of its fifth consecutive win against the Commodores.

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Key Players
S. Flagg
1 G
K. Johnson
3 G
31.3 Min. Per Game 31.3
16.2 Pts. Per Game 16.2
1.7 Ast. Per Game 1.7
5.6 Reb. Per Game 5.6
49.6 Field Goal % 50.7
29.5 Three Point % 39.2
57.1 Free Throw % 73.7
+ 3 Savion Flagg made 3-pt. jump shot 1.0
  Shot clock violation turnover on Kentucky 1.0
  Defensive rebound by Jemarl Baker 30.0
  Wendell Mitchell missed layup 32.0
+ 2 Ashton Hagans made layup 45.0
  Bad pass turnover on Wendell Mitchell, stolen by Ashton Hagans 49.0
+ 1 Ashton Hagans made 2nd of 2 free throws 59.0
+ 1 Ashton Hagans made 1st of 2 free throws 59.0
  Shooting foul on T.J. Starks 59.0
  Defensive rebound by Tyler Herro 1:23
  T.J. Starks missed 3-pt. jump shot 1:25
Team Stats
Points 74 85
Field Goals 27-56 (48.2%) 29-56 (51.8%)
3-Pointers 8-17 (47.1%) 6-18 (33.3%)
Free Throws 12-13 (92.3%) 21-23 (91.3%)
Total Rebounds 29 28
Offensive 5 7
Defensive 20 19
Team 4 2
Assists 8 16
Steals 8 11
Blocks 3 5
Turnovers 19 12
Fouls 20 14
Technicals 2 1
18 PTS, 1 REB
21 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST
12T
away team logo Texas A&M 6-7 344074
home team logo 18 Kentucky 11-3 463985
Team Stats
away team logo Texas A&M 6-7 71.6 PPG 41 RPG 12.6 APG
home team logo 18 Kentucky 11-3 78.4 PPG 41.6 RPG 14.2 APG
Key Players
2
T. Starks G 12.9 PPG 2.4 RPG 3.7 APG 36.1 FG%
14
T. Herro G 13.3 PPG 4.0 RPG 2.3 APG 45.5 FG%
Top Scorers
T. Starks G 18 PTS 0 REB 0 AST
T. Herro G 21 PTS 5 REB 1 AST
48.2 FG% 51.8
47.1 3PT FG% 33.3
92.3 FT% 91.3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Chandler 18 1 0 7/9 0/0 4/4 4 28 1 0 2 0 1
T. Starks 18 0 0 7/15 2/5 2/3 4 34 2 0 5 0 0
S. Flagg 13 9 3 5/11 3/4 0/0 0 39 0 1 4 2 7
W. Mitchell 10 6 5 3/10 2/4 2/2 3 29 1 0 4 1 5
C. Mekowulu 6 4 0 1/3 0/0 4/4 2 25 1 2 0 0 4
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Chandler 18 1 0 7/9 0/0 4/4 4 28 1 0 2 0 1
T. Starks 18 0 0 7/15 2/5 2/3 4 34 2 0 5 0 0
S. Flagg 13 9 3 5/11 3/4 0/0 0 39 0 1 4 2 7
W. Mitchell 10 6 5 3/10 2/4 2/2 3 29 1 0 4 1 5
C. Mekowulu 6 4 0 1/3 0/0 4/4 2 25 1 2 0 0 4
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Walker III 4 2 0 2/2 0/0 0/0 2 14 1 0 2 0 2
B. Mahan 3 1 0 1/4 1/4 0/0 2 16 0 0 1 0 1
J. Nebo 2 2 0 1/2 0/0 0/0 2 15 2 0 1 2 0
C. Collins - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Gilder - - - - - - - - - - - - -
F. Byers - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. French - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Alo - - - - - - - - - - - - -
E. Vaughn - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. McGhee - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Walker - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 74 25 8 27/56 8/17 12/13 20 200 8 3 19 5 20
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
T. Herro 21 5 1 7/14 3/7 4/4 3 36 0 0 4 2 3
A. Hagans 18 1 4 4/6 0/1 10/11 1 30 5 0 1 0 1
P. Washington 9 5 2 4/8 0/2 1/1 2 28 1 0 1 1 4
K. Johnson 8 6 3 2/9 0/4 4/4 1 27 0 0 4 2 4
R. Travis 6 4 1 3/6 0/0 0/0 2 30 1 1 0 2 2
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
T. Herro 21 5 1 7/14 3/7 4/4 3 36 0 0 4 2 3
A. Hagans 18 1 4 4/6 0/1 10/11 1 30 5 0 1 0 1
P. Washington 9 5 2 4/8 0/2 1/1 2 28 1 0 1 1 4
K. Johnson 8 6 3 2/9 0/4 4/4 1 27 0 0 4 2 4
R. Travis 6 4 1 3/6 0/0 0/0 2 30 1 1 0 2 2
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
I. Quickley 10 1 2 4/4 2/2 0/1 0 13 3 0 0 0 1
N. Richards 5 1 0 2/2 0/0 1/1 2 11 0 2 0 0 1
J. Baker 4 1 3 1/3 1/2 1/1 2 13 0 0 1 0 1
E. Montgomery 4 2 0 2/4 0/0 0/0 0 12 1 2 1 0 2
J. David - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Calipari - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Q. Green - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Payne - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 85 26 16 29/56 6/18 21/23 14 200 11 5 12 7 19