College Texas,TX -- On a Sunday afternoon where two teams faced ends to 5+ win streaks, and five Aggie seniors faced playing their last game in Reed Arena, #11 Texas A&M and #15 University of Kentucky battled it out in their final regular season SEC game with the Wildcats ultimately being victorious, winning 71-58.
"We just got physically whipped," said Aggies head coach Gary Blair of his team's performance. "It's my job as the coach, and I'll go correct it."
The Aggies started the game strong, leading for 9 minutes and 12 seconds of the first quarter. The Aggies largest lead was by nine points with 5:22 left to play in the quarter. With two minutes left to play, Kentucky had only 7 points, as many as Aggie senior Courtney Walker had for herself. The Wildcats found a way to break apart the Aggie defense and shut down their offense, ending the 1st quarter down only one point, 15-14.
UK took their first lead of the game with 6:10 left to play in the second quarter, and extending that lead to 6 at 4:47. Sophomore Alexis Jennings led the Wildcat effort with 8 points and 8 rebounds. She finished the game with 15 points and 16 rebounds. At the half, Kentucky led A&M 30-28.
The Wildcats continued their offensive onslaught in the third quarter. Junior Makayla Epps scored nine points in the quarter contributing to Kentucky's 12 point lead. At the end of the third, the score was UK 49, A&M 39.
Kentucky extended their lead -- the largest of the game -- to 15, with 8:17 left to play in the game. Epps left the game with an apparent knee injury with under five minutes left to play, but was able to return. She had 14 points for the game. This was her 23rd of 26 games played scoring in double figures.
"We all have the same goal. We're all on the same page. We know what we want to do every night when we face an opponent. We like playing for each other and winning as a team. That's what it's all about," said Epps
UK held All-American Courtney Walker to 5-19 shooting. The Wildcats also had 38 defensive rebounds as opposed to the 32 total for the Aggies. Alexis Jennings and Evelyn Akhator combined for more rebounds than the Aggie team combined.
"This is a hard-working group, not a perfect group, but a hard working group that is going to show up every day and give it their best," said Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell. "They're getting better every day. I'm real excited to see what we can become by the end of the season."
The SEC's leader in assists for the third consecutive season, Jordan Jones, had 10 of 12 assists for the Aggies.
"At this point in time in the season, we've pretty much established who we are, what we can do well and what we can't do well. A loss like this is just a heartbreaker. It puts us in perspective that we're not invincible," said senior guard Jones.
Texas A&M will enter the SEC Tournament in Jacksonville, FL on Friday, March 4th as the #2 seed playing the winner of #7 Tennessee and #10 Arkansas. Kentucky will be the #5 seed and will play the winner of #12 Alabama and #13 LSU on Thursday, March 3rd.