COLLEGE STATION, Texas — This one came down to the wire but ultimately, No. 12 Kentucky earned a gutsy, 64-58 win over Texas A&M on the road in College Station.
Sahvir Wheeler led the way for the Wildcats with 12 points, and the Cats move to 15-3 on the season, including a 5-1 record in league play. Davion Mintz was the only other Wildcat to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points, five of which came from the free throw line. As a team, Kentucky shot 36 percent from the field, 22 percent from the three-point line and 69 percent from the charity stripe. Wheeler added four assists but generally struggled with ball security against Texas A&M's defense, committing eight of UK's 17 turnovers.
Oscar Tshiebwe finished with eight points and 14 rebounds. TyTy Washington added eight points of his own, including a contested shot late in the game to help maintain Kentucky's slight lead.
Kentucky had the 61-58 lead with 27 seconds remaining in the game, and the Cats were able to ever-so-slightly grow that margin down the stretch. Mintz was sent to the free throw line with 0:10 left on the clock, where he went 1-2 in front of 14,036 fans, the largest crowd in Reed Arena history. Oscar Tshiebwe hit two more to close out the game.
The first half was far from ideal for the Wildcats. Texas A&M led for 15:40 of action and the teams were tied for the remaining 4:20; Kentucky never had the lead. Despite the Wildcats shooting 33 percent from the floor and nine percent from deep throughout the first 20 minutes, the Cats went to the locker room trailing by just five points.
WHEELER cuts between 2 Aggies for the bucket right before the half pic.twitter.com/huRdy698L3— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) January 20, 2022
The Aggies had the advantage in fast-break points, points in the paint and perhaps most surprisingly, rebounds in the first half.
Kentucky came out firing in the second half with a 5-0 run, sparked - in large part - by a three-pointer by Wheeler. At that point in the game, the point guard (who's connected on 5-of-25 deep shots for an average of 20 percent on the season), was responsible for both of the Cats' successful three-pointers. Wheeler's shot from the top of the arc tied the game at 35, less than two minutes into the second half.
The Cats cooled following that streak, turning the ball over on three of the next four possessions. During that time, the Aggies regained a five-point lead. From there, it was anybody's ball game. Mintz, along with Jacob Toppin, continued to provide Kentucky with valuable minutes off of the bench.
Kentucky didn't see its first lead of the game until the 8:50 mark, when Grady missed his ninth three-pointer of the night but followed his own shot for a crafty layup around the basket to put the Cats up 49-48. He finished with five points on 2-10 shooting (1-9 from deep). He appeared to suffer a leg injury late in the second half - at one point checking out of the game - but he did return to the court.
A look at the final stats from tonight's hard-fought Kentucky win 👀 pic.twitter.com/1ayp5a1rKF— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) January 20, 2022
Kentucky returns to action this Saturday on the road against No. 2 Auburn.
For more on the Wildcats, watch BBN Tonight weeknights at 7:30 on your official station for UK Athletics, LEX 18 News.