College Station, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - For the first time since 2010, a top-ranked team will invade Reed Arena, as the Texas A&M Aggies play host to the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats in an SEC showdown on Saturday afternoon.
John Calipari's Wildcats are 14-0 on the year, the team's best start since the 2009-10 campaign (19-0). Most have come in lopsided affairs, but not all have been easy. The team's undefeated season almost came to an end in the SEC opener, as Kentucky needed overtime to outlast a tough Ole Miss squad, 89-86.
Billy Kennedy's Aggies are off to a 9-4 start, but three of those losses have come in the last six games. Texas A&M also began its league slate on Tuesday, but the outcome was less than desirable, a 65-44 whipping by Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
UK holds just a 4-2 edge in the all-time series with Texas A&M and won the last meeting, a 68-51 decision in late January of last year.
The Rebels had their chances to knock off the Wildcats last time out, but Kentucky won the battle, overcoming 13 ties and eight lead changes to remain perfect on the year. Kentucky showed some long-range acumen by hitting 11- of-20 from behind the arc in the win. Aaron Harrison led five Wildcats in double figures with 26 points. Devin Booker checked in with 13 points, followed by Andrew Harrison (12 pts), Karl-Anthony Towns (11 pts) and Trey Lyles (10 pts). Willie Cauley-Stein netted seven points in the win, but did record 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Defense is the name of the game in Lexington this season. Kentucky is holding foes to a meager 50.6 ppg, as opponents are shooting a dreadful .311 from the floor, including just .284 from 3-point range. The team is also boasting of a +9.8 rebounding margin and leads the nation in blocked shots, both overall (114) and per game (8.1). Aaron Harrison and Booker are the only two players currently averaging double-digit scoring at 11.4 and 10.2 ppg, respectively. However, Cauley-Stein (9.9 ppg), Towns (8.4 ppg) and Dakari Johnson (8.3 ppg) aren't far off the mark.
The Aggies are by no means an offensive juggernaut at a modest 68.1 ppg, but the team is shooting an efficient .465 from the floor. The team also holds a narrow positive margin in rebounding (+3.2 rpg). Jalen Jones missed the last game with an ankle injury, but remains the team's top offensive threat at 13.3 ppg. He also tops A&M in rebounding (6.0 rpg) Jones is listed as questionable for this contest. Danuel House has missed a couple of games as well and ranks second on the team with 11.4 ppg. Alex Caruso and Kourtney Roberson provide some scoring depth with 8.2 and 8.1 ppg, respectively.
The Aggies were at a distinct disadvantage on the road at Alabama without their top scorer on the floor. That was certainly evident, as the team netted a meager 44 points and shot a poor .308 from the floor overall against the Crimson Tide. It was a tight game in the first half, as A&M trailed by just three points at the break (27-24). However, the Aggies went just 6-of-26 from the field over the final 20 minutes, ending any hope at a competitive game in the end. Peyton Allen was the only player to notch double figures in the loss, netting 13 points off the bench. House was a dreadful 1-of-9 from the floor and finished with just five points.