Cats survive comeback scare against Aggies


Kentucky freshman guard Ashton Hagans dribbles the ball during the game against Texas A&M on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Following a humbling loss against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, the UK basketball team redeemed itself at home, downing the Texas A&M Aggies 85-74.

The Cats got off to a slow start, allowing 10 straight points by the Aggies to open the game. UK faced a 12-2 deficit at the first media timeout, with wing player Keldon Johnson as their sole contributor in points.

UK then went on a 22-6 run to take a 24-16 lead, eventually stretching the scoring run to 33-11. They dominated the rest of the first half, carrying 20 bench points on to a 46-34 halftime lead. Most of the separation that lasted to halftime was gained by a pair of steals from point guard Ashton Hagans.

Hagans stole the ball on consecutive possessions. The first, he scored a layup that he was fouled on. On the second one, a flagrant foul was committed against him before a brief, mild altercation broke out between UK forward PJ Washington and some of the Aggie frontcourt.

The result was four free throws for Hagans, followed by a layup that gave the Cats six points without Texas A&M touching the ball on offense.

The Aggie offense heated up in the second half, drilling circus shots and forcing UK turnovers to bring UK’s lead down to as low as two points with 7:55 remaining in the game. Aggie guard TJ Starks led their charge, finishing with 18 points on 7-15 shooting.

The Cats took control late, ending the game on a 16-5 run that iced the contest for good.

Starks’ production was directly offset by the offensive output from shooting guard Tyler Herro, who finished with a near-career high of 21 points on 7-14 shooting.

Hagans had his very large handprint on the game as well, netting a career high 18 points, including 10 from the free throw line. He dished out four assists with only one turnover and terrorized the visitors with another five-steal game.

UK moves to 1-1 in conference play and 11-3 on the season. They’ll host the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday night for their third SEC game of the year.