Cats lose three straight for first time under Calipari as they fall to Texas A&M


Kentucky freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander catches his breath after the game against Texas A&M on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 74-73. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

For the first time in the John Calipari era, the UK men’s basketball team suffered its third straight loss on Saturday as the Cats fell at Texas A&M, 85-74.

In the first half, the Cats struggled slightly, suffering several runs from the Aggies, but responded with runs of their own. UK took a four-point lead into halftime, as forward Kevin Knox had 11 of UK’s 30 points in the first half.

Texas A&M’s main contributor in the first period of the game was forward Robert Williams, who finished the first half with six points, eight rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Williams shot 3-6 in the first half, while the rest of the Aggies shot a difficult 26.6 percent from the floor. A&M’s big would end up with 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for his 16th double-double.

Williams wasn’t the only Aggie to have a good game against the Cats, as every starter for Texas A&M scored in double figures. TJ Starks led in scoring for the home team, putting up 17 points and also leading the Aggies with four assists.

After UK’s serviceable first half, the Cats suffered a massive 33-9 run by the Aggies that gave Texas A&M a 22-point lead roughly halfway through the second half. During this run, the Aggies made their first six three-point attempts and shot over 70 percent from the field.

The Cats would never regain the lead, and Calipari suffered three straight losses for the first time as the head coach of UK. Saturday was his 59th birthday.

In the final five minutes of the second half, the Cats put together the initial pieces of a comeback as they brought the game to within single digits as just over a minute of the game remained.

While they couldn’t complete the comeback effort, red-hot guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 19 points on 9-12 shooting, 13 of which came in the second half. He was the driving force of UK’s offense, but the Cats’ defense struggled during the massive run they suffered earlier in the half.

The Cats now fall to 17-8 with an even 6-6 conference record, and will look to right the ship Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 9 p.m. against No. 8 Auburn.