CRAWFORD | For Kentucky, this loss at Texas A&M was a write-off - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | For Kentucky, this loss at Texas A&M was a write-off

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I’m going to steal a lead from the writers of the classic sitcom “Seinfeld,” but so be it. This loss, for the University of Kentucky, was a write-off.

I’m writing it off. I don’t want to hear anyone’s comments. I don’t care what Coach John Calipari had to say, doesn’t matter.

I know Kentucky lost at Texas A&M 79-77. But come on.

This was a game Texas A&M had to win. College GameDay was there — I still can’t figure out why. It was a white-out for the Aggies. They brought Super Bowl MVP Von Miller in (note: this was not his Super Bowl.)

Meanwhile Kentucky was coming off a short turnaround. It beat Tennessee at home Thursday night, then had one day off before coming to College Station.

The Wildcats were hurting. Alex Poythress is still out. Derek Willis went out with a sprained ankle in the second half. They got into foul trouble. Marcus Lee, fouled out. Have you heard this one before?

Oh, you’re just making excuses for Kentucky. I can hear it now.

My answer? Yes. I am. I’m making excuses — because they actually exist.

Ken Pomeroy says beating the No. 90 team on the road is equivalent to beating the No. 20 team at home. Texas A&M is ranked No. 22 in his ratings. What does beating them on the road amount to? Beating Chuck Norris?

I know, they’re not the Golden State Warriors or something. But in that situation, at that place, given this timing, winning was going to be difficult.

The Wildcats had a chance to win for two primary reasons. First — Tyler Ulis slowed the game to a crawl once the foul trouble and injuries started mounting.

He didn’t have to be told to do it. He sensed it. He knew it. He ran down the shot clock. He created opportunities at the end of it. Even though Kentucky didn’t score, he pretty well killed two minutes to get them to the under-4 timeout with a two-point deficit.

From then on, it’s a coin toss.

The other reason Kentucky hung tough was Isaac Humphries' rebounding.

If you’re looking for any thing decent out of this game, it’s that the Australian 7-footer has been used out of necessity, and has responded. Is he great? No. Can he come in and get a dozen rebounds? Crikey, yes.

When they put him on the line, he made his free throws. And he was about to get two more to put the game away when he pulled down a rebound with 9 seconds left and a one-point lead in overtime when he got a little exuberant and spiked the ball.

And got a technical.

I’m not going to bash the refs for that. I mean, you’re not even allowed to spike the ball in football. You get overly demonstrative, no matter the motive, you’re risking a technical. Sometimes foreign players aren’t as in tune with the subtleties of the American college game. Was it over the top for officials to call that? Yes. Should they have let it go? Probably. But they were within the rules to call it. It was far from the worst call of the game.

It’s just a shame it happened, because Humphries wasn’t doing it with the intent to be malicious, or to taunt anyone. Texas A&M makes its free throws. Skal Labissiere makes one of two for Kentucky, then Tyler Davis gets a tip-in at the buzzer to win it for the Aggies.

Tough loss. But not a crippling loss.

Here’s what’s more important than the outcome of that game:

— Derek Willis’ ankle. If he’s limited for the next week or so, it’s bad news for the Wildcats. Who would’ve thought we’d have been saying that this season?

— Alex Poythress’ status. Calipari and Kentucky coaches aren’t saying. He’s got to get back. Even at his foul-prone worst, he gives them minutes. And at his best, he makes them a different team.

Next Saturday they’re at Vanderbilt. The following Tuesday at Florida. They finish at home against LSU. They need to start getting healthy.

This is a team that is rounding into form in a lot of ways. Tyler Ulis is outstanding. Jamal Murray is good. The Wildcats didn’t win Saturday at Texas A&M. But it wasn’t for lack of toughness.

This doesn’t have to be a momentum-killing loss. I expect them to come home and beat Alabama no matter who is back.

But for those two road games after that, they need to be healthier.

And they have to rebound better. On the offensive glass, Texas A&M dominated Kentucky 20-6. Second-chance points were 22-11 and it’s just a testament to Kentucky’s defense that the number wasn’t worse. Texas A&M took 72 shots. Kentucky took 54.

Kentucky, in general, has been one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. But they also allow far too many offensive rebounds.

That they had a chance to win this game despite all that is an encouraging thing for Kentucky. It would do well just to take that away, and write off the rest.

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