Kentucky basketball avoids a letdown, survive OT in beating Texas A&M in College Station Saturday.

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Billy Gillispie decided to at the last minute to not show up, and for a while in the 2nd half so did UK (15-6, 6-2). After taking a 9 point lead into halftime, the Cats never trailed but also never expanded that nine point lead. Texas A&M didn’t quit, and after a Fabyon Harris jumper pulled A&M (13-8, 3-5)to within 2 with: 19 left, Kyle Wiltjer took the inbounds pass and was tied up, with the possession arrow giving the ball back to A&M. Elston Turner, who had a quiet 1st half but torched the Cats for 40 points in an upset win at Rupp earlier this year, took the ball out top, split a tentative double team and his 15 footer touched nearly every part of the rim before falling in to force OT. UK started the overtime with a 7-1 run, but A&M sandwiched an Elston Turner 3-pointer and a Kourtney Roberson layup around a wasted offensive possession by UK to again cut the lead to 1 with 19 seconds left in the overtime. Julius Mays, whose poise and shooting were key for the Cats all game, calmly sank two free throws to stretch the lead to 3, and Turner’s 3 to tie rimmed out to give UK the victory.

Nerlens Noel followed up his stellar game against Ole Miss where he scored only 2 points but blocked 12 shots, with 19 points and 14 boards to go with “only” two blocks. Julius Mays also scored 19 points, hitting 4 of 6 3-point attempts and scoring five of UK’s ten points in the overtime period. Elston Turner led all scorers with 21, but went just 1-7 on 3-pointers and 7-23 overall, marking the second straight game that UK has forced a perimeter scorer into a bad shooting percentage.

UK returns home next week for games against South Carolina and Auburn, who have a collective record of 20-22, before heading to Gainseville for a showdown with #4 Florida in their biggest game of the year to this point.

 

Photo: Flickr/MegRobertsonNY

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