College Station, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - This time it took two overtimes for Kentucky to remain undefeated.
The top-ranked Wildcats pulled out an overtime win Tuesday in their SEC opener against Ole Miss and on Saturday needed a second extra period in their first road conference game, escaping with a 70-64 triumph over Texas A&M.
Tyler Ulis drained a 3-pointer with 1:25 remaining for his only points of the game to give Kentucky a 66-63 lead. Kourtney Roberson answered with a free throw to draw A&M within two and Trey Lyles traveled at the other end to give the Aggies a chance to go ahead or tie with 30 seconds left.
Danuel House went for the lead, but his 3-point try missed and Dakari Johnson pulled down the rebound for Kentucky. Johnson made two from the line with 14.7 seconds left for a four-point margin and Peyton Allen's attempt from beyond the arc also came up empty for the Aggies. Two more Devin Booker free throws with 8.2 seconds to play sealed it for the Wildcats.
"We kind of got lucky and walked out with a win," Kentucky head coach John Calipari admitted. "We're just not a very good team right now."
Booker finished with 18 points for Kentucky (15-0, 2-0 SEC), which many thought might take advantage of a so-called weakened SEC to waltz into March with an unblemished record. The Wildcats blew through their non-conference schedule with 12 wins by double-digits before an eight-point victory at arch- rival Louisville to close out December. Then came a nine-day layoff and the tougher-than-expected 89-86 win over Ole Miss.
Aaron Harrison scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Wildcats before fouling out in the second extra period on Saturday. Karl-Anthony Towns fouled out in the first extra session, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds. Johnson contributed eight points and nine boards in the victory.
House scored a career-high 25 points and added nine rebounds for Texas A&M (9-5, 0-2), which was coming off a 65-44 drubbing on Tuesday at Alabama in its SEC opener. Roberson added 11 points and eight boards in defeat.
"I'm disappointed for our guys because we had every opportunity to win," Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said. "Kentucky made plays when they had to."
The Aggies, who played without leading scorer Jalen Jones for a second straight game because of a sprained ankle, were clearly no pushover for the Wildcats. They scored the first nine points of the game and led by as many as 11 in the first half before finally coughing up the big cushion in the second half. Kentucky, though, couldn't hold a seven-point lead late, managing just one field goal over the final nine minutes of regulation.
Texas A&M had the ball down 53-51 with just over 90 seconds left and Antwan Space's try from beyond the arc hit the rim twice before coming down in the hands of Roberson for another chance. House, though, also missed from 3-point range and the rebound went out of bounds to Texas A&M, but Alex Caruso's tough layup attempt missed.
Kentucky went the other way with a 2-on-1 break, but Andrew Harrison's layup rolled off the rim with 22 seconds to play and the Aggies broke the other way. House drew a block on his way to the basket and made both free throws to knot the contest at 53-53 with 18 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats struggled to find a shot and called timeout with 1.3 seconds to play. Texas A&M then countered with a timeout to adjust its defense and Aaron Harrison's attempt from well beyond the arc hit the back of the rim as time expired.
Booker's layup in the first minute of the extra period gave Kentucky the lead and was the only field goal of the first extra period. Texas A&M managed three free throws, the last two by House with 1:58 remaining, for a 56-55 edge.
Tavario Miller made the second of two from the line with 27.3 seconds left for a two-point advantage, but Lyles connected on two from the stripe with 6.1 seconds remaining to tie it and Alex Robinson's 30-footer wasn't close to force an additional period.
Robinson scored 10 for Texas A&M, which shot 33.3 percent from the field and held Kentucky to just 28.1 percent shooting ... The Aggies made only 2-of-15 3-point tries and connected on just 16-of-30 from the line ... The Wildcats made 9-of-28 from beyond the arc and drained 28-of-35 from the stripe ... The Harrison twins combined to make just 6-of-30 shots for Kentucky ... Texas A&M fell to 2-5 all-time against Kentucky. Both meetings in College Station ended in Kentucky overtime victories, including a 72-68 triumph in 2013 ... The Aggies fell to 0-7 all-time against the top-ranked team in the nation ... A&M will remain home to face Mississippi State on Tuesday ... Kentucky will return to Rupp Arena on Tuesday to welcome Missouri.