The Aggies are in desperation mode after an 0-3 start, and while Williams and Gilder are set to be back on the court, starting point guard Duane Wilson is still sidelined for another week.
"That's how A&M plays anyway", United Kingdom coach John Calipari said during Monday's SEC coaches teleconference. The Cats had a pair of turnovers and missed four out of six free throws that gave Texas A&M an opportunity to escape with a win.
The No. 21 Wildcats announced Green's injury right before tipoff Tuesday night.
"Toughness doesn't mean roughness", he said. "It wasn't dirty. It was just a straight-up, 'We're going to out-tough you for the next 20 minutes.' And they did". "But that's still going to be a work in progress". They come into this game ranked No. 21 in the nation at 12-3 overall. Knox knocked down 1-of-2 free throws late to put United Kingdom up 74-71.
They can't do it for 40 minutes yet, especially defensively.
Texas A&M is 11-4 and trying to avoid falling into an 0-4 hole in the league. But there were other times Kentucky switched off defensively for several possessions and A&M did whatever it wanted on the offensive end. "I think that we kind of let up in the second half and might have got complacent from what we did in the first half".
The signs are there of a team beginning to come together, though.
Washington and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander each scored 16 points for the Wildcats. He carried the offense for much of the first half.
Kentucky extended its streak of 1,029 consecutive games with a 3-pointer when Washington hit a long ball at the 17-minute mark.
But the key factor on this team moving forward is going to be PJ Washington - and everyone seems to know it. It was the third start of Gilgeous-Alexander's young career.
"Our guys understand we need all of our pieces to be the best team we can possibly be", Kennedy said Monday.
The inexperienced Wildcats have been screaming out for a leader all season, and it was never more evident than in the Tennessee loss. Winning both games will do a lot to erase what happened in the first three games. The Volunteers outscored Kentucky by 11 in the final 12-plus minutes with Washington out of the game.
He left Brad in for almost three minutes, rested him briefly and sent him back into the game less than a minute later after Nick Richards became the fourth Wildcat to earn two fouls in the first half. The Wildcats beat the Aggies, 100-58, when these two teams met in Kentucky last season. Washington still finished with 13 points, making 6-of-8 shots, and getting three steals and three rebounds in 23 minutes. The team said that he will be evaluated daily.
Calipari clearly has higher aspirations for this team.
He didn't exactly seem that way. Kentucky had two turnovers and missed four free throws in the final 43 seconds.
Calipari is clearly trying to get a point across.
Tuesday's short-handed response was a step in that direction.