No. 12 Kentucky has flexed its considerable talent and muscle over the past two weeks but will have to be even better when it travels to surging, surprising Texas AM on Wednesday for a key Southeastern Conference dustup in College Station, Texas.
It's a titanic game for both teams as they look to keep pace with Auburn in the conference race and continue to build on terrific early-season success. And while most could have expected the Wildcats to be playing this well, few would have thought the same of the Aggies, who have been one of the nation's Cinderellas.
Kentucky impressed voters in the AP poll enough to move up from 18th to 12th on Monday. Meanwhile, Texas AM (15-2, 4-0 SEC) is on the outside, placing 10th among the teams that also received votes.
The Wildcats (14-3, 4-1) have won three straight games, including a 107-79 shellacking of then-No. 22 Tennessee on Saturday in Lexington, Ky. Freshman TyTy Washington Jr. scored a career-best 28 points in the win, with Sahvir Wheeler adding 21 as Kentucky shot a season-best 67.9 percent from the floor.
Kentucky tied a school mark by shooting 78.6 percent from the floor in the first half and converted 20 of 21 from the free-throw line while racking up its most points in a game since amassing 107 against Illinois-Chicago on Nov. 26, 2017.
"I literally did not look at the score until I walked off the court at halftime," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "I knew we were playing well -- I didn't need to look up. I'm more concerned with how we play.
"I'm trying not to make this game-to-game. If you do that, you torture yourself and your team. Are we getting better? Our history is that our teams play better at the end of the year. That's the history. Are individual players getting better? That's my focus. Winning will take care of itself."
On Monday, Washington was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the fourth straight time, becoming only the fourth player in league history achieve that feat. The other three players to do so -- John Wall, Nerlens Noel and Devin Booker -- all attended Kentucky as well.
Oscar Tshiebwe, the Wildcats' leading scorer this season, managed just nine points in the win over the Volunteers, but he grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Aggies head home after a 67-64 win at Missouri on Saturday, their eighth consecutive victory -- the program's longest run since forging a 10-game winning streak in the 2015-16 season. Texas AM trailed the Tigers by seven points with 7:45 to play but rallied, taking its first lead of the game three minutes later and producing a 18-8 run to capture the win.
Henry Coleman III led the Aggies with 18 points, with Tyrece Radford adding 13 points and Marcus Williams hitting for 10 in the victory. Texas AM brushed off an uneven first half, shooting 51.7 percent from the floor in the second half.
"The resolve and resilience we played with in the second half (was) completely different," Aggies coach Buzz Williams said. "We were much more disciplined in our approach. For a team as inexperienced as we are, I hope it's something we can learn from and build from."
Kentucky owns a 11-4 all-time edge against the Aggies and has won two straight in the series.
--Field Level Media