Kentucky vs Texas A&M Game Preview: Keys to Victory

Kentucky will look to stay perfect in SEC play as they face their second straight Saturday in a hostile environment.

Missouri v Kentucky
Missouri v Kentucky / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Kentucky heads to College Station, Texas, in a matchup with preseason conference darling Texas A&M. The Aggies, led by preseason player of the year, Wade Taylor IV, have stumbled out of the gate losing their first two conference games by double-digits. Saturday’s clash will be a battle of strengths as the Wildcats excel from the perimeter while the Aggies dominate in the paint. 

Texas A&M Snapshot

The Aggies enter the game winners just four of their last 10 games. Buzz Williams and his coaching staff are searching for answers, specifically on the offensive end. In their 9 wins, they are averaging 79 points per game. In their 6 losses, they are averaging 64 points per game. 

Rebounding, rebounding, and more rebounding

Coach Calipar’s team should have the same mindset for the Aggies’ rebounding as they did in last week’s victory against the Florida Gators. Regardless of the offensive shot, the A&M players are crashing the glass with purpose and oftentimes, with success. One of Coach Calipari’s favorite words before games, during games, and after games is “Fight!” If his players can fight for rebounds, loose balls, and work together as a unified group, they should handle their own in the rebounding war. 

Justin Edwards & Reed Sheppard 

As Kentucky fans continue to wait for Justin Edwards to find his footing, there is one teammate who elevates his game: Reed Sheppard. By now, it is no surprise that Sheppard is one of the best playmakers on the team. Offensively or defensively, Sheppard is consistently around the ball and making plays. Despite only playing on average 25% of the game together, the analytics show that Edwards is +114 when Sheppard is in the game with him. That is the highest plus/minus duo paired with Edwards. Keep your eye on the lineup and see if that trend will continue. 

Mitchell’s mojo

Tre Mitchell’s continued surge for this team seems somewhat overlooked but his recent performances have been enormous. Mitchell is riding a 4 game streak of posting double-digit points and rebounds while leading the team in minutes played. His veteran leadership has been fully displayed, and the young Wildcats should lean on him in College Station.

Green light for guards

Through 14 games, the Kentucky guards are responsible for more than 65% of the scoring and causing havoc on the offensive side of the ball nearly every possession. Even John Wall noticed how well the guards had been playing. Coach Calipari revealed that Wall reached out personally to encourage Calipari to let the guards play loose. “Hey, let them play loose,” Wall said. “Just make sure they know this team's better, so they may have to have the next play, but let them play,” Here is another game to let the guards rip and roar. 

Prediction

Sportsbooks have the lines opening anywhere as UK+1.5, UK+1, or even a straight-up pick ‘em. Analytics show a similar line or even favoring UK a smidge. Our pick favors UK coming out on top and escaping Reed Arena with a final score of 82-75.