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Tough luck in Texas: Late technical dooms Kentucky in 79-77 overtime loss to Aggies

By Keith Taylor
KyForward sports writer

Kentucky’s luck at Texas A&M ran out Saturday night at Reed Arena.

In their third trip to College Station, the Wildcats failed to emulate the outcome of their first two appearances with a 79-77 overtime loss to the Aggies.

 Kentucky's Isaac Humphries battles for a rebound in UK's loss at Texas A&M Saturday night (Uk Athletics Photo)

Kentucky’s Isaac Humphries battles for a rebound in UK’s loss at Texas A&M Saturday night (UK Athletics Photo)

Kentucky (20-7, 10-4 Southeastern Conference) topped Texas A&M 70-64 in double overtime last season and escaped with a 72-68 victory in one extra period in 2013.

Kentucky led 76-75 with 1:03 remaining in overtime and appeared to be in control after freshman Isaac Humphries grabbed a defensive rebound with 9.4 seconds left, but the freshman center was called for a technical foul after slamming the ball on the court in excitement following the play.

The Aggies made both technical free throws for a 77-76 lead. Skal Labissiere, who replaced Humphries, who fouled out following the technical, made one of two free throws to tie the score at 77-77.

BOXSCORE: Texas A&M 79, Kentucky 77

However, the Aggies (20-7, 9-5 SEC) got the ball back one last time and clinched the contest on a putback on a miss by Tyler Davis as time expired to end Kentucky’s four-game winning streak.

“It’s heart-breaking, (losing) that late in the game,” Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis said. “We thought we had it, but things went wrong and they came out with the win.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the technical “kind of sullied up the game.”

“It was a heck of a basketball game, I just hated how it was decided – what decided the game,” Calipari said. “That was disappointing.”

From his perspective, Calipari said Humphries was “celebrating” and “was so happy” after grabbing the crucial rebound with the game hanging in the balance.

“There was no disrespect to anybody,” Calipari said. “There was nothing. So, if that’s what they choose to call, what are you going to do? You can be mad or whatever, but I’m not mad at that kid. Are you kidding me? Great kid.”

Ulis said Humphries was apologetic after the call and the final buzzer.

“He kept saying ‘sorry,’ but I just told him, ‘There’s nothing to be sorry about. Disregard it, go make these free throws and they still gotta come down and score,’” Ulis said. “They came down and scored. We can’t blame this on Isaac at all. Isaac came in and did a great job and I told him multiple times there’s nothing to be sorry about. He’s still in the locker room saying sorry.”

Despite the unfortunate technical, Humphries gave the Wildcats a lift off the bench, with six points, 12 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive end and two blocks.

Ulis led Kentucky’s attack with 22 points and 11 assists. Ulis added a key block and made two clutch free throws in regulation to force overtime.

Jamal Murray followed Ulis with 21 points and Isaiah Briscoe added 11 to round out three players in double figures.

Although Calipari was pleased with his team’s overall effort, he said the Wildcats weren’t physical enough in the first half.

“The toughness thing has been an issue for us from the beginning of the year and there are games that we do it and there are other games that the mindset just is not there to be physical and bang and do what you have to do,” he said. “That’s when we struggle. We struggled early in this game for that reason alone.”

Willis injured

Junior Derek Willis left the game in the second half because of an apparent ankle injury and didn’t return.

“I heard it’s a pretty bad sprain,” Calipari said.

Willis finished with three points.

Game tracker: Alabama at Kentucky, 7 p.m., Tuesday. TV/Radio: ESPN, 98.1 FM WBUL.

Keith Taylor is a columnist and senior sports writer who covers University of Kentucky athletics for KyForward.com

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