LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 21: The Kentucky Wildcats cheerleaders perform at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Alex Poythress scored a season-high 16 points as No. 14 Kentucky routed past Texas A&M 68-5.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Alex Poythress scored a season-high 16 points as No. 14 Kentucky routed Texas A&M 68-51 on Tuesday night.
Poythress and 7-foot freshman Dakari Johnson eagerly picked up the slack inside for Kentucky (14-4, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) with struggling 7-foot pivot man Willie Cauley-Stein limited by foul trouble. Poythress worked inside for baskets and got to the free throw line, hitting five straight during his 7-0 run that put the Wildcats up 44-33 with 14 1/2 minutes remaining.
The sophomore forward was 4 of 7 from the field and had five rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes.
Johnson added seven rebounds, six points and a career-high three blocks as the Wildcats outrebounded the Aggies 42-24 and were nearly even with them in the paint (30-32) The rebounding was a huge improvement for Kentucky after being dominated on the glass in Saturday's win over Tennessee.
James Young added 15 points and seven rebounds while Julius Randle had 13 points with 11 rebounds for Kentucky which shot 44 percent (22 of 50) from the field and was 18 of 27 at the free throw line. The Wildcats' bench outscored the Aggies 25-13 and 15-4 in second-chance points.
Alex Caruso and Davonte Fitzgerald had 12 points each for Texas A&M (12-6, 3-2), which shot 37 percent in losing its second straight.
Tuesday night marked the first meeting between the schools since Kentucky earned a 72-68 overtime road win last February in College Station. It was also this season's only matchup between the Wildcats and Aggies, who entered the late-evening start seeking momentum for different reasons.
Texas A&M was looking to get back on track after having its 3-0 SEC start halted in an 81-72 overtime loss at Mississippi State. That quest never got started as the Aggies were outhustled throughout despite finishing with the slight edge in inside scoring.
Fouls were a factor as leading scorer Jamal Jones' picked up three in the first half and was limited to eight points, ending a three-game stretch with 22 or more points.
The Wildcats meanwhile were coming off Saturday's 74-66 win over Tennessee that was achieved despite being dominated in many statistical areas including rebounding by the physical Volunteers. That category changed against an Aggies squad that came in averaging nearly seven fewer boards per game than Kentucky, which leads the SEC in rebounding margin (+11.4).
Kentucky's troubling habit of starting slow also ended against Texas A&M as the Wildcats quickly took an 11-5 lead behind two 3-pointers by Andrew Harrison and another from his twin brother Aaron.
Young and Jarrod Polson added long-range baskets to help build a 34-27 halftime lead for the Wildcats, who also outrebounded the Aggies 19-14 through 20 minutes. While Texas A&M's 42 percent shooting was slightly better than Kentucky (40 percent), its offensive energy was lacking with Jones in foul trouble.
Putting away Texas A&M in the second half took some time, but Kentucky built a 46-36 lead on Poythress' flying one-handed dunk and eventually stretched the margin to 21 with 5 minutes remaining.