Kentucky Wildcats vs. Texas A&M Aggies Pick & Prediction MARCH 15th 2024

Even though ninth-ranked Kentucky secured a double bye in the Southeastern Conference tournament for the third straight season, the last thing the Wildcats want to see is history repeat itself.

After squandering a top-four seed two years in a row, Kentucky (23-8) will have a chance to redeem itself on Friday night when it faces Texas A&M (19-13) in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament in Nashville.

Playing as a No. 3 seed, the Wildcats were ousted in the semifinals in 2022 before having an even shorter stay in the tourney in 2023. Kentucky landed the third seed again, but this time it didn’t win a single game in the conference tournament, upset by sixth-seeded Vanderbilt.

Expectations are higher this time around, as the Wildcats locked down the No. 2 seed. Kentucky has not reached the final since 2018 — when it won the tournament — but forward Ugonna Onyenso said this year’s team has what it takes to make a deep run. He said the Wildcats’ 85-81 win last Saturday over Tennessee proved that.

“I think we’re ready,” Onyenso said. “We have a healthy team now. What a time in the year to have a healthy team. … We just got to be physical. Like I said, come in and play the way we played against Tennessee.

“It’s all mental. We all clicked against Tennessee. We all really did. If we could play like that, from Friday moving on, I think we’ll get to the place everybody expects us to be.”

Antonio Reeves and Reed Sheppard each had 27 points and Justin Edwards added 16 against Tennessee, which sat at No. 4 in the AP poll at the time.

The seventh-seeded Aggies will look to extend the Wildcats’ SEC tournament misfortunes after topping 10th-seeded Ole Miss 80-71 on Thursday night in the second round.

Texas A&M used a balanced attack to oust the Rebels, getting 20 points from Wade Taylor IV, 18 from Tyrece Radford and 13 from Solomon Washington. Radford and Washington each had nine rebounds, and Andersson Garcia chipped in 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Taylor (31 points) and Radford (28) were instrumental in the Aggies’ 97-92 overtime victory against Kentucky on Jan. 13, but both know the past is the past come Friday.

“It was a big game for us, but we can’t bank off that game,” Radford said. “We passed that. We’re a different team now, and they’re a different team. I’m gonna guarantee they’re a different team now, too. So we just can’t think about that.

“Yeah we have big games, but honestly, it’s just on to the next one.”

With that win, Texas A&M snapped a four-game losing streak in the all-time series with the Wildcats. Overall, Kentucky is 11-5 vs. the Aggies.

Between the regular season and Texas A&M’s one tournament game, Taylor has been the team’s leading scorer at an average of 18.1 points per game.

Reeves has led the charge for the Wildcats, finishing the regular season with a scoring average of 20.2.

Both teams are riding winning streaks — Kentucky at five games and Texas A&M at four.

–Field Level Media

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