COLLEGE STATION — All it takes is one player to change the outcome of a game. For Texas A&M, Immanuel Quickley proved that point. Behind a career-high 30 point production from the sophomore, the Wildcats ended A&M's three-game winning streak Tuesday night, 69-60.
Quickley would also shoot eight 3-pointers, surpassing another career-best. He also would become the first Kentucky player since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to surpass the 30-point marker.
"I really thought I had four and then I looked at it and said, `I don't remember any of those," Quickley said on his record-setting three's.
His teammates couldn't help but agree.
"Super hot, super hot fire," Forward EJ Montgomery said. "If you touch him, you're going to get burned."
The Wildcats (23-5, 13-2 SEC) would continue their winning ways to seven with a stop off in College Station. As for the Aggies (14-13, 7-6 SEC), their issues against ranked opponents continue to be an issue, dating back long before the Buzz Williams era to 2018 against North Carolina.
Quickley not only broke the record held by Gilgeous-Alexander but also passed Malik Monk for consecutive games with at least 25 points in 2017. He would only build off his 26-point performance against Florida earlier this weekend.
Quenton Jackson ended the Aggies' drought by putting back a dunk, putting up the first points in eight minutes for the maroon and white. Kentucky would lead by 13 points with six minutes remaining in the game. An 8-2 run by Williams' squad would cut the lead to seven as the clock just ticked past four minutes.
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“I think our premise defensively is to do everything that we can to keep the ball out of the paint," Williams said. "We can’t afford to foul. We can’t afford to get in rotation."
Quickley brought life back to the Kentucky bench with a jump shot off another 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 62-51 lead ending into the final 90 seconds. Wendell Mitchell would lead A&M with 18 points while Savion Flagg and Josh Nebo tacked on 17 and 14 points, respectively.
“He’s one of my favorite guys ever that I’ve only coached for one year. I just love what he’s about," Williams said of Mitchell. "I think this is his fifth year of college and his fourth coaching staff. He’s been 10 toes in relative to what we’re asking of him every single day."
An early second half start from John Calipari's roster led the Wildcats eventual win. Ashton Hagans would score on a 3-point play to give Kentucky a 14 point lead before an 8-0 run led by Nebo would bring the two within six with 14 minutes on the clock.
The Aggies will need to bounce back over the weekend against LSU to keep their hopes alive for the NIT in Manhattan later the year. A struggle loss towards the end of the season could make or break their chances to represent the SEC in any tournament at all.
One game after scoring season-highs in points and shooting percentage, A&M reverted to their old ways of shooting. The team would make 41.7% from the field while only hitting 10 shots (47.7%) behind the arc.
Hope, however, is not dead in the eyes of a Hall of Fame coach looking in on the Aggies' season.
“Yeah, they can make the postseason, but it’s not over yet," Kentucky's John Calipari said. "You don’t know what’s going to happen. They just won three in a row. Now they can say ‘Let’s get into this [conference] tournament and do something crazy."
The Aggies will hope to rebound this weekend in Baton Rouge before traveling to the plains of Auburn to face a pair of Tigers. The last outing against Will Wade's staff, A&M, would take them to overtime on their court before falling short.