Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tennessee Shuffled; A&M Un-Bear-Able

Kentucky 82 Tennessee 76

Upsets are a way of life in the upper echelons of college basketball. Kentucky is making them part of their routine in the SEC.

After handing Vanderbilt their first loss of the season ten days before, skeptics figured the Wildcats couldn't do the same against the deeper, more experienced Volunteers from Tennessee on Tuesday night. As it was, Kentucky had lost two straight after the upset of Vandy, both on the road, to Mississippi St. and Florida.

The skeptics were wrong.

Kentucky used their size advantage inside to upend the #5 Vols, 82-76 as Patrick Patterson scored 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Though star guard Chris Lofton led the way for the Vols with 22, including 5 3-pointers, his offense wasn't enough down the stretch. Kentucky had trailed by 10 in the second half, but Joe Crawford hit back-to-back treys to tie the game with 11 minutes remaining.

The teams traded leads as time wore on, but the Wildcats played solid defense and came away with another unlikely upset at Rupp Arena, where they are 2-0 in SEC play.

The Volunteers fell to 16-2 and 3-1 in the conference, a half game behind the Gators in the SEC East.

Baylor 116 Texas A&M 110, 5 OT

The Aggies probably wish they could start their conference schedule over again. They began play in the Big 12 with a 14-1 record and were fresh off a confidence-building 79-53 romp over LSU. They beat Colorado handily in their conference opener, 86-69, but then lost 2 straight, at Texas Tech and Kansas State.

Heading back to their home court against Baylor should have been just what the doctor ordered to snap them back to life. Instead, they ended in a battle to the death in five overtimes with the Baylor Bears, finally coming out on the wrong end of the score with their third straight loss, 116-110.

The Aggies continue to slide through the rankings, dropping to #16 last week and falling, now that they are now 15-4.

Baylor, on the other hand, should move up on Monday if they can get past 13-5 Oklahoma on Saturday. The bears are tied with #2 Kansas at 4-0 atop the Big 12 standings.

The Bears were led by junior guard Curtis Jerrells, who scored 36 points, including 20-24 from the foul line. Jerrells and his teammates actually won big time at the line, hitting 39-47 (.830) to the Aggies' 36-59 (.608).

80% free throw shooting will serve any team well, especially come March. Beware the Bears.

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