Derek Willis’s 3-pointer with 1:01 left in overtime put Kentucky ahead to stay, and the 16th-ranked Wildcats beat No. 17 Texas A&M, 82-77, in overtime on Sunday for their second straight Southeastern Conference Tournament championship and 29th overall.
These teams split the regular season title after the Aggies edged Kentucky in College Station in overtime on Feb. 20. But SEC Tournament titles are treasured by Kentucky faithful, and the Wildcats (26-8) gave fans yet another to celebrate in a game they have lost only 10 times in the program’s storied history.
Tyler Ulis scored a career-high 30 points, including Kentucky’s final point on a free throw with 8.7 seconds left. Jamal Murray added 17 points, and Willis, Alex Poythress and Isaiah Briscoe all finished with 10.
Danuel House scored a career-high 32 points for Texas A&M (26-8). Jalen Jones had 15 points, and Alex Caruso added 11.
Texas A&M hadn’t played for a tournament title since 1994 or won one since 1987. The Aggies’ drought continues after they found themselves playing essentially a road game before an arena smothered in Kentucky blue with fans roaring every basket by the Wildcats.
In a game featuring 10 ties and eight lead changes, Kentucky had the biggest lead at seven points with 3:59 left on a 3-pointer by Murray and were up 71-65 on two free throws by Poythress with 1:43 left in regulation.
House forced overtime with the performance of his career, even though he was bent over late with his hands on his knees. He hit a 3-pointer, then tied it at 71 with a driving layup with 18.7 seconds left. Guarded by Caruso, Ulis’ fallaway jumper hit off the front rim to force the teams to keep playing.
The Aggies’ senior guard hit his last 3 to force the final tie at 75, then Willis hit his 3 to put Kentucky ahead to stay. Murray added a 3 with 15.8 seconds left. House missed two 3-point attempts, including one just before the buzzer that Isaiah Briscoe rebounded and then celebrated the win by tossing the ball high up in the air near the top of the video board.
Texas A&M led 38-34 after a first half where the Aggies’ biggest lead was six points.
Ulis, the SEC coaches’ pick for both the league’s player and defensive player of the year, scored 15 points in the second half in helping the Wildcats have a chance to add yet another title.