The Kentucky Wildcats looked to get back in the win column tonight as they returned to Rupp Arena for a date with the Stonehill College Skyhawks. That’s exactly what the Cats did as they cruised to a victory, 101-67.
If you watched the first half, it looked like an all-star game. Both teams turned out the lights, as they combined for 95 points in the first 20 minutes of play. Whether it was Antonio Reeves, Tre Mitchell, Reed Sheppard, Rob Dillingham or anyone else having seen the field, the Cats lit it up from the field as they shot 67% en route to a 58-37 lead.
Coming out of the gate in the second half, the Skyhawks made an effort, cutting it to 13 points and forcing UK into a quick timeout. From that point on, it was all Kentucky, as speed and skill propelled them to a resounding victory.
Kentucky has now improved to 3-1 on the season as it prepares for a game against St. Joe’s on Monday night.
If you missed tonight’s game, here are some takeaways from tonight’s win:
The 3-point shot will be a key part of this offense
One thing that brought this fan base back to life was the style of play that John Calipari displayed against the Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday night. The team played with pace, great ball movement and eventually traded long 2s for 3-pointers.
This continued this evening.
The Cats turned out the lights in the first half, en route to a score of three.
With a true lineup of five guys capable of playing around the arc, this trend should continue for the remainder of the season. Add Aaron Bradshaw, Zvonimir Ivisic, or Ugonna Onyenso to help you become a lob threat in the short corners, and the field will really expand.
This is going to be a fun offense to watch this season.
The guards continue to dominate
Coming into the season, the backcourt was generally expected to dominate, similar to what we saw in Calipari’s debut in Lexington. This statement remains true after tonight.
Whether it’s Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard, DJ Wagner, or Antonio Reeves, each player begins to build chemistry with the other, making any combination of these four a dangerous duo for opposing teams to see.
It really shows in the number of turnovers they’ve committed in the first four games of the season. It’s not a lot. They take care of the ball and play with confidence. A good mix to start the year on which to build.
Tre Mitchell becomes a must-have
After the first game of the season, John Calipari challenged the BBN to determine what “adjustment” they made at halftime. It ultimately came down to playing with Tre Mitchell. Well, it may be underappreciated how important he is to this team.
The Skyhawks played a 3-2 zone on just about every possession of the night, and when the ball reached the middle of the zone (Mitchell), a good shot or pass came out. His assist numbers tonight may not be as high as in that first game, but if we counted hockey assists over the season, that number would skyrocket.
Mitchell is the perfect addition to this team, and he proves it night after night. He finished that game with 15 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Reed Sheppard continues to shine
What a night it was for the first year student from near London.
At the start of the season he was expected to be one of the early contributors, I don’t know if anyone thought it would be like that. After a solid game against Kansas on Tuesday, he continued his hot shooting and once again demonstrated his exceptional floor vision tonight. Sheppard finished this one with 25 points on 9/10 shooting (7/8 from deep), seven assists, three rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Now he makes his fair share of mistakes sometimes, but at the moment they seem to be few and far between.
This is going to be fun, folks. Enjoy the ride, because this may just be one season where we see Sheppard in Lexington.
Now let’s talk about the fun victory!
Gn En sports