The Kentucky Wildcats opened the exhibition season Saturday night in Northern Kentucky with the annual Blue-White Game, as the Blue Team came away with the 100-89 victory.
The White Team looked the most stout on paper with DJ Wagner, Justin Edwards, Tre Mitchell, and Antonio Reeves, while walk-on Brennen Canada made up the fifth starter.
However, it was Rob Dillingham who stole the show and carried the Blue Team, which also had Reed Sheppard, Jordan Burks, Adou Thiero, and Joey Hart. Dillingham actually flirted with the Blue-White Game scoring record of 52 set by Terrence Jones in 2011 but came up short with 40.
Zvonimir Ivisic did not play tonight due to precautionary reasons. Thiero made his return after missing the Big Blue Madness scrimmage due to an ankle injury suffered in the Kentucky Pro Day. He was arguably the second-best Wildcat of the night with 26 points on 10/13 shooting.
Justin Edwards also made a strong argument with 26 points, 18 of which came in the second half, to go with 10 boards.
DJ Wagner recorded 20 points on 9/20 shooting with seven rebounds. Jordan Burks chipped in 20 on 8/16 shooting while grabbing five rebounds.
Kentucky is back in action next Friday night when Georgetown College comes to Rupp Arena.
In a game that’s always hard to put much stock in, Dillingham did his best to make sure he was the star of the show, racking up 24 points and four assists in the first half alone. He scored or assisted on more than half of his team’s points in the first half.
Dilly would keep up the scoring in the second half and finished the night with 40 points on 14/23 shooting with seven assists, five rebounds, and four steals. He had 38 points with 10 minutes to go but let his teammates take more of the shots down the stretch.
Few, if anyone expect Dillingham to be an opening-night starter, but the way he looked tonight, it may just be a matter of time before he’s one of the Wildcats’ starting five, even with guys like Wagner, Edwards, and Reeves vying for those spots.
Is it too early to think of a small-ball lineup of Wagner/Dilly/Reeves/Edwards/Mitchell?
The pen is mightier than the sword! Big Z is a popular man here at NKU. pic.twitter.com/xwYHIYtBEW— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) October 21, 2023
NKU head coach Darrin Horn on the mic and telling this crowd that they can root for both UK and the Norse this season. Says that's what he does.— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) October 21, 2023
"My favorite player in college basketball is a Kentucky Wildcat." (UK walk-on Walker Horn is the coach's son.)
21+ feet of whip yo ass this winter. pic.twitter.com/0YUn0hoOy6— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) October 21, 2023
I’m not a big fan of the Princeton Offense…but Tre Mitchell was born to be the 5-man in a Princeton Offense.— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) October 21, 2023
A couple things Kentucky has done tonight look Princeton/Chin adjacent at least. Would love to see some concepts thrown in as set plays. He would thrive in that.
This Kentucky backcourt is going to be hard to guard. So many different guys that can beat you. Makes UK a tough scout.— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) October 21, 2023
Rob is unstoppable right now.— Wyatt Huff (@Wildcat_wave) October 21, 2023
So shifty getting to the basket and creating shots that when he's on, he's ON
Rob DillingHIM.— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 21, 2023
“Oh my golly Robert you’re a wizard with the ball. That little fade away thing wow.” pic.twitter.com/rSbPFbHf1b— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) October 21, 2023
Rob Dillingham has certainly put on a clinic on offense, but I have been impressed most by his activity on defense.— Tristan Pharis (@TristanUda) October 21, 2023
In high school, that was his biggest criticism and it looks like Cal has him bought in.
Today, he has three steals and a handful of deflections.
NEW: Observations from the Kentucky basketball Blue-White Game.— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) October 21, 2023
Rob Dillingham goes off. A new playing style for the Wildcats? Big Z watches from the sidelines, and more insight from the scrimmage. https://t.co/Uq1MxPtsPh
Justin Edwards has a couple of monster dunks in this thing. His handle needs work. His finishing? Just fine. https://t.co/QJoYwFSBFj— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 21, 2023
That's all for the Blue-White Game Presented by Kroger.— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 21, 2023
Blue Team: 100, White Team: 89. pic.twitter.com/PBe5yfqwEK
Quick takeaways from Blue-White game:— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) October 21, 2023
-Rob Dillingham!!! 40 points, 7 assists. STUD.
-DJ Wagner is a DOG. Drives it so hard.
-Adou Thiero has a high floor. Need him to be a great rebounder. Physical tools carry him.
-Tre Mitchell is still the connector that brings it together.
The star of the postgame. Rob Dillingham.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) October 21, 2023
“Those are sharp.” pic.twitter.com/sxPn3HG0Vm
Calipari on Dillingham's night: "He was really efficient ... how about the steals? He didn't just do it on offense he did it defensively."— Aaron Gershon (@agershon99) October 21, 2023
Still can't believe 247 dropped Rob Dillingham down to a 4-star. pic.twitter.com/SOn9itHoHo— Rare Rookies #BBN (@rarerookies) October 21, 2023
Cal said Big Z could have played and he’d be a man of his word but instead let’s worry about the upcoming season. Mentions how sore he’s been from practice.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) October 22, 2023
“Aaron I’m not giving you date because I don’t know a date.”
Rob Dillingham 40 points for the Blue Team pic.twitter.com/XF9tBrZF76— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 21, 2023