John Calipari’s team trailed 21-8 in the early part of the game. But a quick 30-9 surge to end the half gave the Wildcats the lead, and they never looked back.
Kentucky won the second half, 43-31, with all five starters finishing in double figures. Antonio Reeves led the way with 21 points, followed by Tre Mitchell with 18, Justin Edwards with 16, Rob Dillingham with 12 and DJ Wagner with 11. The five combined for all but three of the team’s points while shooting over 50% from the field and 35% from 3-point range.
The Wildcats will next head to Chicago, where they’ll face the No. 1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday night. Their matchup will be the second of two games in the State Farm Champions Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 pm ET with the broadcast on ESPN.
At the halfway mark, this had Reed Sheppard written all over it. Though he didn’t score a point in the first half, his energy and impact without shooting the basketball were phenomenal. He single-handedly turned things around for the Wildcats in the first half.
But as great as Sheppard was getting his team back on track, it’s impossible to ignore Antonio Reeves and his scoring. It felt like Reeves was looking to attack almost every trip he made down the court. His 21 points led all scorers and was also a sense of comfort for a young Wildcats team.
The veteran presence Reeves has provided this team through just two games is already abundantly clear, and fans have to be thrilled he returned for another year. He’s definitely going to be at or near the top of the MVP leaderboard when it’s all said and done.
Rob Dillingham fast-break SLAM. pic.twitter.com/e4Z3fXmTbP— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 11, 2023
Goodness. @reed_sheppard is such a force on defense. Forces a 10-second call, already has couple of steals and altered shots— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) November 11, 2023
Sheppard goes out after 14 minutes. That was Anthony Davis-like. Impacted the game without scoring a point. Kentucky leads Texas A&M 38-30 at the half.— John Huang (@KYHuangs) November 11, 2023
DJ, Rob, and Reed are 8/27 shooting. That is why we are looking at the score we are seeing. For the most part, I like their shots, they just aren’t falling.— Matt Sak BBN (@MattSakR2NG) November 11, 2023
In a lot of ways tonight’s game might have played out perfectly. Texas A&M-Commerce played very well, UK still controlled the majority of the game, and a lot of tape exists to show these guys before Kansas that they aren’t as sweet as they probably thought. Learning opportunity!— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) November 11, 2023
Rob Dillingham +3️⃣. pic.twitter.com/8KlwUKuCaV— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 11, 2023
And just like that, Kentucky leads Texas A&M-Commerce 52-37. Tre Mitchell leading the charge here in the second half.— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) November 11, 2023
Antonio Reeves— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) November 11, 2023
11:11 2H - Kentuky 61, Texas A&M Commerce 44— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) November 11, 2023
Cats once again playing squeaky-clean on offense. Only three turnovers tonight. Just nine in their first game and a half.
Finally a made shot by @reed_sheppard but great thing is that does not impact rest of his game. UK 79-59 with 2:13 left— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) November 11, 2023
With no Thiero and no 7-footers, Calipari has rolled with 7 man rotation and probably suits all 7 just fine— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) November 11, 2023
Cats have 5 players with between 5 and 8 rebounds. What it takes with no 7 footers— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) November 11, 2023
Antonio Reeves makes 5 or more 3PFG for the fifth time in his UK career.— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) November 11, 2023
Final Score: Kentucky 81, Texas A&M Commerce 61. With exception of Lions’ exceptionally hot start, game went about as expected. Kentucky players showed nice continued heart and hustle. Shot 48%. Only 3 TO. Reeves leads team in scoring with 21.— John Huang (@KYHuangs) November 11, 2023
Final: Kentucky 81 Texas A&M-Commerce 61— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) November 11, 2023
I didn’t expect to win the first game by 40…and I didn’t expect to “only” win this one by 20. So, we are even.
Some really good reach opportunities will come from the fell of this game. Important leading into Kansas.
‘Cats are 2-0!
Not as clean of a performance as we hoped, but still a LOT of positives.— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) November 11, 2023
-Another game w/ 5 in double-figures.
-Antonio Reeves shoot 5-8 from 3.
-Team still scores 81 despite DJ/Rob/Reed shooting a combined 10-31 from the field.
-3 turnovers. Yes, 3 turnovers! That’s huge.
Kentucky was down 8-0 early and trailed by as many as 13 to the No. 303 team in the country.— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) November 11, 2023
UK led by double digits for the final 16-plus minutes of the game. https://t.co/VfF1ksO2Gg
Final score from Rupp Arena. pic.twitter.com/y9ifHOfJnP— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 11, 2023
Ruoff Mortgage Wildcat Wrap Up https://t.co/WyPPNG8a8G— UK Sports Network (@UKSportsNetwork) November 11, 2023