Now, the loss isn’t ideal for Kentucky, but we did learn just how good this team is right now and how good it can potentially be. And when the Cats get some reinforcements back, this could eventually become one of the best teams in college basketball.
Here are some risers and fallers from Kentucky’s 89-84 loss to the Jayhawks.
Simply put, Dillingham again on Tuesday night showed how important it is to have him on the court and proved the moment wasn’t too big for him. He would go on to score 18 points in 16 minutes. 12 of these points as well as an assist, came in a 14-5 run against Kansas that showed his ability to take over a game at any point.
What a difference a year can make for the growth of a player. Thiero again proved that he is not the freshman we saw last season, but he’s now a critical player for this Kentucky team. Thiero would finish with his first double-double in a Kentucky uniform, scoring 16 and grabbing 13 boards against the Jayhawks.
Much like Dillingham, Sheppard has been used as a spark plug coming off the bench to start this season and has excelled at that role. However, arguments to start both will become louder if performances like this continue for the London, Ky native.
In 16 minutes against Kansas, Sheppard would score 13 points, drilling 4/5 from deep. He also again showed his ability on both ends as he ended with four steals.
Again, this loss will hurt for Kentucky fans, but if these three play this way all year, we could expect the first deep run into March for the first time in what might seem forever.
DJ Wagner and Justin Edwards
The two highly recruited freshmen struggled Tuesday night against the Jayhawks. Going 1/12 from the field, Wagner would finish with just four points. Edwards didn’t do much better as he finished 0/6 from the field, scoring just one point from a free throw. Even more so, both would go 0/3 from 3-point land.
Now, both Wagner and Edwards will have games this season that they will take over and make the difference in winning games for Kentucky, but Kansas was not one of those games. It is important to remember it is still early days for this team, and there will be lots of learning to do. Tuesday night will serve as a lesson for these two.
If one was just looking at game notes from this game, you’d see that Reeves led all Cats with 24 points. This would not tell the whole story. While the Chicago native did lead all Kentucky scorers, he did go 7/25 from the field, missing 14 threes in the process.
Reeves simply had a bad shooting night, and Kentucky fans will know that any other night, he would hit most of those shots that would have made the difference in the end.
It is important to also keep in mind that Kentucky missed the last eight shots from the field, with the only Kentucky point in the final 3:12 of the game being a Tre Mitchell free throw as Kansas outscored UK 11-1 over the final three minutes.
This won’t happen every game. The case with Edwards and Wagner applies to Reeves, who will take over a game at some point this season and be the reason Kentucky wins, not loses.