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. The Cats did just that as they cruised to a win, 101-67.
If you watched the first half, it looked similar to an all-star game out there. Both teams shot the lights out, as the teams combined for 95 points through the first 20 minutes of play. Whether it was Antonio Reeves, Tre Mitchell, Reed Sheppard, Rob Dillingham, or anyone else who saw the court, the Cats were lighting it up from the field as they shot 67% on their way to a 58-37 lead.
Coming out of the gate in the second half, the Skyhawks made a push, cutting it to 13 points and forcing UK into a quick timeout. From that point on, it was all Kentucky, as the speed and the talent propelled them to the blowout victory.
Kentucky has now moved to 3-1 on the season as they prepare for a matchup with St. Joe’s on Monday night.
If you missed the game this evening, here are a few quick takeaways from tonight's win:
3-point shot will be a key part of this offense
One thing that brought this fanbase back to life was the style of play that John Calipari rolled out against the Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday night. The team played with pace, great ball movement, and finally traded in the long 2s for the 3-pointer.
That continued tonight.
The Cats shot the lights out in the first half, on their way to making # threes.
With a true lineup of five guys that can play around the arch, this trend should continue throughout the remainder of the season. Add in one of Aaron Bradshaw, Zvonimir Ivisic, or Ugonna Onyenso to help be a lob threat from the short corners, and then the court is really going to spread.
Going to be a fun offense to watch this season.
Guards continue to dominate
Coming into the season, it was widely expected that the back-court was going to dominate, similar to what we saw in the early days of Calipari in Lexington. That statement continues to hold true after tonight.
Whether it is Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard, DJ Wagner, or Antonio Reeves, each player is starting to build chemistry with the other, making any combination of these four a dangerous duo for opposing teams to see.
That really shows up in the number of turnovers that they have committed through the first four games of the season. It’s not many. They take care of the ball and play confidently. A good mixture to start off the year to build on.
Tre Mitchell becomes a staple
After the first game of the season, John Calipari challenged the BBN to figure out what the “tweak” he made at halftime was. It ended up being to play through Tre Mitchell. Well, it might be understated how important he is to this team.
The Skyhawks played a 3-2 zone just about every possession of the evening, and when the ball reached the middle of the zone (Mitchell), a good shot or pass came out of it. His assist numbers tonight might not be as high as that first game, but if we were counting hockey assists on the season, that number would be through the roof.
Mitchell is the perfect addition to this squad, and he is proving it night in and night out. He finished this game with 15 points, four boards, four assists, and two steals.
Reed Sheppard continues to shine
What a night it was for the freshman from right down the road in London.
Coming into the season, it was expected that he would be an early contributor, I don't know if anyone thought it would be quite like this. After a solid game against Kansas on Tuesday, he continued his hot shooting and displayed his exceptional floor vision once again this evening. Sheppard finished this one with 25 points on 9/10 shooting (7/8 from deep), seven assists, three boards, three steals, and two blocks.
Now, he does make his fair share of mistakes at times, but right now, they seem to be few and far between.
This is going to be fun, folks. Enjoy the ride, because it might only be one season we see Sheppard in Lexington.
Now, let’s discuss the fun win!