The Kentucky Wildcats were in action Wednesday afternoon as they tipped off their summer trip to Canada with a matchup against Team Germany in the GLOBL JAM event.
It was a very solid start defensively for the Cats as they were able to force several early turnovers allowing them to jump out to an early lead.
However, Germany battled back, and at the end of the first quarter, it was tied up at 17.
Team Germany came out on fire from three early in the second quarter, allowing them to build a 26-21 lead with just over 6 minutes to go.
Kentucky once again turned up the defense in order to answer Germany’s run as the Cats went on a 16-2 run to take a 35-28 lead.
Germany wasn’t going to go away and used their three point shooting to steady the ship. However, it was Kentucky taking the 39-36 lead into halftime.
Kentucky came out hot to start the second half as they were able to build a 47-42 lead early on in the half.
Germany once again used threes to cut back into the lead, but with just under 4 minutes remaining in the quarter, Kentucky held a 58-47 lead.
Down the stretch of the quarter, Kentucky really started to take control of the game and was able to take a 64-52 lead into the fourth.
The fourth quarter got started with Adou Thiero getting to the free throw line, followed by a three from DJ Wagner as Kentucky expanded their lead to 68-52.
Germany never quit all game, and that same fight continued to show up in the fourth quarter as they cut the lead to 75-67 with just under 2 minutes to play.
Down the stretch, the Cats did what they needed to in order to close this game out and get the 81-73 win.
Here are 6 things to know from Kentucky’s win.
Antonio Reeves shined
Reeves was the most consistent scorer last season, and his ability to shoot the three at a high rate is going to be massive for this team.
His last outing in the NCAA Tournament was an unfortunate time for that type of performance. However, he is exactly what this team needed, and he proved that in game one.
Reeves finished the game with 24 points while shooting 8/16 from the field and 3/7 from three. He also added 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and a steal.
We should all expect a huge season from Reeves, and Wednesday was a great way for him to kickstart the 2023-24 season.
DJ Wagner was as good as advertised
We finally got to see Wagner suit up for the Cats, and he shined.
Wagner was doing a lot for the Cats as he finished with 16 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
The blemish on his performance was him turning the ball over 5 times which can’t happen in the regular season. But once again, it is July, and Wagner was impressive all game.
This Cat has a bright future.
Kentucky was impressive defensively
Throughout the offseason, a concern expressed by many was this team’s defense.
Wednesday showed that this team has the potential to be an outstanding defensive team as they forced Germany to turn the ball over 22 times and recorded 5 blocks.
The one blemish defensively was the three-point defense, as Germany converted 13/41 threes. However, it is July, and that is fixable.
The encouraging part was Kentucky getting defensive help from multiple players.
Adou Thiero looks like a new player
Last season, Thiero showed flashes of what he was capable of on the court. We all hoped that he would take a big step forward this offseason and be more of a contributor for this team.
Through one game at GLOBL JAM, it looks like he may be taking that leap forward and can be a big contributor this season.
For the game, he finished with 9 points, and he made a big impact defensively and on the glass as he also added 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Tre Mitchell is a three-point weapon
A very late addition to Kentucky’s 2023-24 roster had a massive impact on Wednesday as Mitchell showed how much he can help this team’s offense.
Mitchell finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. However, the key part of his stats is the fact that he was 4/6 from three.
It looks like Mitchell is a gem that just happened to fall in Kentucky’s lap, and if he can shoot the three like he did Wednesday, the Cats will be hard to guard.
Justin Edwards struggles
Edwards was one of the stars in Kentucky’s 2023 recruiting class. However, it wasn’t the debut that he hoped for or that we expected to see.
For the game, Edwards finished with 4 points on 2/8 shooting and looked a step behind on defense. However, he did find ways to positively impact the game as he also added 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal.
Despite the struggles, I would not expect this to be a trend with Edwards, and I fully expect him to have a huge game at some point this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the leading scorer on Thursday.
What was your biggest takeaway from the game? Let us know in the comments section!