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Kentucky defeats Team Canada in Gold Medal Game: 3 things to know and postgame cheers

The Cats cap off a fun summer trip with their fourth win in five games to grab the gold medal in the 2023 GLOBL JAM event.

Antonio Reeves. Huddle. Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats ran away from Team Canada in the 2023 Globl Jam Gold Medal matchup on Sunday night by a score of 89-72.

The Cats played four games in five days in Toronto in what was not your usual international competition for Kentucky. The Baylor Bears went 1-4 in this tournament just one year ago, albeit against much stronger competition.

Regardless, the matchups were much more competitive than those in recent international trips, although we should all remember to take these games with a grain of salt. Different rules, different ball, etc. Still, it gives us an idea of what this team may be able to do.

Kentucky came out scalding hot to start the game, but Canada didn't back away from the fight. This was a fight for international supremacy, and Canada wouldn't be embarrassed twice on a national stage. So, despite the strong start, the Cats led just 45-39 at the half.

After the break, Kentucky set the tone and left no doubt out on the court. They extended their lead to as many as 20 in the second half and had an answer every time Canada tried to claw their way back.

It was a fun trip, and I know all of BBN enjoyed watching basketball in July.

So, what did we learn?

Mitchell was the perfect pickup

Well, it might not have been done the way John Calipari drew it up, but a tumultuous offseason for Bob Huggins capped off with a DUI leading to his termination was a huge blessing for the Cats.

Tre Mitchell has been all over the place in his college career as it started with the Massachusetts Minutemen, followed by the Texas Longhorns, then the West Virginia Mountaineers, before he entered the transfer portal for a third time after Huggins was fired (resigned? who knows?). It was only a matter of days before Mitchell was a Wildcat.

Mitchell not only brings much-needed experience to a young Wildcat squad, but he brings a look different than that of Ugonna Onyenso—he’s a big who can shoot the lights out. And he did just that in his short time across the border while also providing a paint presence and a glass eater. He picked up a double-double in this contest.

I think Mitchell was brought in to play the four, but he’s a perfect modern five. It’ll be interesting to see the way he’s utilized this season as I’m not sure he’s quick enough to guard college fours, but he can shoot, pass, and rebound, which means he could step right in as a better version of Jacob Toppin. Keep in mind, the Cats were without Onyenso and Aaron Bradshaw, so it’s yet to be seen what this team will look like at full strength.

Edwards is the real deal

Justin Edwards was part of Kentucky’s heralded freshman class, but he seems often forgotten due to DJ Wagner, Kentucky legacy, Reed Sheppard, and of course, the Bradshaw drama. However, he shouldn't be because this kid’s a stud.

Edwards established himself early and often on his way to 17 first-half points and was Kentucky’s leading scorer for the contest. His ability to score at all three levels is impressive for his age and shows why he’ll be a top-10 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

He looks most comfortable working in the midrange with his floater and jump shot, but he can knock down threes at a decent clip, and his length allows him to finish at the basket with ease.

What’s even better is Edwards is a lockdown defender. He’s in the Michael Kidd-Gilchrist mold with a better offensive repertoire. That’s not to say he’s the next MKG, but his defensive chops show an uncanny resemblance to the former Cat.

Run, run, run and shoot

I think this is the best way to describe this Kentucky team based on what we’ve seen so far. They are going to run like crazy, and they're going to shoot a lot.

This is a different style of basketball that we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the last several seasons, and it's a joy to see. Kentucky hasn't had the penetrators and shot-creators needed to run Cal’s patented dribble-drive offense.

This year, they have multiple guys that can not only take their guy off the dribble and get to the rim at will, but they also have plenty of outside shooting threats. I’ve been critical of Cal, but I do truly believe he made an attempt to acquire more veterans and shooters to adapt to modern basketball. The issue is they just didn't have the talent or wherewithal to execute it.

It looks like they do now, and the early offensive years may be back.

We’ve got a long way to go before the season starts, but I’ve seen enough to know this team is capable of something special. Will it materialize over time? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that Cat fans should be hopeful and excited for this upcoming season.

Go Cats!