After losing in College Station this past weekend, the Kentucky Wildcats earned an impressive bounce-back victory, beating Mississippi State 90-77 in Rupp Arena on Wednesday night.
While the win for Kentucky wasn’t at all perfect by any means, offensively, the Cats simply overpowered MSU, who had given up 80 points in a game just twice all season, with Kentucky hitting that mark at the final TV timeout, ending with 90 total which is also the most allowed under Chris Jans.
Four Cats would finish in double figures, led by Antonio Reeves with 27 on 8/12 shooting and a perfect performance at the line, hitting 9/9.
Rob Dillingham also continued to impress as he added 16 points, four assists, and four rebounds, which was followed by Tre Mitchell with 15 on 5/5 shooting. Aaron Bradshaw also had a solid outing with 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals in 25 minutes.
Now, here are three risers and one faller from Kentucky’s loss to A&M and win over MSU.
Now, there were some other players who had more of an impact than Wagner on Wednesday, and this would be evident when looking at the box score, but the importance of the New Jersey native being on the court cannot be understated. Even though Wagner scored just seven points against the Bulldogs, the talented guard had 18 against the Aggies in the loss inside Reed Arena.
Wagner also had two assists along with a steal to add to his performance, which saw plenty of him driving downhill to attack the rim. Those didn’t always fall on Wednesday night. However, his aggressive playstyle that so many Kentucky fans are beginning to expect from the freshman still does create a lot of second-chance points off the board for some of the team’s big men.
Even though he may not have been lights out against the Bulldogs, simply put Wagner makes this team the best version of themselves they can be each time he hits the court. Even more so when thinking about where this team might be ranked if he was available to play in the UNC Wilmington loss from earlier this season.
Ugo had a career night against the Aggies after being forced to play 32 minutes due to Aaron Bradshaw’s foul trouble. The sophomore big man responded with 10 rebounds against A&M along with five blocked shots.
While Onyenso played only 17 minutes Wednesday night against Mississippi State, he still made a significant impact on the game by blocking four shots and sharing the team-high for boards with Bradshaw with six rebounds as well as adding four blocked shots.
The rise of Onyenso has been a very pleasant surprise, one that’s helped Kentucky overcome the loss of Adou Thiero to injury.
There’s no question that fifth-year senior Antonio Reeves is playing the best basketball of his career. Against the Aggies and Bulldogs, Reeves shot a combined 15/27 from the field, 7/15 from deep, and 12/13 from the free-throw line while playing 62 minutes and grabbing 10 rebounds to go with four assists.
As of now, Reeves is logging career-highs in field-goal percentage (51.7%), 3-point percentage (42.6%), rebounds (4.4), and free-throw percentage (86.9%).
More Antonio Reeves stats.— Zack Geoghegan (@ZGeogheganKSR) January 18, 2024
According to Basketball-Reference, there are 14 players (only 2 in P5) in the country shooting at least:
Reeves has taken 207 FGA already. The next closest guy with those minimum shooting splits has just 83 FGA.
Simply put, a lot of Kentucky players had a great game on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for Edwards, he continued to be a quiet threat and still hasn’t hit the expectations that were placed on him in the preseason.
Edwards scored just one bucket against the Bulldogs going 1/3 from the field. He also finished two boards and two assists with two turnovers. While he didn’t necessarily have a bad game, he didn’t have a good one either.
Things weren’t much better against Texas A&M. Despite the game going into overtime, Edwards played just 22 minutes with no fouls committed, so he can’t blame foul trouble for his diminishing role.
Now, there will be at some point this season, there will be a game that Edwards goes out and wins for Kentucky, but unfortunately for him, it just hasn’t happened yet for the Philadelphia native.
Perhaps that game might just be this upcoming Saturday as the Cats return to Rupp Arena to take on a solid Georgia Bulldogs squad.