FINAL: No. 12 Kentucky blasts No. 8 Miami 95-73 in statement victory

On3 imageby:Zack Geoghegan11/28/23

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Kentucky men’s basketball made a statement on Tuesday night against No. 8 Miami (FL): John Calipari’s program has rediscovered its swagger.

The No. 12 Wildcats (6-1) nearly ran the Hurricanes (5-1) right out of Rupp Arena in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge, fueled by a dominating second-half performance that saw the home team win by a final score of 95-73. Powered by Kentucky’s run-and-gun offense, Miami stood no chance as the ‘Cats shot 59.7 percent from the field, 42.9 percent (9-21) from beyond the arc, and 70.6 percent (12-17) from the free throw line. A 53-36 second-half run from UK put this game to bed quickly.

Kentucky was engineered by five double-digit scorers, led by freshman Reed Sheppard and his 21 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Fifth-year senior Antonio Reeves wasn’t far behind with 18 points and four rebounds while fellow fifth-year Tre Mitchell posted 14 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Freshman Rob Dillingham (12 points, nine assists, five rebounds) and Justin Edwards (11 points) also finished in double-figures.

The only bad news for Kentucky was a lower-body injury to freshman guard DJ Wagner that he suffered near the end of the first half. He attempted to return out of the locker room and was even spotted riding the exercise bike during the intermission, but ultimately did not make it back to the bench.

If you were hoping this game would live up to the hype on offense, you didn’t have to wait long for the points to start raining down. The score was already tied 10-10 at the first media timeout as both sides quickly got into a rhythm.

Kentucky would deliver the first punch, jumping ahead 21-11 and forcing the Hurricanes into a timeout. But Miami hit right back with a potentially deadly counter, rattling off an impressive 18-2 run over the course of four minutes that put them in front 29-23. The ‘Canes would hold onto the lead for a few more minutes before the game of runs continued, this time in favor of the ‘Cats.

A massive two-handed dunk from Edwards gave Kentucky the lead back with just over a minute until the break. Back-to-back layups by Reeves and Mitchell pushed UK to a 42-37 advantage going into halftime.

The second half was all Wildcats from start to finish. It started with a 9-2 run that forced Miami to call for a timeout and didn’t slow down after that. A quick 6-0 stretch from Kentucky capped by a Reeves layup made the Hurricanes use another timeout. Just like that, UK was leading by 20 just five minutes into the half.

By the under-12-minute media timeout, Kentucky was on top 73-47 and looking to pour it on even more. The ‘Cats made six of its first seven three-pointers to get the half going — including a 3-3 mark from Sheppard — and held a 23-point lead as the clock dipped under eight minutes. There would be no chance at a comeback attempt for Miami down the stretch as Kentucky ultimately locked up the 22-point win.

Of the Wildcats 37 made baskets, 26 came via an assist. Kentucky turned the ball over just eight times compared to Miami’s 15. The Hurricanes won the rebounding battle 35-29 but UK managed more points in the paint (48-32) and more fastbreak points (23-7).

Next up: Kentucky will return to Rupp Arena to host UNC-Wilmington (5-1) on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 4:00 p.m. EST on the SEC Network.

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2024-02-23