Welp, that was an easy one.
On Wednesday night in Rupp Arena, Kentucky men’s basketball outplayed the North Florida Ospreys from the opening tip, cruising to a 96-56 victory where the final result was never in doubt. It was exactly what the Wildcats needed coming off the loss to Gonzaga and with Thanksgiving break looming. A non-physical North Florida squad never stood a chance.
As a team, Kentucky shot 47.9 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from beyond the arc (9-24), and 81.0 percent from the free-throw line (17-21). UK dominated North Florida on the glass, in the paint, and in transition. The ‘Cats turned it over just once in the first half, closing on seven for the entire game. It was, without a doubt, the easiest win of the season so far.
It didn’t take long at all for Kentucky to (as head coach John Calipari would say) impose its will on the Ospreys. A made jumper by Oscar Tshiebwe put the score at 14-5 with 15:12 to go in the first half. From there, UK began to roll against a clearly inferior opponent. The lead swelled to 20-plus around the six-minute mark and settled on a 31-point advantage at the halftime break.
Kentucky can thank Antonio Reeves for the big lead, too. He finished the first half with 18 points on 7-9 shooting, including a 4-5 mark from distance. He drilled a pull-up triple right before the buzzer that pushed the lead over 30. Meanwhile, Tshiebwe posted 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks across the opening 20 minutes.
Out of the locker room, there wasn’t much left the ‘Cats needed to do but play sound basketball. Kentucky’s lead eventually ballooned to 40-plus as Jacob Toppin began to heat up. After dropping eight points in the first half, Toppin finished his night with a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds on 7-15 shooting for his second double-double of the season. Tshiebwe went for an impressive stat line of 16 points (8-11 shooting), 15 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks in just 22 minutes.
Up next for Kentucky is a five-day gap for Thanksgiving break before coming back to Rupp Arena for an in-state showdown with Bellarmine. After that, the ‘Cats will prepare to head to London for a matchup against Michigan on Dec. 4.