Aaron Bradshaw propels Kentucky to 81-66 win over Penn

On3 imageby:Tyler Thompson12/09/23


After the loss to UNC Wilmington at home, Kentucky desperately needed to get back in the win column today vs. Penn. It was not pretty, but the Cats beat the Quakers 81-66 in the Malone’s Classic sponsored by Campbell’s at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. With a trio of former Cats — Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — sitting courtside and plenty of Malone’s gift card advertisements on the floor, Kentucky ultimately took care of business to improve to 7-2 on the season.

This was a homecoming for several Kentucky Wildcats, but one outshined the rest. In just his second game back from injury, Aaron Bradshaw was spectacular. The 7-2 freshman notched his first career double-double with a team-high tying 17 points (7-12 FG, 1-2 3PT), 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, and a steal in 29 minutes. He was also tops in plus/minus efficiency at +17.

Bradshaw looked much more comfortable than he did a week ago, providing Kentucky with the rim protection it has lacked and even stepping out and showing off his touch from the outside with a three. According to Corey Price, he is only the second Kentucky player 7’0″ or taller to make a three-pointer (the other was Olivier Sarr). Because of Bradshaw’s big day, Kentucky’s bench had 40 points.

Another Philadelphia-area freshman, DJ Wagner, started after missing the UNC Wilmington game with an ankle injury he suffered vs. Miami. Kentucky struggled without Wagner last week — and the Cats still had plenty of sloppy moments today — but with Wagner back in the lineup, they seemed to find their footing in the second half. Wagner finished with nine points and seven assists in 30 minutes. It was a quiet day for Justin Edwards, the true Philadelphia native, who finished with six points and three rebounds but was in foul trouble throughout.

Kentucky led by 10 at halftime, 39-29, but Penn cut that margin to one with 14:40 to go. The Quakers refused to go away, led by Clark Slajchert, the pesky guard who finished with 17 points, one of four Penn players in double figures. John Calipari said before the game that Penn would attempt over 30 threes. The Quakers came close, going 9-28 beyond the arc, while the Cats were 8-20 from the outside.

Overall, Kentucky shot 49.3% (34-69) from the floor while holding Penn to 45.6% (26-57). Rob Dillingham and Antonio Reeves also finished with double figures, with 17 and 16 points, respectively. With Bradshaw back in full force, there’s some lineup tinkering to do, but the Cats are back in the win column with a big game vs. North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic coming up next week.

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