Exhale, BBN. It took overtime, but Kentucky improved to 4-1 with a 96-88 win over Saint Joseph’s. Not only did the Cats take home the Wildcat Challenge crown, they won a close game against an opponent who refused to go away — without all of their seven footers.
What Kentucky’s lineup looks like when Aaron Bradshaw and the rest of the big men take the floor remains to be seen, but the Cats’ first stress test at home taught us several things. One, this team is not beyond freshmen moments; however, DJ Wagner is capable of stepping up and being that guy. Wagner and Tre Mitchell both finished with 22 points, and a combined 16 in overtime to lift the Cats to a must-win. Wagner also had a career-high six assists.
Reed Sheppard didn’t score and struggled at times defensively tonight, but finished first in efficiency at +16. He had five steals, four assists, four rebounds, and three turnovers in 25 minutes. Justin Edwards also played well after struggling in recent games, finishing with 12 points (4-6 FG, 2-3 3PT), 3 rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal.
Those are good things, but tonight also showed that Kentucky has work to do on defense and at the free-throw line. The Cats were 18-27 (66.7%) from the charity stripe tonight, with several crucial misses late in the second half.
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