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The No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Stonehill Skyhawks 101-67 on Friday night at Rupp Arena. The ‘Cats were led by Freshman Guard Reed Sheppard from London, KY. Sheppard shot a fiery 7 of 8 from 3PT range and totaled a game-high 25 points. Sheppard also displayed continued good court vision, adding 7 assists. Dillingham also continued his hot start to the season, scoring 20 points and adding 7 assists. The ‘Cats played well all around but lacked defensive focus at times during the game. The lightning quick pace the ‘Cats have exhibited to begin the season continued as the ‘Cats got up 61 shots in the game and 32 3PT attempts. The Skyhawks played a zone most of the game and the ‘Cats regularly found open shooters who made their shots. The ‘Cats shot an ultra-efficient 64% from the field and 53% from beyond the arc.

The ‘Cats entered Friday night’s game after a mid-week loss in Chicago to the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks. The competitive 89-84 loss to the Jayhawks showed a glimpse of what this Kentucky team can be as the season continues and the player rotation add its big men in Bradshaw and Ivisic. Kentucky had up to a 14-point lead over Kansas during Tuesday night’s game, but ultimately dropped the game down the stretch. Stonehill entered the game just 1-3 on the season with big losses to George Washington, UCONN, and St. Josephs. The Skyhawks began their transition to Division I in April 2022. The Skyhawks went 14-17 in their first season at the Division I level a year ago.

The spread for Friday night’s matchup was -37.5 (Kentucky), with an Over/Under points total set at 146.5.

The starting lineup for the ‘Cats featured DJ Wagner, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, Adou Thiero, and Tre Mitchell.

Game Recap:

First Half

Stonehill scored the first points of the game on a long two-point jumper after a missed Edwards corner three. Stonehill then followed with a deep three to push their early lead to 5-0. Mitchell scored the first points of the game for the ‘Cats, but the Skyhawks hit another three on the next trip. Wagner responded with a three-pointer at the top of the key. The Skyhawks began the game hitting their first 4 shots from the floor. Kentucky scored on back-to-back floaters for a 4 for 4 FG run of their own. Thiero hit 2 free-throws to put the ‘Cats in front 11-10. Sheppard and Dillingham checked in for Kentucky. After a long possession of passing for Kentucky, Reeves found a loose ball and scored at the rim again. Dillingham pushed the ball up the court to find Reeves for an open three. Kentucky led 16-12 at the first media timeout in a fast-paced start. Stonehill shot 63% from the field to begin the game, while the ‘Cats were even more efficient at 67%. Reeves scored 9 of the first 16 points for Kentucky. Stonehill hit a three out of the timeout but Reeves responded with another three of his own. Dillingham created a steal and Mitchell hit a three at the top of the key to give Kentucky a 22-15 lead. Sheppard nailed his first three of the game. Sheppard then followed with another three -pointer. Kentucky led 30-15 at the under 12-minute media timeout after a 14-0 run over the course of the last 2:38-minutes. Kentucky shot 79% (11 of 14 FG) from the field and 86% (6 of 7 3PT) from three-point range to begin the game. Wagner hit his second three of the game after Stonehill ended Kentucky’s run. Sheppard hit his third three of the game to push Kentucky in front 36=19. Sheppard then made a good defensive play on a block in the paint. Dillingham stole the ball and converted a crafty layup in transition. Kentucky led 40-21 at the under 8-minute media timeout. Stonehill hit back-to-back threes to narrow the score to 42-27 ‘Cats. Sheppard hit his fourth three of the game to push the Kentucky lead to 49-30. Kentucky led 53-32 at the under 4-minute media timeout. Dillingham again crafted his way to a difficult layup. Dillingham then hit his first three of the game from a Sheppard assist. Kentucky led 58-37 at the half.

Kentucky shot 67% from the field in the half and 63% (10 of 16 3PT) from three-point range. The Kentucky defense was not sharp in the half, allowing 50% shooting from Stonehill in the half and 39% from beyond the arc. Mitchell led the ‘Cats with 13 first half points, while Sheppard went 4 for 4 from 3PT in the half for 12 points, adding 5 assists. Reeves also contributed 12 first half points. The ‘Cats collected 16 assists to just 3 turnovers in the half, while creating 6 steals on the defensive end.

Halftime: Kentucky 58 – Stonehill 37

Second Half

Stonehill began the half on a quick 9-3 run with the ‘Cats struggling to get their offense rolling. Reeves finally scored the first points of the half for the ‘Cats with a three. Sheppard hit consecutive threes, putting him at 6 of 7 from three-point range in the game, giving the ‘Cats a 71-48 lead with 14-minutes to play. Stonehill scored on consecutive possessions to narrow the lead back to 19 at 71-52 Kentucky. Sheppard found Dillingham open in the corner for a three and he was fouled on the play for a chance at a 4-point play. Kentucky led 74-52 at the under 12-minute media timeout. Dillingham hit the free-throw to convert the 4-point play. Wagner nailed a three for the ‘Cats, his third of the game. Stonehill responded with a three of their own. Sheppard hit his seventh three of the game to give him 21 points. Thiero drove to the paint and scored on a floater. Sheppard pulled up from the free-throw line in transition. Kentucky led 86-55 with 6:03 minutes to play. Sheppard found Dillingham slashing in transition for an and-one opportunity. The ‘Cats were on a 17-3 run over the last 6-minutes of game action. Sheppard stole a pass and beat his man one-on-one in transition for a layup at the rim. The ‘Cats led 92-59 with 3:54-minutes to play. Dillingham hit a three out of the media timeout. Kentucky finished the scoring with a Burks driving layup. The ‘Cats defeated the Skyhawks 101-67.

Final: Kentucky 101 – Stonehill 67

The ‘Cats were led on offense by the guards off the bench in Sheppard and Dillingham. Those two outplayed Wagner and Edwards once again as Kentucky’s highest potential players continue to find their footing in the college game. The ‘Cats continued their “gang rebounding” effort, with 7 players collecting 4 or 5 rebounds. The Kentucky offense continues to look smooth and fluid with the team collecting 26 assists and breaking the zone with 17 made three-pointers.

Game Stats:

Stonehill FG %: 38% (28% 3PT – 11 of 39) (67% FT – 8 of 12)

Kentucky FG %: 64% (53% 3PT – 17 of 32) (75% FT – 6 of 8)

Rebounds: 36 – 29 Kentucky

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 26:14

Turnovers: UK (14) *season high, Stonehill (14)

Points off Turnovers: 22 – 10 Kentucky

Fast Break Points: 11 – 4 Kentucky

Paint Points: 36 – 20 Kentucky

Player Stats:

Reed Sheppard – [(25 points) (3 rebounds) (7 assists) (3 steals) (2 blocks)]

Rob Dillingham – [(20 points) (4 rebounds) (7 assists) (2 steals)]

Tre Mitchell – [(15 points) (4 rebounds) (4 assists) (2 steals)]

Antonio Reeves – [(15 points (5 rebounds) (4 assists)]

DJ Wagner – [(9 points) (5 rebounds) (3 assists) (1 steal) (2 blocks)]

Justin Edwards – [(9 points) (5 rebounds) (1 assist) (1 block)]

Adou Thiero – [(6 points) (5 rebounds) (1 block)]

Jordan Burks – [(2 points) (4 rebounds)]

The next chance to catch the ‘Cats on the court is next Monday, November 20 as they stay home to play the St. Joseph’s Hawks (3-1). Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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