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The No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Missouri Tigers by a score of 90-77 on Tuesday night in Rupp Arena. Despite the windy and cold weather, the Wildcat faithful filled Rupp Arena nicely for the SEC home-opener. The ‘Cats got off to a hot start in the first 10-minutes of the first half, growing their lead to as much as 14 before the Tigers turned up their defensive intensity. The ‘Cats struggled with the physicality of the Tigers and the slowed pace of the game. The ‘Cats scored just 12 points the last 10-minutes of the half and took a small 47-42 lead into the locker room. Missouri shot 55% from the field in the first half (46%, 6 of 13 3PT) while the ‘Cats shot 47% after a very hot start and just 33% (5 of 15) from beyond the arc in the first half. The ‘Cats committed 5 first half turnovers (6 assists) to Missouri’s 7 turnovers (8 assists) and each team created 3 steals in the first half. The second half featured 25 total fouls and 35 free-throws between both teams as the game continued its drastically slower pace. The ‘Cats kept their focus on both ends of the floor as the lead was never in any true danger. The ‘Cats defense also held the Tigers offense to just 1 of their last 15 field goals to end the game.

Big man Zvonimir Ivisic is still sitting out due to eligibility issues with the NCAA. Adou Thiero was also out for the game after missing the last 2 games.

The spread for Tuesday nights matchup versus the Missouri Tigers was -11.5 (UK). The Over/Under point total was set at 159.5.

The starting lineup for Kentucky featured DJ Wagner, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, Tre Mitchell, and Aaron Bradshaw.

Game Recap:

First Half

Kentucky won the tip and score the first points of the game on a Mitchell three. Missouri responded with a three of their own from Honor. The ‘Cats found Mitchell again for another three to make the score 6-3 ‘Cats. The Tigers responded with a layup through contact and a three to take an 8-6 lead over Kentucky. Wagner drove to the basket and scored via a layup. Mitchell scored a step-back mid-range jumper to tie the score at 10. Reeves drove the basket and scored after a euro-step move. Wagner nailed a long jumper a step inside the three-point line. The score sat at 14-12 Kentucky at the first media timeout. Wagner was fouled on a three-point attempt. He hit all three free throws to push the ‘Cats lead to 19-12. Sheppard, Dillingham, and Onyenso checked in for the ‘Cats with 14:10-minutes to play. Dillingham created his own shot in the middle of the pain and hit a jumper. Reed peeled off a pick and nailed his first shot of the game, a three to put the ‘Cats in front 25-18. Wagner broke the full-court press and found Dillingham for a wide-open three. Wagner drove to the pain again for another easy and athletic lay-in. Dillingham then made an athletic play at the rim of his own, giving the ‘Cats a 32-21 lead. Dillingham caught the inbounds from way beyond the arc and hit a deep three. The Tigers rattled off 7 quick points that brought the score back to within 10 at 35-28, triggering a quick Kentucky timeout. Carter hit another three for Missouri to narrow the score to 35-31 ‘Cats. Bradshaw finished a 3-minute Kentucky scoring drought with a baseline jumper. Sheppard found Bradshaw for an alley-oop dunk. Reeves hit two free-throws to make the score 41-34 Kentucky with 5-minutes to play in the half. The Tigers added another three as the ‘Cats took a 41-37 lead into the under 4-miunte media timeout. Mitchell rejected Carter at the rim on an attempted layup. Wagner once again sped by his defender off the dribble for a score at the rim. The Tigers converted an and-one opportunity with 5-seconds to play in the half. The ‘Cats led 47-42 at the half.

Halftime: Kentucky 47 – Missouri 42

Second Half

The second half started sloppy for both teams with bodies hitting the deck on almost each trip down the floor. The first points of the half came from two Missouri free-throws that brought the score to 47-44 ‘Cats. Edwards converted an and-one opportunity on the next trip down the court. Mitchell nailed a fadeaway jumper in the pain that brought the score to 51-44. Bradshaw hit another baseline jumper. Edwards ran in transition for an easy score to push the ‘Cats lead back to 9 at 55-46 with 17:08-minutes to play. Mitchell hit another jumper in the lane to push the score to 59-48 Kentucky. The Tigers responded with a three on the other end. Dillingham hit a long jumper just inside the three-point line. Sheppard found a cutting Mitchell for an easy lay-in to make the score 63-53. Wagner nailed a deep three in response to an East II finger roll layup. Missouri then responded with a three of their own from Honor. Dillingham pulled up from three for another score. The ‘Cats led 71-60 with 11:07-minutes to play in the game. Reeves hit a transition jumper off a touch pass from Bradshaw. Reeves cut to the basket for a slam. The ‘Cats led 75-66 at the under 8-minute media timeout. Both teams went on 3-minute scoring droughts following a slew of free-throws and a couple buckets. Missouri went a stretch just 1 of their last 12 field goals. The ‘Cats led 80-70 with 3:57-minutes to play. Mitchell hit a barrage of free-throws and Dillingham found Bradshaw for an alley-oop lay-in. The ‘Cats led 86-73 with 1:30-minutes to play. Dillingham hit both sets of free-throws on separate trips for the ‘Cats and Kentucky led 90-77 with 40-seconds to play. The ‘Cats went on to win the game with a score of 90-77 Kentucky.

Final: Kentucky 90 – Missouri 77

Game Stats:

Missouri FG %: 43% (29% 3PT – 8 of 28) (77% FT – 17 of 22)

Kentucky FG %: 50% (30% 3PT – 7 of 23) (84% FT – 27 of 32)

Rebounds: 42 – 27 Kentucky  

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 14:13

Turnovers: UK (13), Missouri (11)

Bench Points: 26 – 10 Kentucky

Points off Turnovers: 16 – 4 Kentucky

Fast Break Points: 15 – 15 Tie

Paint Points: 28 – 24 Kentucky

Player Stats:

Rob Dillingham – [(23 points) (2 rebounds) (2 assists) (2 steals)]

Tre Mitchell – [(20 points) (14 rebounds) (3 assists) (2 blocks)]

DJ Wagner – [(16 points) (1 rebound) (3 assists)]

Antonio Reeves – [(14 points (6 rebounds) (1 assist) (1 steal)]

Aaron Bradshaw – [(10 points) (6 rebounds) (1 assist)]

Justin Edwards – [(4 points) (2 rebounds) (1 steal)]

Reed Sheppard – [(3 points) (4 assists) (2 steals)]

Ugonna Onyenso – [(3 rebounds) (1 block)]

The ‘Cats (12-2, 2-0 SEC) hit the road for their next matchup as they head to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies (9-5, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday, January 13. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on ESPN.

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