SPORTS VIEW AMERICA – We Are Your Top Sports Source …
Content by – GRAHAM SHEPHERD ——-
Please check us out on X, INSTAGRAM, & FACEBOOK …
Thousands of Sports Photos located at SVA PHOTOS

The No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats returned home to Lexington after a dominant mid-week game against the Vanderbilt Commadores in Nashville (109-77). The ‘Cats met the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Rupp Arena for just the third meeting ever between the two schools. The ‘Cats fell to the Zags by a score of 88-72 in Spokane. The ‘Cats continued their dismal trend in the first half as they never led and were down by 10 points at the half. Calipari began to roll with a group of 5 that played well to begin the second half and the ‘Cats propelled out to as much as a 4-point lead midway through the second half. Coach Calipari was so confident in rolling with his guards in Sheppard and Reeves that Dillingham only collected 4 total minutes in the second half. Adou Thiero was the most consistent player on the court for the ‘Cats throughout the night, ending with 15-points, 4-rebounds, and 5-assists. The game saw momentum swing back and forth through the final moments of the game, but Kentucky couldn’t muster enough consecutive stops to aid their comeback effort. The Zags took advantage of the Kentucky big men all night, scoring 50 of their 89 points in the paint, adding 21 points from the charity stripe. The defensive intensity and toughness of the team is inconsistent and sometimes completely absent. The loss marks the 4th losing effort in the last 6 games, and the third straight home loss. It is the first stretch of three home losses at Rupp Arena in the history of Kentucky basketball. DJ Wagner returned to the Kentucky rotation after missing the last 3 games with an ankle injury. Tre Mitchell was out for the game with a back injury for the second consecutive game.

Gonzaga entered Saturday’s game with a 17-6 record on the season and a 8-2 record in the WCC. The Bulldogs entered the game unranked in the AP Poll and ranked No. 25 in the latest NET rankings. The Zags are led by Graham Ike (15.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 38.5% 3PT), Anton Watson (14.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.7 APG, 44.4% 3PT), and Nolan Hickman (13.0 PPG, 2.1PG, 2.5 APG).

The spread for Saturday nights matchup versus Gonzaga was -4.5 (UK). The Over/Under points total was set at 170.5.

The starting lineup for the ‘Cats featured Reed Sheppard, Antonio Reeves, Justin Edwards, Adou Thiero, and Ugonna Onyenso.

Game Recap:

First Half

The ‘Cats won the tip and scored the first points of the game on a mid-range floater from Edwards. Gonzaga answered with a mid-range jumper from Hickman. Sheppard stole the ball but then turned it back over. The Zags scored on a easy layup from Ike. Gregg then hit a three to extend the Zags lead to 7-2. Sheppard found a slashing Thiero for a baseline slam. The ‘Cats surrendered 3 early offensive rebounds for Gonzaga that resulted in 2 second chance baskets. Gonzaga took an 11-4 lead into the first timeout. Thiero slammed home his own miss to energize the crowd. The ‘Cats trailed 13-6 with 15:36-minutes to play in the half. Wagner hit 1 of 2 free-throws at the line after getting fouled on a drive. Bradshaw picked up two fouls in a span of 15-seconds and quickly returned to the bench. Thiero followed up a missed Dillingham layup with a putback jam. Ivisic made two free-throws after getting fouled to narrow the deficit to 16-11 Gonzaga. Reeves hit a spin move to free up an open layup. Hickman answered with a three to make the score 21-15 Zags at the under 12-minute media timeout. Reeves hit a curling floater. The ‘Cats allowed another bucket off a inbounds play but responded with a Ivisic three. The ‘Cats trailed 25-20 with 7:13-minutes to play. Dillingham hit his first shot of the game, a three to narrow the deficit to 27-23 Zags. Ivisic blocked a wide-open inbounds layup attempt and the ‘Cats ran in transition. Burks hit both free-throws. Wagner rolled in a floater to respond to a Gonzaga make. The teams traded air-ball three-point attempts on their next possessions. Gonzaga led 30-27 at the under 4-minute media timeout. Gonzaga rattled off 5 quick points to extend their lead to 8. Ivisic hit both free-throws after drawing a foul. Gonzaga scored a floater then an and-one chance to extend the lead to 40-29. Dillingham ended a 7-0 Gonzaga run with a corner three. The ‘Cats trailed 42-32 at halftime.

Gonzaga shot 46% from the field but just 21% (3 of 14) from beyond the arc in the first half. The Zags committed just 4 first half turnovers and created 6 assists and 3 steals. Kentucky shot just 32% from the field and 30% (3 of 10) from 3PT. Kentucky also committed just 4 turnovers and created 5 assists and 3 steals. Adou Thiero led Kentucky scorers with 8 first half points.

Halftime: Kentucky 32 – Gonzaga 42

Second Half

Hickman scored the first points of the half from the free-throw line for the Zags. Edwards hit a corner three off an offensive rebound from Onyenso and assist from Thiero. Sheppard drove and scored a layup and picked up a foul for an and-one opportunity. He hit the free-throw to make the score 44-38 Gonzaga. Sheppard answered a Hickman drive with a score of his own. Thiero rejected an Ike attempt. Edwards scored on a driving floater to narrow the score to 46-42 Zags with 17:09-minutes to play. Bradshaw and Thiero energized the crowd with their defensive energy. Bradshaw was fouled hard on a shot attempt and went to the line for free-throws. He hit 1 of 2. Reeves answered a layup from the Zags with a driving attempt off the glass. Watson converted an and-one chance for Gonzaga on the next trip down the floor. Gonzaga led 50-45 at the first media timeout. Bradshaw jammed home a transition miss from Reeves after a Kentucky steal. Sheppard missed a running layup but Thiero followed it with another putback dunk. Sheppard found Reeves for a deep three that he nailed for the first lead of the game for Kentucky at 52-51. It is the first time Kentucky has led in Rupp Arena since January 31 against Florida. Sheppard stole the inbounds pass and ran out in transition for an easy layup. Sheppard then got the defensive rebound and drove the ball for an up and under and-one layup. He hit the free-throw and the ‘Cats led 57-51 on a 12-0 run. Gonzaga finally answered with an and-one from Ike to end the scoring run from Kentucky. Kentucky led 57-54 at the under 12-minute media timeout. Thiero hit a three after two Nemhard free-throws. Dillingham threw the ball up to Reeves who lobbed it for Thiero for a transition slam and a 62-58 Kentucky lead. Gonzaga drew within 1 after two free-throws, 63-62. Gonzaga took the lead off a pick-and-roll slam. Reeves converted an up-and-under and-one chance off an assist from Dillingham to retake the lead. Kentucky led 66-64 after the free-throw. Kentucky left Watson open and he hit a three to give the Zags a 67-66 lead with 7:55-minutes to play. Sheppard drove to the rim for a lay-in following a wide-open bucket for the Zags. Sheppard hit a spinning mid-range shot to keep the ‘Cats within 1, 71-70. Two free-throws put the Zags back up by 3. Reeves went to the line for a 1-and-1. He hit both to make the score 73-72 Gonzaga. Thiero was called for a goaltend, and Sheppard threw the ball away. Sheppard then blocked a three-point attempt and ran out in transition to convert an and-one chance to tie the game at 75. Watson then converted an and-one on the other end to send the game into the under 4-minute media timeout with the Zags leading 77-75. Reeves hit a step-back mid-range jumper to make the score 78-77 Gonzaga. Sheppard hit a leaning floater off the glass to answer two Zags free-throws. The two teams continued to counter each other. Edwards went to the line and hit 1. Thiero gathered the offensive rebound and was fouled with no call. Gonzaga scored off an offensive rebound, Sheppard was fouled on a jump shot and went to the line with the ‘Cats down 84-80. He hit both. Watson scored on a driving lay-in. Sheppard tried to throw a lob to Onyenso and Onyenso was fouled attempting to catch the pass. Onyenso went to the line for 2 free-throws with Kentucky down 86-82. He hit both to make the score 86-84 Gonzaga. The ‘Cats and Edwards shut down the Zags on the last possession and forced a jump ball with 14-seconds to play and the ‘Cats down 2. The ‘Cats called a timeout down 2 to draw up a play. The ‘Cats drew up a play where Sheppard attemped a back door lob to Thiero but the pass was intercepted and the ‘Cats were forced to foul. The ‘Cats fell to Gonzaga by a score of 89-85.

Final: Kentucky 85 – Gonzaga 89

Game Stats:

Gonzaga FG %: 47% (22% 3PT – 4 of 18) (88% FT – 21 of 24)

Kentucky FG %: 46% (35% 3PT – 6 of 17) (82% FT – 23 of 28)

Rebounds: 43 – 31 Gonzaga 

Assist/Turnover Ratio: 10:8

Turnovers: UK (8), Gonzaga (10)

Bench Points: 21 – 12 Kentucky

Points off Turnovers: 13 – 8 Gonzaga

Fast Break Points: 12 – 5 Kentucky

Paint Points: 50 – 40 Gonzaga

Player Stats:

Reed Sheppard – [(21 points) (5 rebounds) (3 assists) (2 steals) (2 blocks)]

Antonio Reeves – [(17 points (1 rebound) (1 assist) (1 steal) (1 block)]

Adou Thiero – [(15 points) (5 rebounds) (2 assists) (1 steal) (3 blocks)]

Justin Edwards – [(8 points) (5 rebounds) (2 steals)]

Zvonimir Ivisic – [(7 points) (3 rebounds) (1 block)]

Rob Dillingham – [(6 points) (2 rebounds) (3 assists) (1 steal)

Ugonna Onyenso – [(3 points) (2 rebounds) (3 blocks)]

DJ Wagner – [(3 points) (1 assist) (1 steal)]

Aaron Bradshaw – [(3 points) (2 rebounds)]

Jordan Burks – [(2 points) (1 rebound)]

The ‘Cats (16-7, 6-4 SEC) return to Lexington to take on the Ole Miss Rebels (18-5, 5-5 SEC) on Tuesday, February 13. Tipoff is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Leave a Reply