The Kentucky Wildcats began their celebratory week with a victory over the Saint Joseph Hawks at Rupp Arena, 96-88.
It was a back and forth game for much of the first half. The Cats once again got off to a slow start, forcing John Calipari’s hand to insert Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham right after the under-16 media timeout.
From that point on, Kentucky traded blows with the Hawks throughout the half, as UK’s offense remained hot, shooting 54 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.
Ultimately, the Cats took the lead in the final minute to take a 41-38 lead into the locker room.
The second half was a fight. If Kentucky went on a run, St. Joe’s would respond with a short run to close the gap. Hot shooting nights for both teams continued, with the match ultimately coming down to the final shot.
After a DJ Wagner missed a layup, the Cats and Hawks headed to overtime.
The OT period was Tre Mitchell’s time to shine. Hitting two 3s to open the lead for the Cats, he then helped ice the game with two decisive free throws before the final minutes of the game.
The Hawks gave Kentucky everything they could want in tonight’s game, including outscoring the Cats 42-37. While Aaron Bradshaw and Zvonimir Ivisic are seemingly just a few games away from making their debuts, they will surely help close that gap when the team faces tall opponents.
The score of the box
This award could have gone to several different players, including DJ Wagner, who played in his first big game in a Kentucky uniform, but we have to give this one tonight to Tre Mitchell.
He finished the night with 22 points on 7-15 shooting and 4-10 from deep. He also added six rebounds, four assists, four blocks and a steal in tonight’s win.
With the seven-footer expected to start playing in the coming weeks, Mitchell’s return to his regular position should do wonders for this team. He stretches the floor well and continues to be one of the best passers on the roster.
We’ve all said it: Mitchell is the perfect addition to this roster. It showed tonight.
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