November 17, 2023 – Michael Willis
The heavily favorited Wildcats took the floor in Rupp Arena to face the Stonehill Skyhawks in their first ever meeting. It was an easy win for the Cats who bettered the Skyhawks 101 to 67, but it was a near perfect game for Reed Sheppard.
Stonehill jumped out to an 8 to 2 lead to start the game, but the Wildcats rallied fast and with 15:29 left in the half overtook the Skyhawks for good. The Wildcats were on fire scoring 14 points in 2 minutes. The Cats continued to dominate the first half and led at the 58 to 37. Kentucky made 10 of the 16 three-point attempts and shot a total of 67% from the field.
Tre Mitchell took advantage of the midrange jumper during Stonehill’s zone defense to lead the Cats with 13 points at the half. Reed Sheppard shot a perfect 4 for 4 from behind the arc for his 12 points in the first half and had 5 assists and zero turnovers.
The second half started much like the first. Stonehill scored the first 8 points of the second half which prompted a timeout by Coach Calipari. Better defense along with a more focused offense kept the Wildcats in control of the game to bring home the victory.
Reed Sheppard was, undoubtfully, the player of the game. He ended the game with 25 points and was very efficient. In his 26 minutes he made 9 of his 10 field goals. Seven of his field goals were from behind the arc. Sheppard was also very generous with the basketball making 7 assists and only 1 turnover. He had the highest +/- with 42. In his post-game interview Sheppard gave all the credit to his teammates stating, “They were able to break down the zone and get me open shots.”
Kentucky made seventeen three-pointers, which is the most since Calipari has been the head coach. The Wildcats had 26 assists, but made the most turnovers of the season with 14. The Cat’s bench scored 47 points due to Rob Dillingham’s and Reed Sheppard’s outstanding play.
The easy part of the schedule is not in the books. From here on out the games will be more difficult starting Monday night when Saint Joseph’s comes to Lexington to face-off against the Cats in a 7pm tip. Be ready to see tons of three-pointers.