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Kentucky Wins First Game of 2023-24 Season

Photo by: Brendon Miller - Bluegrass Sports Nation

Lexington, Ky – November 6, 2023 – Michael Willis

The Wildcats started the season off on a good note defeating the New Mexico State Aggies 86 to 46. The UK coaches and players went into the game unsure of what to expect from the Aggies because in the off season the Aggies added a completely new roster coaching staff. Despite the inability to prepare for New Mexico State, John Calipari was able to put together a game plan that worked.

The Aggies jumped out to an early 6 to 2 lead after hitting a pair of three pointers to start the game. The Cats overtook NMST at the 15:51 mark in the first half and never looked back. Kentucky only led by 8 at the end of the first, but the hustle on the court kept the fans cheering the entire half. 

Many of the cheers were for Reed Sheppard who made the most of his 11 minutes in the first half. Sheppard tied Antonio Reeves for the scoring lead with 8 points. He also gained 3 rebounds and 2 steals. Adou Thiero was the most active rebounder in the first half for the Cats with 6. As a team the Cats only had one turnover while making the Aggies turn the ball over 6 times.

The Wildcats opened the second half on a 17 to 6 run that put the Aggies down 19 with 11:41 left in the game. Kentucky continued their great defense until the end of the game and forced New Mexico to turn the ball over 18 times. The Cats held the Aggies to only 17 second half points and ended the game with a 17-point run of their own. As a team Kentucky accumulated 13 steals.

In his post-game press conference John Calipari attributed the good game to having five players on the court that can handle and pass the basketball. Those attributes gained the Cats 17 assists and only 6 turnovers. Despite not having a traditional big man, the Wildcats out rebounded the Aggies 43 to 33 that led to 13 second chance points for the Cats.

Five different Kentucky players scored in double figures in tonight’s game, but Rob Dillingham scored the most with 17. Dillingham also had 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers. Tre Mitchell was only a point and a rebound away from a double-double scoring 9 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Reed Sheppard ended the night with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.

Kentucky will look to gain their second win of the season against Texas A&M Commerce on Friday night at 7 pm. 

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