The Cats exploded in the second half for a monster blowout of the No. 8 ranked Hurricanes.
This was a fun back-and-forth affair from the start. The Cats got up by double digits early, but the Hurricanes were unfazed by the crazy Rupp Arena crowd as a 13-0 run gave Miami a 29-23 lead. Kentucky answered, though, as they went on their own little 8-0 run to take a 42-37 lead into the half.
After the break, the young guns came out firing to jump out to a 12-point lead just three minutes into the second half. That lead quickly ballooned to 20+ points and eventually 29 points, as Kentucky just couldn’t be stopped. There was nothing Miami could do because to put it simply. This team is awesome.
What a win!
Next up, the Cats will take on the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks on Saturday night in Lexington.
Here are three things to know from one of the more fun Kentucky Basketball wins in recent memory.
Sheppard is the Cats’ best player
I mean, this kid is incredible, isn’t he? There were questions about his size and quickness at the next level, but there’s no question about it—Reed Sheppard is Kentucky’s best player.
The Kentucky narrative and legacy just does everything. He shares the ball extremely well. He shoots the ball incredibly well. And his activeness on the defensive end allows him to consistently steal the ball and provide the occasional blocked shot, too.
DJ Wagner had been playing better in the last couple of games, but an injury in the first half forced John Calipari to play Sheppard big minutes and he continued to excel. In the first half alone, he had eight points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals, and blocked a three-point shot.
In the second half, Sheppard helped Kentucky explode to a 29-point lead. I’m not sure what Sheppard’s pro prospects look like, but goodness, I don’t know how he lasts more than one season in college because he’s just that good.
Reeves lights it up
Antonio Reeves has been a bit of an enigma in his time at Kentucky. He’s an elite shooter, but he’s been consistently inconsistent and has seemed to disappear in big games. That doesn’t appear to be the case this season, and it wasn’t the case in this one.
Reeves has been much more consistent this season despite a high-scoring, poor shooting performance against the Kansas Jayhawks. In this one, he didn’t disappear in the big game, as he took exactly what the defense gave him on his way to an impressive showing.
Reeves is shooting the ball as well as ever, but he’s taken it upon himself to do so much more. He drives the ball more, and he’s so much more active on the glass. The freshmen made their case to Reeves in the offseason in the hopes of him coming back as the missing piece, and boy, am I glad they did.
Mitchell and Thiero do a little bit of everything
Tre Mitchell and Adou Thiero are the perfect complements to Kentucky’s star-studded backcourt.
We’ve talked at length about how Mitchell was the perfect fit for this team, but it can’t be overstated. His ability to stretch the floor has made it impossible to stop Kentucky’s guards from getting into the lane.
While his shooting has been his strong suit, his passing has made him an irreplaceable piece on this team. Couple that with his toughness, veteran leadership, and shifty post maneuvering, and it’s suddenly easy to see how he does a little bit of everything.
On the other hand, Thiero wasn’t an offseason addition, like Mitchell, but he was an offseason revelation with his two-inch growth spurt to go along with gaining thirty pounds. He went from an awkward, three-star point guard to a monster that can bang with the bigs down low.
His experience playing guard in high school, and at times last season, has allowed him to see the floor very well and hit open teammates. He attacks the rim and the glass fiercely, and I will readily admit I wouldn’t ever want to be in his way. Again, he does the little things for this team.
These two guys aren’t Kentucky’s best players, but they mesh so well with the rest of this roster that they are perfect fits for this team.
Kentucky Basketball is back, and they’ve put the entire country on notice.