Five things you need to know from No. 12 Kentucky’s dominant 95-73 win over No. 8 Miami

Five things you need to know from No. 12 Kentucky’s 95-73 win over No. 8 Miami in the men’s NCAA college basketball ACC/SEC Challenge at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center:

1. It is Reed Sheppard’s world. On the same day that NBA draft analysts Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Wood listed Sheppard first on their list of “surprising freshmen and prospects on the rise,” the former North Laurel High School star again wowed on a very big stage.

Forced by a UK injury (see below) to play a career-high 30 minutes, the 6-foot-3, 187-pound Sheppard was the best player in a game matching two teams ranked in the top 12 in the country.

Sheppard led Kentucky with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, 5-of-9 on 3-pointers. Again showing off his all-around game, Sheppard also had five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a memorable block of a Miami 3-point shot.

In the plus/minus category, Sheppard was once again Kentucky’s run-away leader. The Wildcats were plus-35 with Sheppard on the court.

How UK’s Jeff Sheppard and Stacey Reed got together. From the Herald-Leader archives.

2. UK super-seniors stand tall. It can be easy to overlook amidst all the attention given John Calipari’s latest lavishly-hyped (and deservedly so) freshman class, but Kentucky veterans Antonio Reeves and Tre Mitchell are playing big for the Wildcats.

In a season in which Reeves added muscle with the intention of showing he is more than a jump shooter, the Chicago product hit Miami with 18 points and five rebounds. It was an efficient 18 points for the 6-6, 195-pound Reeves, as he made 7 of 12 shots.

Mitchell, the 6-9, 231-pound transfer from West Virginia, is essentially playing “point-center” for UK. The Pittsburgh product finished Tuesday night’s game with 14 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two blocks.

3. One down note. Kentucky freshman point guard D.J. Wagner was visibly limping when he got up after being fouled by Miami’s Wooga Poplar with 4:22 left in the first half. After splitting two free throws, the 6-4, 192-pound product of Camden, New Jersey, left the game and did not return.

4. Cats vs. the ranked. With its victory, Kentucky improved to 7-17 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 since the start of the 2020-21 season.

UK is now 3-9 vs. top-10 opponents since the 2020-21 season began.

The No. 8 Hurricanes are the highest-ranked team UK has beaten at Rupp Arena since scoring a 78-70 overtime win over No. 3 Louisville on Dec. 28, 2019.

5. Cats vs. power conference foes. By winning, Kentucky is now 41-35 since the start of the 2020-21 season against teams from college basketball’s six major conferences (the football Power Five and the Big East) plus Gonzaga.

UK is 1-1 against such teams this season.

Kentucky’s Justin Edwards celebrates scoring against Miami during Tuesday’s ACC/SEC Challenge game at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky’s Justin Edwards celebrates scoring against Miami during Tuesday’s ACC/SEC Challenge game at Rupp Arena.

Tracking the ACC/SEC Challenge

The inaugural two-day event matching teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference against foes from the Southeastern Conference features seven games on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kentucky’s win over Miami helped the SEC claim a 4-3 edge after night one of the challenge.

In Tuesday’s early contests, the ACC tallied with two victories: Georgia Tech beat No. 21 Mississippi State 67-59; Syracuse rocked LSU 80-57. The SEC got on the board with South Carolina’s 65-53 win over Notre Dame, followed by Missouri’s 71-64 win at Pittsburgh.

The two later games were split between SEC and ACC, with Mississippi routing North Carolina State 72-52 and Clemson upsetting No. 23 Alabama 83-75 on the Crimson Tide’s home court.

In Wednesday night’s early games, No. 17 North Carolina held off No. 10 Tennessee 100-92 in Chapel Hil; No. 14 Texas A&M lost at Virginia 59-47; and Florida fell at Wake Forest 82-71.

The late games saw host Arkansas upset No. 7 Duke 80-75; Boston College go on the road and rock Vanderbilt 80-62; Georgia won at Florida State 68-66; and Auburn beat Virginia Tech 74-57.

So the initial ACC/SEC Challenge ended in a 7-7 draw.

D.J. Wagner leaves Kentucky basketball’s big win over Miami with an injury

Shot chart from No. 12 Kentucky basketball’s 95-73 ACC/SEC Challenge win over No. 8 Miami

Box score from No. 12 UK basketball’s 95-73 win over No. 8 Miami in the ACC/SEC Challenge

College basketball final: No. 12 Kentucky 95, No. 8 Miami 73

Five things you need to know from No. 12 Kentucky’s dominant 95-73 win over No. 8 Miami

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