Men's Basketball
Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Marshall

Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Marshall

After surviving a serious challenge from Saint Joseph’s on Monday night, No. 16 Kentucky returns to the court on Friday night, facing Marshall at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky needed overtime to take down Saint Joseph’s on Monday. Tre Mitchell and D.J. Wagner each scored 22 points, with Mitchell hitting a pair of crucial three-point shots in overtime. Antonio Reeves scored 20 points, with Rob Dillingham scoring 13 and Justin Edwards adding 12.

The Cats are now 4-1 on the season, with the only blemish being a close loss to top-ranked Kansas in Chicago. The Cats have been shooting, and making, a lot of three-point shots this season. UK has made double figure threes in its last three games. Forward Justin Edwards said that UK head coach John Calipari encourages the Cats to shoot open shots.

“He’s on us about shooting open shots and making them,” Edwards said. “He says if you’re open, shoot it or I’ll take you out.”

One thing that the Cats are focused on is rebounding. UK continues to be without its three seven footers, Aaron Bradshaw, Zvonimir Ivisic and Ugonna Onyenso, so rebounding needs to be a team effort for Kentucky.

“Rebounding. When we rebound at a high clip, it’s harder for teams to guard us,” Edwards said. “I feel like that’s something we have to get better at.”

Marshall is 2-3 this season, having lost two of three games in the Cayman Island Classic earlier this week. Kevon Voyles leads the Herd, averaging 15.8 points per game, while Nate Martin averages 13.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Friday’s game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. ET and it can be seen on the SEC Network.

Last Time Out: Saint Joseph’s Recap

While missing all three of its big men early in the season, Kentucky figured to be a perimeter-oriented team. That trend continued on Monday night as the Cats topped Saint Joseph’s 96-88 in overtime in the Wildcat Challenge presented by Kentucky Tourism.

The 3-point shot was crucial to the Cats again on Monday night. Kentucky took control of the game in the extra stanza on back-toback threes from Tre Mitchell. The Cats would never trail in overtime on their way to the eight-point victory. UK head coach John Calipari loved that Mitchell embraced the opportunity to make such big plays in overtime.

“Tre made those shots. What I call those are ‘the moment’,” Calipari said. “There was that play, the moment, when one team is playing with house money and we’re playing with – we’ve got to win. And it never phased him.”

Mitchell and D.J. Wagner would lead the Cats with 22 points apiece. Wagner added a season-high six assists. Antonio Reeves scored 20 points and Rob Dillingham had 13 in the win. Justin Edwards gave the Cats a fifth player in double figures with 13 points. Edwards added six assists and five rebounds. Calipari singled out both Wagner and Edwards in the postgame.

“D.J. played better, you’re starting to see who he is. Justin played better, more confidence, more relaxed player.”

Kentucky (4-1) hit 12 of 25 (48 percent) from behind the arc in the game, continuing a trend of hot outside shooting. The Cats have now hit at least 10 3-point baskets in each of their last three games.

While most of the Cats struggled to find the range in the first half of Monday’s game, both Reeves and Dillingham kept Kentucky in a game that was closer than expected. Both guards went four of six from the floor in the first half while the rest of the Kentucky team combined to go six of 17. It all added up to a 41-38 lead for the Cats at the break.

Running, Gunning and Sharing … Oh, My!

To say that Kentucky is clicking offensively through the first five games of the season would be an understatement.

• The Cats have scored at least 81 points in each of their first five games for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
• UK is averaging 89.6 points per game for the season. That ranks in the top 25 in the country.
• They’re playing at a fast pace, averaging just 14.9 seconds per possession which ranks 21st in the country.
• UK is logging 20.0 fast-break points per game. That mark is the best in the Southeastern Conference and the 15th best in the nation.
• Kentucky has made at least 12 3-pointers in three straight games (Kansas, Stonehill, Saint Joseph’s) for the first time since March 11-13, 1994 at the SEC Tournament.
• The Wildcats are averaging 11.6 made 3s per game. That is the best in the SEC and ranks sixth nationally.
• UK has six players averaging double-figure points.
• The Wildcats lead the SEC and rank fourth nationally with a 2.32 assist-to-turnover ratio. Tre Mitchell tops the league and is in the top 10 nationally with an 8.50 assist-to-turnover ratio.
• Kentucky is dishing out 18.6 assists per game. Five players have 11 or more assists (2.2 per game) thus far.
• Per KenPom, UK’s offensive efficiency ranks 10th through games on Nov. 20

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