Men's Basketball
Reed Sheppard Leads No. 12 Kentucky Past Eighth-Ranked Miami

Reed Sheppard Leads No. 12 Kentucky Past Eighth-Ranked Miami

Kentucky freshman Reed Sheppard has his first opportunity to play on a really big stage at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night as the Cats hosted eighth-ranked Miami. And Sheppard made the most of his chance to make a big impression.

Sheppard made eight of 13 from the field, including five of nine from behind the arc, on his way to 21 points as the Cats topped the ‘Canes 95-73. Sheppard added five rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Cats.

UK head coach John Calipari gives Sheppard a lot of credit for his hard work that has helped him continue to improve.

“He was never a knock-down shooter,” Calipari said. “You know what he’s done, he lives in that gym. He works and he’s made himself, kind of like Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) and some of these other kids that I’ve had, they build their own confidence.”

Calipari also knows that Sheppard’s heredity is playing a role in how good he has been early this season. But it may not be what most UK fans are thinking.

“But I always saw his ability to have a feel for passing. His hands, and I’m not joking when I say this, that’s (Sheppard’s mother) Stacey’s,” Calipari said. “That’s who that is. Jeff (Sheppard, Reed’s father) wasn’t that way. Stacey was that way. And you just seem him get his hands on balls.”

Sheppard was not alone as the Cats handled the ‘Canes. Antonio Reeves had 18 points, while Tre Mitchell added 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Rob Dillingham had 12 points and a career-high nine assists, while Justin Edwards had 11 points.

Kentucky closed the half on an 8-0 run to turn a three-point deficit into a 42-37 halftime advantage. And Sheppard was right in the middle of making it happen. After the Cats took a 38-37 lead on an Edwards dunk, Sheppard blocked a shot by Miami’s Nijel Pack, got the rebound and hit a sprinting Reeves for a layup, extending the lead to three.

After Miami failed to score on its final possession of the half, the Cats ran the clock down and Sheppard assisted on a Tre Mitchell basket in the lane, giving UK a five-point lead at the break.

For those into the plus/minus statistic, Sheppard was an amazing plus-18 in the first half.

The UK streak continued early in the second half, and Sheppard was again in the middle of the action. He assisted on a Reeves layup to extend the lead to seven. Then, with the Cats leading by 10, Sheppard broke ahead of the pack and made a fast break layup, giving UK a 51-39 lead and forcing a Miami timeout.

Sheppard put the finishing touches on a 13-2 UK run with a three from the right wing, extending the Kentucky lead to 57-41.

Kentucky would extend the lead to as many as 29 points, 91-62, before settling for the 22-point victory.

The Cats return to action on Saturday, facing UNC-Wilmington at Rupp Arena.

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