Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Penn
Last Saturday, Kentucky freshman big man Aaron Bradshaw made his season debut. Unfortunately for Bradshaw and the Cats, it came in a loss to UNC-Wilmington at Rupp Arena.
While the result was less than ideal, Bradshaw and his team hope to learn from the mistakes they made in the setback.
“We’ve got to go out and practice,” Bradshaw said. “If something doesn’t go right, we’ve got to go to practice and correct it. Search for a different outcome, a different way we could have been better.”
Bradshaw thinks it’s important for the Cats to use Saturday’s loss as a lesson.
“You always learn from a loss,” Bradshaw said. “That’s one thing you can always benefit from, learning from a loss. We were learning what we have to do to get how we usually are.”
Specifically, Bradshaw mentioned a couple of items.
“Just talking and communicating,” Bradshaw said. “Going back to what we were doing. Passing the ball, playing basketball and being the team that (we were) previous.”
Kentucky hopes to take those learned lessons into Saturday’s game against Penn in Philadelphia. The Quakers are 6-4 on the season, including an upset over nationally-ranked Villanova in November.
The Cats are 6-2 on the season after falling to UNCW last Saturday. Kentucky’s only other loss came to Kansas, who was the top-ranked team in the country at the time.
Tipoff from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia is at noon ET and the game can be seen on ESPN2.
Last Time Out: UNC Wilmington Recap
Freshman Reed Sheppard scored 25 points but No. 12 Kentucky lost to UNC-Wilmington 80-73 on Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena.
Sheppard made 9 of 17 from the field, including 3 of 6 from behind the arc, and 4 of 4 at the free throw line for his 25 points. The London, Kentucky native added nine rebounds , six assists and two steals.
Antonio Reeves had 14 points before fouling out. Justin Edwards and Tre Mitchell each had 11 points and six rebounds for the Cats, who made just five of 17 (29.4 percent) from behind the arc for the game.
UNC Wilmington made 11 of 31 (35.5 percent) from behind the arc and 28 of 65 (43.1 percent) of its shots overall.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari saw a different UK team on Saturday than he had seen previously this season.
“There are games where you’re not going to make shots,” Calipari said. “You’ve got to rebound and defend. I understand our starting point guard was out. But we didn’t play the same way. We held the ball, everybody’s trying to make a play.”
Specifically, the UK head coach did not like his team’s defensive execution.
“We couldn’t stay in front of the ball,” Calipari said. “We’ve got time in between games and we’ve got to work on the importance of staying in front of your man and making him score through your chest. You keep opening up the hips and they’re shooting layups. We’ve got stuff to learn. You win and you learn. You better guard the ball better.”
However, Calipari did not take anything away from UNC Wilmington.
“They deserved to win the game. They did,” Calipari said. “I would have liked to have stolen it from them but they deserved to win it. They played well, they shot well.”
Bradshaw Makes Debut
Kentucky freshman forward Aaron Bradshaw made his collegiate debut against UNC Wilmington on Dec. 2. Bradshaw suffered a foot injury during the spring at the McDonald’s All American Game.
Bradshaw, one of the nation’s best freshmen, was ranked as high as No. 2 overall by both Rivals and 247Sports. He averaged 12.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game as a senior at Camden High School a season ago.
Against UNC Wilmington, Bradshaw played 12 minutes and scored three points, had two boards and earned a block.