Cats roll past North Florida 96-56


Jackson Dunavant

Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) passes the ball during the Kentucky vs. North Florida mens basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 96-56. Photo by Jackson Dunavant | Staff

Ali Cetinok, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 15 Kentucky earned a convincing 96-56 bounce-back win over North Florida at Rupp Arena on Wednesday after a disappointing loss to Gonzaga last week.

Much like in its last outing, Kentucky’s offense was slow to start but was able to find a rhythm offensively, something it was unable to ever accomplish in Spokane.

After struggling to get any shots to fall last week, Kentucky’s shooters had a point to prove against the Ospreys shooting 47% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc.

Antonio Reeves and Jacob Toppin both topped all scorers with 20 each, with Reeves shooting 7-12 from the field with eight threes, four of which counted.

Toppin went 7-15 from the field and made five out of a possible eight at the free-throw line.

“After a loss we always want to bounce back, and I think we did a good job of that,” Toppin said. “We still haven’t been good at executing plays, so we have to get better at that. Defensively, we had some breakdowns, but I think we were good. Offensively, we have to play like that every game. We have to be able to spread the floor with pace, share the ball, and just make open shots. We’ll just get better as the season goes.”

Reeves also was determined to come back after a disappointing loss and get back on the right foot, not letting the past determine how he plays.

“I try not to think about it,” he said. “Just, get into practice, try to take my mind off that loss. It’s pretty hard sometimes, coming off a loss like that, but you’re a basketball player, things happen, and you lose sometimes. The rim got bigger for me. I just kept shooting the ball. There were a couple of times I missed. Shooters shoot, so I definitely have that mentality.”

The Cats also shared the ball significantly more after struggling to do so against Gonzaga with Cason Wallace finishing with six assists and Oscar Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler both having five assists each.

Tshiebwe also notched 16 points to ensure the teams’ Thanksgiving plans were not spoiled.

“I love turkey. We are going to have a good time. All the team will be together at coach’s house and then after that we will give back to others,” Tshiebwe said. “I will also have some mashed potatoes for sure, but whatever they have I will go for.” 

Kentucky returns to action on Monday, Nov. 28, when it hosts Bellarmine. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. EST and can be seen live on the SEC Network+.