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Kentucky Kernel

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At the buzzer: No. 16 Kentucky men’s basketball starts season 1-0, defeats New Mexico State 86-46

Samuel Colmar
Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard (15) dunks the basketball during the No. 16 Kentucky men’s basketball game vs. New Mexico State inside Rupp Arena on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

No. 16 Kentucky men’s basketball defeated New Mexico State 86-46 in the team’s season opener inside Rupp Arena on Monday to begin the season 1-0.

The Wildcats entered the contest as an almost entirely new team compared to the 2022-23 squad that earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament before falling in the second round against Kansas State.

With tipoff not ensuing until 8 p.m. ET, fans in attendance eagerly awaited the non-exhibition debut of the Cats, led by head coach John Calipari.

The Wildcats kicked off the contest with a starting lineup consisting of freshmen D.J. Wagner and Justin Edwards, veteran transfer Tre Mitchell and returning players Adou Thiero and Antonio Reeves.

The Cats won the opening tipoff and wasted little time scoring the first points of the game on a put-back by Thiero on a miss by Wagner.

While the Aggies seemed to drain 3-pointers early, it was the Cats who led at the first break.

The Aggies refused to go away early in the contest, only trailing by five after 10 minutes of play.

As halftime drew near, the Aggies struggled immensely from the floor but were hardly punished for it, with the home team struggling to find consistency as well.

Kentucky attempted to pull away right before the break, but a last minute 3-pointer by NMSU’s Jaylin Jackson-Posey saw the Cats enter the break leading by single digits with the score at 37-29.

Luckily for the home fans in attendance the Wildcats came out of the break motivated, connecting on four of its five attempts from the field to take a double-digit lead.

Unfortunately for the visiting Aggies, where Kentucky’s struggles seemed to somewhat dissipate at the half, New Mexico State’s did not, with continued offensive offensive struggles allowing the Cats to further widen the gap.

Kentucky would continue rolling and, despite the Aggies seemingly beginning to click on the court by making three consecutive baskets, would boast their largest lead of the night up to that point with just over seven minutes left to play.

Seeing the Aggies rattled, Kentucky continued applying the pressure, extending that lead to 28 points by five-minute mark.

Not even a New Mexico State timeout could stop Kentucky by that point, with the lead only seemingly to grow as the night progressed.

Try as they might, the Aggies were never able to stop the bleeding, allowing Kentucky to coast to a dominant opening-day victory in lopsided fashion.

With the win the Wildcats will return to action on Friday, Nov. 10, against Texas A&M Commerce inside Rupp Arena. Tipoff against the Lions is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and will air live on the SEC Network+.

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About the Contributors
Cole Parke, Sports Editor
Samuel Colmar, Assistant Photo Editor

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