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Kentucky Kernel

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Kentucky Kernel

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At the buzzer: No. 16 Kentucky men’s basketball defeats Texas A&M-Commerce 81-61

No. 16 Kentucky men’s basketball (2-0) defeated Texas A&M-Commerce 81-61 inside Rupp Arena on Friday, finishing out the first week of play undefeated.

The Wildcats entered the matchup after winning their season opener against New Mexico State 86-46 on Monday. The game marked the first time since January that five different Wildcats had recorded double-digit point totals.

Before long it was time to announce the starting lineups, with the Cats rolling out the usual suspects, Justin Edwards, D.J. Wagner, Antonio Reeves and Tre Mitchell, with Rob Dillingham entering the lineup in place of Adou Thiero, who appeared to hit his head in the Cats’ season opener.

With nothing left but to play, the Lions won the opening tipoff and put up the first points of the night.

The opening layup wouldn’t be the only points the Lions got early, though.

The drought would be short-lived, however, as Mitchell quickly scored the first Kentucky points outside of the timeout.

Despite the Cats getting on the board, the Lions refused to back down, eventually holding a double-digit lead over the home Wildcats.

While the Lions managed to boast a 13-point lead at their peak, the Cats came thundering back.

Things remained close as halftime drew near, but the Cats refused to surrender their lead.

While the Lions fought to end Kentucky’s momentum, they themselves went cold from the floor, allowing Kentucky to enter the halftime break with an eight-point lead.

While the Lions hung around early in the second half, Kentucky quickly began creating separation, leading by 13 points with 15 minutes left to play.

While not as blatant as the Cats’ first game against New Mexico State, the lead steadily began to grow as the seconds ticked away in the second quarter.

This changed when, following the timeout, the lead became stagnant for much of the remainder of the game, standing at 14 points with just over six minutes to play.

While the Cats struggled to extend the lead, with the Lions even cutting into it on multiple occasions, Kentucky, for the second consecutive game, recorded five scorers with double-digit point totals.

In what became a war of attrition, the Cats finally began to pull away for a final time after wearing down the Lions, with a 3-pointer by Sheppard giving the Cats a 19-point advantage before another deep ball by Reeves made it 20 after a Lion basket.

In the end, the Lions ran out of gas in the tank as the Cats continued matching everything they had left, giving Kentucky the strong victory to improve to 2-0 ahead of one of, if not the biggest tests it’ll have all season.

Kentucky will return to action in the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 14, against No. 1 Kansas from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Tipoff against the Jayhawks is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. and will air live on ESPN.

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Cole Parke, Sports Editor

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