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Three takeaways from Kentucky’s 95-73 win over No. 8 Miami

Kentucky+guard+Justin+Edwards+%281%29+drives+the+ball+into+the+paint+during+the+No.+12+Kentucky+vs.+No.+8+Miami+mens+basketball+game+on+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+28%2C+2023%2C+at+Rupp+Arena+in+Lexington%2C+Kentucky.+Kentucky+won+95-73.+Photo+by+Travis+Fannon+%7C+Staff
Kentucky guard Justin Edwards (1) drives the ball into the paint during the No. 12 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Miami mens basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 95-73. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

It was only competitive for a half as Kentucky men’s basketball throttled No. 8 Miami 95-73 inside Rupp Arena on Tuesday night in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.

With that in mind, here are three takeaways from the Wildcats’ beatdown against the Hurricanes:

Reed Sheppard might be the best player on this team and in the nation

This might be an overreaction but many will say otherwise, especially after the performance he had on Tuesday night. Once again, one of Kentucky’s own was the best player on the court.

The London, Ky, native, coming into this season, might not have been the biggest name fans had their eyes out for, but Sheppard again showed that he needs on the court and makes this team better each time he checks into the game.

He scored 21 points, including 13 in the second half, finishing the game 5-9 from beyond the arc and 8-3 overall. He also had five rebounds, four assists and three steals in 30 minutes, filling a void after starting point guard D.J. Wagner left late in the first half with an ankle injury.

Simply put, with another eye-catching performance from Sheppard, the conversation for the North Laurel product’s name to be thrown into the National Player of the Year conversation might just start happening if it hasn’t already.

This team again showed much depth it possesses

Now Sheppard wasn’t the only Wildcat to impress as Antonio Reeves finished with 18 points, going 7-12 from the field. Tre Mitchell also had another good outing with 14 points and seven assists,
again filling in for the big men playing at the center and power forward spots.

Rob Dillingham contributed heavily with his 12 points and so did Justin Edwards, who, again, showed
flashes of how great he can be.

Adou Thiero was also somewhat of an unsung hero Tuesday night as he finished with nine points, six rebounds and three assists.

There also needs to be a quick shoutout to Jordan Burks, who came off the bench showing that he is anything but a liability for this team as he finished with five points and an assist.

This might be the best Kentucky team in awhile

This Kentucky squad once again showed that not only is this a good team, but this is a great team that has fun while scoring 90+ on a squad that just came off a Final Four appearance.

Honestly, this feels like some of the teams from the early 2010s that had its quick flashes that can overwhelm its opponents, such was the case with a 41-18 run against the Hurricanes on Tuesday
night.

It’s been a few years since Kentucky welcomed a top 10 opponent into Rupp Arena and brought the house down with its performance, but the Cats did just that against Miami as it truly felt like a
flashback to the early years of John Calipari watching Kentucky dismantling a quality opponent.

It is really interesting to see how, in an era that is so transfer oriented, it seems that Calipari has pushed back against the trend that is seen nowadays in college basketball and has
gone back to what he knows best: getting the youngest and most talented personnel, while also staying in touch with the times with great veteran play that, so far this year, has paid off.

This squad’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s and some Kentucky fans might start making trip plans for late March and early April.

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Ali Cetinok, Assistant Sports Editor

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