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At the buzzer: No. 12 Kentucky men’s basketball suffers shock 80-73 defeat against UNC Wilmington

Samuel Colmar
Kentucky head coach John Calipari argues with a referee during the Kentucky vs. North Carolina Wilmington men’s basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

No. 12 Kentucky men’s basketball (6-2) suffered a shocking 80-73 defeat at the hands of UNC Wilmington (6-2) inside Rupp Arena on Saturday.

The game saw the long-awaited Kentucky debut of big man Aaron Bradshaw, who suffered a foot injury during the offseason, though it wasn’t enough to stave off the upset.

The Wildcats entered the game on the back of a statement 95-73 win over No. 8 Miami in the ACC/SEC Challenge on Tuesday.

Kicking things off with a starting lineup of Justin Edwards, Adou Thiero, Antonio Reeves, Reed Sheppard — who replaced an injured D.J. Wagner as starter — and Tre Mitchell, the Wildcats looked the get ahead early.

Kentucky got in an early hole, trailing 13-4 after five minutes, but the home fans were sent into a frenzy when Bradshaw checked in, formally making his Kentucky debut.

Unfortunately for the Cats, things would not immediately get better with the insertion of the big man.

Things would somehow get even worse from there.

Kentucky would get back within single digits, but still entered the halftime break trailing by eight points with the score at 41-33.

It wouldn’t be until nearly five minutes into the second half when the Cats would finally lead, with a Sheppard 3-pointer putting the home side ahead 48-46.

Four minutes later and the score remained much the same, with the Cats leading 55-52 by the time Reeves picked up his fourth foul.

The lead would not last, however, as the visiting Seahawks quickly regained it.

With five minutes left to play Kentucky continued to trail with the score at 64-62.

The problem would only be made worse when Reeves fouled out of the game with just under three minutes to play. The foul sent the Seahawks to the line where they extended their lead to six points.

Try as it might, Kentucky simply didn’t have enough left in the tank to pull off the comeback, suffering its second defeat of the year.

The Wildcats will return to action on Saturday, Dec. 9, when they travel to Philadelphia to take on UPenn in the Wells Fargo Center. Tip-off against the Quakers is scheduled for noon ET and will air live on ESPN2.

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

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