Reed Sheppard, No. 12 Kentucky Overwhelm No. 8 Miami 95-73 In Acc/Sec Challenge

Kentucky head coach John Calipari, right instructs Reed Sheppard (15) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Miami in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. Kentucky won 95-73. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
Kentucky head coach John Calipari, right instructs Reed Sheppard (15) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Miami in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. Kentucky won 95-73. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Reed Sheppard scored 21 points, including 13 during a second half in which Kentucky shot 67%, and Antonio Reeves added 18 to propel 12th-ranked Wildcats to a 95-73 blowout of No. 8 Miami on Tuesday night in the ACC/SEC Challenge.

Sheppard came off the bench, drained a 3 for his first basket and finished 5 of 9 from long range and 8 of 13 overall. The freshman 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 and did not return.

“I just go out and try and do what I need to do, whatever I can to help my team win and make the right play," Sheppard said. "With these dudes around me, it’s really, really easy doing that. We were hitting shots left and right and everyone was moving the ball, passing and having fun.”

Reeves was 7 of 12 from the field. Tre Mitchell had 14 points and seven assists, Rob Dillingham scored 14 points and Justin Edwards had 11 points for Kentucky (6-1).

Norchad Omier scored 20 points and Wooga Poplar had 19 for the Hurricanes (5-1), who shot 44.1% from the field but were no match for Kentucky’s nearly flawless offensive performance.

“I said the first team to 80 would win, but we didn’t score,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We played totally out of character on offense and that impacted our defense, which, unfortunately, is a weakness of ours.”

The Wildcats made their final three shots to lead 42-37 at halftime before sinking their first six of the second half and 10 of 11 overall for a 67-43 advantage with 14:15 remaining. Kentucky ended up converting 20 of 30 after halftime and 37 of 62 overall (59.7%) to dominate a matchup between two of the country's highest-scoring teams.

Kentucky led by as much as 29 points and finished 9 of 21 (42.9%) from 3-point range.

UNSELFISH PLAY

Kentucky had 26 assists, the fourth consecutive game it has dished out 24 or more. The Wildcats entered the game tied for seventh with 20 assists per contest, but posted this total against by far their strongest opponent since losing to then-No. 1 Kansas. Kentucky had 14 assists in that game.

BIG PICTURE

Miami entered the game ranked 12th in scoring at 89 points per game and for a while seemed intent on setting the pace. The Hurricanes built a 29-23 lead with an 18-2 run, but it didn't last.

Kentucky picked up where it left off after scoring 118 points against Marshall, a John Calipari-era record. The Wildcats outscored Miami 38-23 in the paint and 23-7 on the fast break, hitting a few transition 3s in the process. They were outrebounded again (35-29), but scored 16 points off 15 turnovers while committing just eight.

“Defensively, we were saying make the 3 hard, make them take tough 2s,” Calipari said. “They can beat you with 3s. And they also beat you with the turnover because they unbelievably finish at the rim. And we just didn’t turn it over that much.”

UP NEXT

Miami hosts Notre Dame on Saturday in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

Kentucky hosts UNC Wilmington on Saturday.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball