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Kentucky Defeats Saint Joseph’s in Overtime

The 16th ranked University of Kentucky faced a tough challenge from Saint Joseph’s University and came away with a 96-88 overtime victory. The Wildcats overcame a slow start, multiple inconsistencies and five minutes of overtime to pull out the win.

Trey Mitchell played a key role in Kentucky’s victory, hitting back-to-back three-pointers early in overtime to help the Wildcats take an 83-79 lead, and DJ Wagner hit the tying layup with just over a minute left in the game to give UK an 87-81 lead. Saint Joseph’s cut Kentucky’s lead to three in the final minute, but their efforts were ultimately undone.

The second half of the game was played as if the game was on the line. Cameron Brown hit a three-pointer with 44 seconds left in the game to give the Hawks a 76-75 lead. Mitchell’s dunk with 29 seconds left gave Kentucky a 77-76 lead, but Mitchell was forced to foul Saint Joseph’s centre Christer Essandoko with 14 seconds left to prevent him from scoring an easy layup. Essandoko hit the first free throw, but missed the second. DJ Wagner then missed a mid-range jumper at the other end to send the game into overtime tied at 77.

Kentucky Defeats Saint Joseph’s in Overtime

Kentucky never took a double-digit lead in the game. Mitchell again impacted the game in a variety of ways, finishing with 22 points, six rebounds, four assists and four caps. Wagner played well, especially in the second half and overtime, with a career-high 21 points and six assists. He was 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Antonio Reeves celebrated his 23rd birthday with 20 points. He also grabbed five rebounds, the fourth straight game the fifth-year guard has grabbed at least five rebounds.

Rob Dillingham (13 points) and Edwards (12 points) also scored in double figures, while Reid Shepherd contributed four assists and five steals in 25 minutes off the bench. Three days after scoring 25 points in a 101-67 blowout win over Stonehill College (PA), he did not score and attempted just one shot (missed a three-pointer).

Against the Eagles, the ‘Cats had another strong showing from the three-point line, hitting 12-of-25 three-pointers. In Friday’s win over Stonehill, UK made 17-of-32 three-pointers, the most three-pointers made in John Calipari’s 14-plus seasons at the helm of the Wildcats.

Eric Reynolds II scored 28 points and made 6 of 12 3-pointers to lead Saint Joseph’s, which made 15 total 3-pointers.

Kentucky (4-1) got off to another slow start against the Hawks, who opened the game with 3-of-5 shooting to jump out to a 7-2 lead, but the Wildcats dropped five of their first six shots. UK did not take its first lead until Dillingham hit a three-pointer off an offensive rebound with 10:44 left in the first half. Kentucky led by as many as eight points after halftime, but the Hawks tied the game in the final minute before halftime and Kentucky led just 41-38 at halftime.

Saint Joseph’s enters the game with a 3-1 record after an unexpected 57-54 loss to Texas A&M-Commerce on Friday night. The Hawks, ranked No. 123 by KenPom on the night, had UK’s best game outside of a loss to top-ranked Kansas and had a sizeable lead. The Cats’ other three opponents are ranked No. 212, No. 289 and No. 352 in the KenPom ratings, with Kentucky winning by an average of 31.3 points. UK led Saint Joseph’s by 15 points prior to Monday night’s tip-off.

Kentucky will host Marshall on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the first meeting between the two schools in 11 years. Kentucky is 12-0 against Marshall and has never been separated from Marshall by more than 13 points in any of those games. Marshall is 2-2 after Monday’s 80-69 win over Florida International and is ranked No. 192 in the KenPom rankings. Coach Dan D’Antoni.

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