Connect with us

Men's Basketball

RECAP: Three Takeaways from Kentucky’s 90-77 win over the Missouri Tigers

Published

on

Rob Dillingham (0) reacts after being fouled during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Rupp Arena.
© Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Missouri Tigers were able to keep it close in the first half as they only trailed 47-42 at the break, Kentucky would eventually break away and win 90-77 to move to 12-2 (2-0 in the SEC) on the season. Oddly enough, this is Kentucky’s first 2-0 start in conference play since the 9-16 COVID season (2020-21).

Here’s how the ‘Cats got the win over the Tigers.

DJ Wagner and Rob Dillingham Make for Dynamic Duo

It wouldn’t be a UK ball game if it weren’t for some of Kentucky’s elite freshmen making a massive impact on the outcome. After all, the one-and-done has worked so well for John Calipari that Coach K had to take a page out of his playbook. There are a plethora of guys who are capable of taking over and leading the Cats to victory. Tonight, those guys were DJ Wagner and Rob Dillingham.

Advertisement

Wagner finished with 16 points on 5-8 shooting while dishing out three assists. For Kentucky, they went through a few stretches when it seemed like there was a lid on the basket. That’s when Wagner took over and did his thing. Time and time again, Calipari has been able to lean on the freshman when Kentucky is in desparation.

As for Dillingham, he finished with a season-high 23 points, going 6-7 (3-3 3PT) from the field. He also finished with two rebounds, assists, and steals respectively. While he did finish with four personal fouls and three turnovers, Dillingham proved his ability to stay resilient on the offensive end of the floor, which is enough to warrant his playing time.

Tre Mitchell Can Do It All, Continues to be a Leader

For the third time in the last four games, Tre Mitchell has recorded a double-double to lead Kentucky to victory. Against Missouri, Mitchell put up 20 points on 6-11 shooting while also grabbing 14 rebounds, which is a season-high for the fifth-year senior.

Mitchell’s versatility on the offensive end of the floor allowed Kentucky’s guards to get open shots and good looks. Which, in turn, resulted in five total players reaching double-digit points. Then, he also recorded three assists and two blocks, making an impact all over the floor.

Advertisement

Against Florida, we saw that Mitchell was the vocal leader of this team, and part of that carried over to Tuesday’s win. If Kentucky is going to make a run in March, then Tre Mitchell will need to continue to assert himself as the alpha dog of this team.

Reed Sheppard Struggles to Get Going Offensively Against Tigers

Now, for the bad stuff.

While Reed Sheppard did finish with a team-high four assists and two steals, he did not have such a great game shooting the ball. The Kentucky freshman scored just three points, shooting just 1-4 from the field.

Despite Sheppard’s underwhelming performance, Kentucky was able to hold Missouri off and come away with the win. The ‘Cats seemingly had a three or four possession lead throughout the whole game, and that was enough for Kentucky to get a share of first place in the SEC. Let’s see if they can hold on to it.

Advertisement

Men's Basketball

Rick Pitino Endorses Mark Pope, “He Will Lead The Kentucky Wildcats To Another Championship”

Published

on

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports/ Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The captain of Rick Pitino’s 1996 “Untouchables”, Mark Pope, is “coming home” to lead the Kentucky Wildcats as the program’s next head coach, officially announced on Friday. While there has been some criticism of the hire, Pitino says he “couldn’t be any prouder to see Mark Pope lead the Kentucky Wildcats.”

While Pope has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game in two appearances, Pitino points out that several top coaches had their trials early in their careers. It took Jay Wright 11 seasons to win his first NCAA Tournament, and Billy Donovan was hired at Florida without an NCAA Tournament appearance. However, he heralds Pope as one of the “premier young coaches” in college basketball.

“Offensively, no one does it better,” Pitino said. “The way his teams move. The way his teams shoot the three. The ball movement. It’s outstanding.”

Advertisement

It’s just the X’s and O’s though, Pitino “guarantees” that Pope loves and understands the program as well as anyone. “I can guarantee to you one thing, that nobody epitomizes the name on the front of the jersey more than Mark Pope.”

“Mark Pope will go on to greatness. You can put it down,” Pitino said. “He will do you proud. “He will lead the Kentucky Wildcats to another championship”

If his endorsement isn’t enough, Rick Pitino says he will “write the check himself” for NIL to help Pope be successful.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Men's Basketball

Mark Pope Releases Statement As He Is Announced As Kentucky Basketball Coach

Published

on

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Per UK Athletics

When his alma mater came calling, Mark Pope knew there was no place like home.

Pope, a captain of the University of Kentucky’s 1996 National Championship team, has returned to Lexington as the 23rd head coach of Kentucky’s storied men’s basketball program, announced Friday.

Advertisement

“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball,” Pope said. “It’s the definition of a blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation every year. Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”

“I’m thankful to Dr. (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach and I can’t wait to do this together!”

Pope is a nine-year head coaching veteran with stops at BYU and Utah Valley, amassing a 187-108 career record. His squads won 20 or more games in six of the last seven seasons and he has made six postseason appearances.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Men's Basketball

REPORT: Mark Pope Set Sign Five-Year Deal to Become Next Kentucky Basketball Coach

Published

on

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky has found their guy. Former Wildcat and NCAA Champion, Mark Pope, is now expected to be named the next Kentucky basketball coach on a five-year contract worth $5.5 million annually, first reported by CBS Sports. For perspective, based on last season’s salaries, that is more than Dan Hurley (UConn), Scott Drew (Baylor), and Nate Oats (Alabama).

Pope comes to Kentucky with nine seasons of head coaching experience, after serving as an assistant for six seasons, from 2009-2015. In 2015, he was hired by Utah Valley where he coached for four seasons. In 2019, Pope was hired at BYU where he has taken them to two NCAA Tournaments, but has been upset by a double-digit seed in both appearances.

Pope has proven himself as a good X-and-O coach in his nine-year career, running one of the most innovative offenses in the country, but recruiting will be a real test as he has never signed a four-star recruit. Who he hires on to his staff and collecting NIL support will be critical.

Advertisement

The move has been met with much fan criticism, as fans have been quick to point out that Pope has never won a conference title or an NCAA Tournament game. However, Mitch Barnhart is confident in the move, with some reporting that he is “excited” with the hire.

Just three days into the coaching search, this is an interesting hire with several big names like Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl potentially available. Barnhart made the decision not to wait for Donovan, who is currently coaching the Chicago Bulls, and Pearl was not considered due to his “baggage”.

A new era of Kentucky basketball has begun.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending