LEXINGTON, Ky. — Five things you need to know from No. 16 Kentucky’s 96-88 overtime win over Saint Joseph’s in men’s NCAA college basketball at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center:
1. Tre Mitchell saves UK’s bacon. With UK teetering on the verge of a home loss to a non-power conference foe, the transfer from West Virginia stepped up big.
With the game tied at 77 in overtime, Mitchell drained a three from the top after a nifty feed from Rob Dillingham with 3:57 left to put UK up 80-77.
After Lynn Greer scored on a driving layup at 3:31, Mitchell calmly arced in another trey, this one with 3:13 left in the extra period to put UK ahead 83-79.
The 6-foot-9, 231-pound super-senior’s work was not done. With UK clinging to an 87-84 lead with 57.6 seconds left in the OT, Mitchell did what several of his younger teammates had failed to do in the OT: He went to the foul line and cashed two free throws.
For the game, Mitchell finished with 22 points, six rebounds, four assists, four blocked shots, a steal — and two cold-blooded three-pointers when UK desperately needed them.
Given the injures that have hollowed out the Kentucky front line early this season, where would the Wildcats be if Mitchell had not fallen in their lap due to Bob Huggins’ off-the-court issues at West Virginia?
2. Edwards and Wagner. The two most-hyped players among Kentucky’s No. 1-rated 2023 recruiting class, D.J. Wagner and Justin Edwards have gotten off to slower starts in their college careers than have classmates Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham.
Against Saint Joseph’s, there were positive signs from both players.
Wagner, the No. 6-rated prospect in the 2023 Rivals 150, entered play Monday averaging 9.3 points but making only 31.9% of his shots, 23.5% on treys.