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Mitchell Sparks Kentucky to 96-88 Overtime Win Over Saint Joseph's

Updated: Nov 22, 2023


Graduate student Tre Mitchell is shown here during UK's annual Media Day festivities held on campus in late October. (Photo by Jamie H. Vaught).

By Jamie H. Vaught


Tre Mitchell was the Big Man on Campus Monday night.


The 6-foot-9 graduate student was the one who drilled two consecutive three-pointers -- with a pair of assists from freshman Rob Dillingham -- at the beginning of overtime, sparking Kentucky to a 96-88 overtime victory over Saint Joseph's at Rupp Arena. The win improved UK's record to 4-1, while Saint Joseph's, a preseason contender for the Atlantic 10 Conference championship, dropped to 3-2.


Mitchell, who transferred to Kentucky from West Virginia where he averaged 11.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season, had a season-high 22 points and 6 rebounds, while blocking 4 shots.


In the scoring department, he also had help from freshman guard D.J. Wagner (season-high 22 points, seven of which came in overtime) and senior guard Antonio Reeves (20 points). It is the first time Kentucky had three players score at least 20 points since DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Patrick Patterson did so against Sam Houston State in 2009.


Wagner and Dillingham tied for game-high honors in assists with six.


On his three-point shooting prowess in overtime, Mitchell said, “It’s open so I was letting it go – I know Cal would probably yell at me if I didn’t. ... If they’re going to leave me open, I’m going to shoot it. I don’t think that it necessarily the moment for me because I try to stay present throughout the entire game so regardless of what the outcome or the score is going to be – if I get an open look, I’m going to take it.”


Kentucky coach John Calipari said of Mitchell, "I knew how talented he was. He is a skilled basketball player, shooting 3's, passing balls. He will fight. Missing some free-throws, which are stunning to me because he is a really good free-throw shooter." For the record, Mitchell hit 4 of 6 free throws.


Reed Sheppard dribbles during Kentucky's win over Saint Joseph's Monday night at Rupp Arena. (Photo by Wayne Mason)

Mitchell said the close victory will help the young team down the road. “I think it can instill confidence in our guys – just showing that we’re capable of being in these

moments and we have dudes that are going to answer the call,” he said.


The Wildcats had 12 steals, leading to an 11-6 advantage in points off turnovers and 28-11 in fast-break points. Despite having to play an overtime period, UK had only nine turnovers. Kentucky has had single-digit miscues in four of five games this season and now are averaging just eight turnovers per contest.


Although freshman Reed Sheppard did not score, he had four assists, five steals – most by a Wildcat this season – and led the team with a plus/minus of +16. He has had at least two steals in every game this season. Against Stonehill on Friday, Nov. 17, Sheppard had 25 points, including 7 of 8 three-pointers.


UK continues the five-game homestand Friday against Marshall. Game time is 7 p.m. ET

and it will be televised on the SEC Network.


Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of six books about UK basketball, including recently-published “Forever Crazy About the Cats: An Improbable Journey of a Kentucky Sportswriter Overcoming Adversity." He is the editor and founder of KySportsStyle.com Magazine, and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.

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