Five things you need to know from Kentucky’s 81-66 win over the Penn Quakers

Five things you need to know from No. 16 Kentucky’s 81-66 win over Pennsylvania in the Malone’s Classic in NCAA men’s college basketball at the Wells Fargo Center (basketball capacity 20,318) in Philadelphia.

1. Happy homecoming. The game in the City of Brotherly Love was a chance for multiple Kentucky players to show their wares in front of friends and family. For the most part, the “Philly Cats” made the most of it.

Playing across the Delaware River from where he starred in high school for Camden (New Jersey) High, Aaron Bradshaw wowed. The 7-foot-1, 226-pound freshman had his first career double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) in what was only his second college game since returning from a foot injury.

Bradshaw flashed the versatility that so wowed the recruiting analysts. The big man hit a 3-pointer, gave Kentucky some much-needed rim protection by blocking three shots and also made a steal.

Bradshaw’s high school teammate, UK point guard D.J. Wagner, also played well in front of the home folks.

Returning after missing Kentucky’s upset loss to UNC Wilmington last week due to an ankle injury, Wagner had nine points and seven assists. In the second half, the 6-4, 192-pound Wagner also did strong defensive work on Penn star Clark Slajchert. Wagner held Slajchert to five points after halftime after the Penn guard had 12 in the first half.

Philadelphia native Justin Edwards was limited to 14 minutes of action due to foul problems but had six points and three rebounds.

2. Kentucky defense. Penn came into Saturday’s game scorching-hot from behind the 3-point line.

In their 111-57 strafing of NCAA Division III FDU-Florham on Wednesday night, Pennsylvania hit 21 of 34 treys. Over its three games prior to UK, Penn had made 45 of 84 3-point shots, a robust 53.6 percent.

On Saturday, UK held the Quakers to 9-of-28 from behind the arc.

For a Kentucky defense that has not been stellar in 2023-24, it was an encouraging showing.

3. Reeves to the rescue. UK was clinging to a 61-57 lead midway through the second half when super-senior shooting guard Antonio Reeves sparked a run that put Kentucky in control for good.

With 9:21 left, Reeves hit a 6-footer off a pass from D.J. Wagner. That was followed by a Reeves follow shot at 8:49 that pushed the Cats ahead 65-57.

Following a Wagner layup, Reeves buried a 3-pointer, again off a pass from Wagner, to push Kentucky ahead 70-57. The Quakers never cut their deficit under double digits again.

For the game, the 6-6, 195-pound Reeves finished with 16 points and three rebounds.

4. Cats vs. the Ivy. With its victory, Kentucky is now 18-3 against Ivy League teams — 2-0 vs. Columbia, 1-1 against Cornell, 3-1 vs. Dartmouth, 1-0 vs. Harvard, 6-0 against Penn, 3-1 vs. Princeton, and 2-0 against Yale.

Brown is the only Ivy League team UK has not played.

5. Kentucky vs. Philadelphia’s Big Five. Against Philly’s famed “Big Five” college basketball schools (which now numbers six teams), UK is now 33-5 — 1-0 vs. Drexel, 3-0 vs. LaSalle, 6-0 against Penn, 3-0 vs. Saint Joseph’s, 14-4 vs. Temple and 6-1 vs. Villanova.

UK has gone 2-0 this season vs. Big Five foes, having beaten Penn and Saint Joe’s (96-88 in overtime last month at Rupp Arena).

Kentucky freshman Aaron Bradshaw, playing his second game as a Wildcat, scored 17 points, collected 11 rebounds and blocked three shots in UK’s win over Penn.
Kentucky freshman Aaron Bradshaw, playing his second game as a Wildcat, scored 17 points, collected 11 rebounds and blocked three shots in UK’s win over Penn.

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Box score from No. 16 Kentucky basketball’s 81-66 win over Penn

Shot chart from No. 16 Kentucky basketball’s 81-66 win over Penn in Philadelphia

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