Kentucky Visits and Takes Home an Earned Win

The Kentucky Wildcats Defeats The University of Pennsylvania Quakers 81 – 66

PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/9/2023 –

The University of Pennsylvania played Kentucky for the sixth time. This game was part of the Malone’s Championship Series sponsored by Campbell’s with the Wells Fargo Center being the venue. Penn played a nationally ranked team. Number 16/17 Kentucky had four players with local ties coming home. Time to tip the basketball.

Penn was competitive, right there trailing the storied program by 61 – 57 with 10 minutes to play. Kentucky pulled away in the last segment to bring home their seventh win of the season.

“I told them we played really well for the first 10 minutes of the second half,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “And felt we were playing a type of game that we have to against Kentucky. We did not play well down the stretch. And we don’t against a team is talented as Kentucky.”

“I woke up at 4 this morning worried about this game,” Kentucky Coach John Calipari said. “Every time I watch tape they’re making 25 three’s and back cutting. I think we had a fairly good game plan of what we had to do. but it doesn’t matter. They run their stuff.”

Decisive Runs

When the Quakers pulled to within four halfway through the stanza, visions of upsets danced in their heads. The Wildcats responded by scoring the nine to take control of the game. Guard Antonio Reeves keyed the spurt scoring seven of his 16 points during that stretch. The Red and Blue got no closer than eleven.

Close to halftime the Wildcats held a 16-point lead at 39 – 23. In the second half the Quakers cut that to 45 – 43. The team had to be mentally tough, and they were.

“I think it says we are a mentally tough team, physically challenging, hard to give up,” Penn guard Clark Slajchert said. “I think we need to get to a point where you continue to push from that. Be in the position to respond and make them respond to us.”

Battle of the Boards

Kentucky won the rebounding battle 41 – 31. It was something that worried Kentucky Coach John Calipari. Would his team be outrebounded? The Cats were not and their 13 offensive rebounds resulted in a 16 – 6 second chance points advantage.

Penn junior Nick Spinoso pulled down a team-best 9 rebounds, all off the defensive glass.

Also a factor was turnovers. Penn had 15 to 10 for Kentucky, but the Wildcats made the Quakers pay for their mistakes having a 22 – 5 edge in points off turnovers.

Penn Freshman Stepped Up

Penn had two freshman guards Tyler Perkins and Sam Brown post double figures in scoring getting 15 and 12 points. They shot a combined 10 of 27 (37%) and drained 7 of 18 from beyond the arc. The duo were not in awe of the situation.

“In high school and now playing at this level is different, but doesn’t faze me or anybody,” said Quakers guard Sam Brown. “I think we are all ready for that challenge, and excited to be a part of it.”

Slajchert led Penn with 17 points. Spinoso added 10 points. But Donahue sees the importance of freshmen contributing to the team as the season progresses.

“We’re going to need Sam Brown and Tyler Perkins,” Donahue said. ‘For us to compete for a championship these two have to be ready. These games are hard, but the league is really hard. And it’s a different kind of hard. It’s a mental hard. You’ve got to be ready every night.”

A big plus was Penn assisted 18 times on 26 baskets.

Kentucky Locals

The Wildcats had four players with local ties; Aaron Bradshaw and D.J. Wagner from Camden High School, Justin Edwards a Philadelphian from Imhotep Charter, and Kareem Watkins from Camden and Kingsway Regional. Bradshaw had the biggest impact scoring 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting to go along with double-digit rebounds.

“I’m back home with my brothers playing with this team,” said Bradshaw. “And it was just us having fun.”

Wagner scored 9 points and handed out a game-best 7 assists. Edwards put in 6 points. The locals shot a combined 14 for 26 (53.8%) from the field, 2 of 4 from beyond the arc, 4 for 8 from the free throw line, and grabbed 15 rebounds and 7 assists.

Up Next

Penn had a couple of days off. Howard visits on the 11th of the month. Then the Quakers are off for exams before going on a road trip to Rider, Houston, and Auburn prior to the start of the Ivy League portion of the schedule.


Written By: Glenn Papazian


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