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The Seahawk

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The Seahawk

UNCW defeats Kentucky Wildcats in men’s basketball

K. J. Jenkins drives to the basket. (Tommy Quarles/UNCWSports.com)

UNCW made history and beat #12 University of Kentucky (UK) 80-73 in their game on Dec. 2.  This win was the first against a Top 25 opponent away from home in program history. The UNCW men’s basketball team faced a tough opponent, the UK Wildcats, a team ranked #12 nationally. UK, or ‘Big Blue,’ is a powerhouse collegiate basketball program. They are consistently ranked in the AP Top 25, with eight total national championships. Their score puts them in second place of all time for their number of national championships. UK came into this game with a 6-1 record overall this season, while holding the #12 ranking in the AP Top 25 rankings. They are led by a historically high-ranking freshmen class, with three five-star players and two four-star players. This draft class includes Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw and DJ Wagner. Edwards was ranked #3, Bradshaw was #5 and Wagner was #6 in the nation respectively coming out of high school. The four-star players that they have on their roster from last year’s recruiting class are Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard.  

UNCW came  into this game with a 5-2 record. The Seahawks are led by Trazarien White and Shykeim Phillips. White comes in with averages of 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists. White’s shooting splits have been 58.3/33.3/71.2. Phillips comes in with 13.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Phillip’s shooting splits are 50/12.5/80. White and Phillips are among the players that would help lead the Seahawks to a shocking upset victory at Rupp Arena, in Lexington, Ky.  

Players celebrate postgame. (Tommy Quarles/UNCWSports.com)

The Seahawks shocked Rupp Arena with the result on Saturday. There were 19,990 people (approximately the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden) in attendance there, with the arena being at 98% capacity. The Wildcats had only lost one game before this, and that game was against the overall numberone team in the nation, the Kansas Jayhawks. This victory by UNCW was astonishing to many. UNCW led 41-33 at halftime of this game. In the first half, the Seahawks were winning 38-24, before the Wildcats closed the gap. The game remained close throughout the second half as well, with the Seahawks playing to hold the lead. Previously mentioned Reed Sheppard started his first game of the season for Kentucky, finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He played 39 of the 40 minutes of the game. However, it would not be enough for the Wildcats, who were unable to comeback from halftime. The Seahawks won the game 80-73, with four players in double figures. This was a statement victory for UNCW, showing the nation the legitimacy of this program. UNCW’s next game is against Montreat College on Dec. 10 at 2 pm. This game will be played at home. 

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