UNC Wilmington upset the No. 12-ranked Kentucky Wildcats 80-73 in Rupp Arena on Saturday, a stunning loss for a Kentucky basketball team that had routed No. 8 Miami with a 22-point blowout earlier in the week. That win was the Wildcats' second-largest win over an AP top-10 team since John Calipari took over in 2009. The only bigger margin was Kentucky's 32-point win over Kansas in 2014.”.
Kentucky basketball is a freshman-heavy team, and head coach Calipari is very aware of that fact, according to Ben Roberts of Kentucky.com:
“We got stuff to learn,” Calipari concluded.
UK announced before the game that starting point guard D.J. Wagner would be out due to an ankle injury suffered in the win over Miami, and the Wildcats missed his presence. That also meant the first college start for Reed Sheppard on an already young team.
Sheppard got loose for Kentucky basketball in the win against Miami – leading the Wildcats in scoring as he dropped 22 points, with 15 coming from behind the arc. After that game, Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said that Sheppard and teammate Rob Dillingham were “two NBA guys.”
Kentucky basketball trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half against UNC Wilmington, needing a late run to go into the halftime locker room down 41-33. The Wildcats needed less than five minutes out of the break to take the lead for the first time. But UNC Wilmington went on a 13-1 run from there and never trailed again. Kentucky was never closer than five points in the final 90 seconds of the game.