LEXINGTON, Ky. — Tre Mitchell scored nine of his season-high 22 points in overtime, leading No. 16 Kentucky to a 96-88 win over Saint Joseph’s on Monday night.
Mitchell, a transfer from West Virginia, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open Kentucky’s scoring in overtime, and the Wildcats outscored the Hawks 19-11 in the extra period.
“Tre made shots, and those are what I call moments,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “And (those 3s) were the moments.”
Mitchell was prepared to carry the Wildcats down the stretch, and he took advantage of what was offered by the opposing defense.
“I was open,” Mitchell said. “I was open and I was letting it go. Coach Calipari would probably yell at me if I didn’t. … If they leave me open, I’m going to keep shooting it.”
Calipari wasn't surprised by the showing by Saint Joseph's, which was making its first visit to Lexington.
“I knew they could play this way. … I would have liked to have won by 15 or 20 (points), but you take advantage of what unfolds,” Calipari said. "... We missed some shots. We missed some free throws. They banged a couple of threes. All of a sudden, it’s anybody’s game. We were kind of lucky to get it to OT, we really were.”
D.J. Wagner had a career-best 22 points for the Wildcats (4-1). Antonio Reeves scored 20 points, Rob Dillingham added 13 and Justin Edwards 12.
Saint Joseph’s forward Christ Essandoko hit one of two free throws with 14 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 77. Kentucky had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Wagner missed a jumper in the lane.
Dillingham provided a spark off the bench for the Wildcats, scoring 10 points in the first half.
Kentucky, which made 17 3-pointers in a 101-67 win over Stonehill on Friday, missed its first three shots from long distance, but rebounded and connected on seven shots from long range in the opening half. Kentucky made 12 3-pointers in the win.
Saint Joseph’s (3-2) also put on a display from long range, making 15 3-points, including six by Erik Reynolds III, who led the Hawks with a 28 points. Reynolds made six shots from beyond the arc.
Xzayvier Brown and Cameron Brown each scored 17 points for the Hawks.
“I thought our guys played well enough to win,” Hawks coach Billy Lange said. “We didn’t, and that’s what we came here to do. We believe we should win every game we play and we represent a great university that has an amazing fighting spirit. We needed to do that in front of Big Blue Nation, and I thought we did.”
Saint Joseph’s opened the season with four straight homes games before embarking on its first trip to Lexington. The Hawks used their decisive height advantage in the post and outrebounded the Wildcats 42-36.
Kentucky: The Wildcats closed out the four-team Wildcat Challenge with a perfect 3-0 mark, defeating Texas A&M Commerce, Stonehill and Saint Joseph’s. Kentucky plays three more games at home, including a Nov. 28 matchup against No. 10 Miami, in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.
Kentucky: Hosts Marshall on Friday.
Saint Joseph’s: Hosts Sacred Heart on Sunday.
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