Kentucky Wildcats vs. Stonehill Skyhawks Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 17th 2023

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No. 17 Kentucky looks to pick up the pieces against visiting Stonehill on Friday following a high-profile clash against the top-ranked team in the nation.

The young Wildcats (2-1) saw a 14-point lead in the second half go by the boards before dropping an 89-84 decision to No. 1 Kansas on Tuesday. Kentucky misfired on its last eight shots from the floor to fall short in the Champions Classic in Chicago.

“We’re learning,” Wildcats coach John Calipari said. “None of us are happy that we lost the game. I’m not happy. I’ve got work to do to help them finish games off, figure out who needs to be in at the end of those games.

“But to come in this environment with this, you know, everything that goes with this, the bells and whistles, and they perform like they did? I couldn’t ask for much more.”

Chicago native Antonio Reeves collected 24 points and eight rebounds and Rob Dillingham highlighted his 18-point performance by draining a 3-pointer on four consecutive possessions in the first half.

Sophomore Adou Thiero recorded career highs in points (16) and rebounds (13).

“He fought. He played hard. He subbed himself,” Calipari said of Thiero. “I had one guy that refused to sub himself and missed three shots and turned the ball over. You’re exhausted? Come out. It’s not high school. … But he played above the rim, went and got balls, was physical. He was good.”

But not good enough in the eyes of Thiero.

“It feels good to have this type of performance, but when you don’t walk away with a ‘W,’ it doesn’t really feel the same,” Thiero said, per the Louisville Courier Journal.

Now, Thiero and company will venture from the Windy City back to Lexington, Ky. for a date against the Skyhawks (1-3) in the second game of the Wildcat Challenge.

Stonehill dropped its third lopsided result of the season with a 100-56 setback to St. Joseph’s on Tuesday.

The Skyhawks hung tough for nearly the first 10 minutes of the contest before the floodgates opened. They also didn’t do themselves any favors by shooting just 27.4 percent from the floor (17 of 62) and 22.6 percent from 3-point range (7 of 31) for the game.

Shane O’Dell collected 16 points and four rebounds for Stonehill. Tony Felder made two 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.

The Skyhawks, who still are in transition from Division II, are challenging themselves with a difficult nonconference schedule out of the chute. They dropped a 107-67 decision to defending champion UConn on Nov. 11.

Jackson Benigni, a native of East Hampton, Conn., made 9 of 14 shots and finished with 22 points versus the Huskies. He struggled from the floor versus Saint Joseph’s, sinking just 1 of 8 shots en route to three points.

“He brings that competitive edge and spirit,” Stonehill coach Chris Kraus said of Benigni. “He’s a hard-nosed, attacking winner. It was great to see him knock the 3-ball down (versus UConn), because he’s such a great shooter.”

–Field Level Media

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