No. 16 Kentucky holds off St. Joseph’s in OT thriller

No. 16 Kentucky holds off St. Joseph’s in OT thriller

Tre Mitchell scored 22 points and sank a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:57 remaining in overtime as No. 16 Kentucky outlasted Saint Joseph’s 96-88 after blowing a nine-point lead in the second half on Monday night in Lexington, Ky.

The Wildcats (4-1) saw that nine-point advantage disappear in the final 14 1/2 minutes of regulation and survived a wild final minute to reach overtime before Mitchell came through in the extra period.

He snapped a 77-77 tie by hitting a 3 from the top of the key and answered a layup by Lynn Greer III with another trey for an 83-79 lead. The Wildcats held an 87-81 edge with 90 seconds left thanks to D.J. Wagner’s basket, but Erik Reynolds II knocked down a 3-pointer to get the Hawks within 87-84 six seconds later.

Kentucky’s lead was three with 41 seconds left, but Justin Edwards made a putback dunk and the Wildcats made five foul shots to ice the game.

Wagner also scored 22 points and Antonio Reeves added 20 for the Wildcats, who shot 51.6 percent from the field. Rob Dillingham contributed 13 points and six assists, including both passes to Mitchell for the threes in overtime.

Reynolds led all scorers with 28 points for the Hawks (3-2), who were unable to get their first win over a ranked team in over five years. Cameron Brown and Xzayvier Brown finished with 17 points apiece as Saint Joseph’s shot 42.7 percent overall and made 15 threes.

Before the game reached overtime, the lead changed hands in the final 44 seconds of regulation.

Cameron Brown hit an open 3-pointer late in the shot clock after Greer passed out of a double team along the baseline to put Saint Joseph’s up 76-75 with 44 seconds to go. Kentucky regained the lead when Mitchell hammered in a putback dunk with 25 seconds left.

Saint Joseph’s tied it when Christ Essandoko split two free throws with 14 seconds remaining, and the game reached overtime when Wagner missed an off-balanced jumper with four seconds to play.

Before needing the extra period, the Wildcats held a 41-38 lead at halftime and took a 55-46 lead on a basket by Reeves with 14:32 left in regulation. Kentucky also had a 67-59 lead on a layup by Reeves with 7:12 left before the Hawks stormed back to force overtime.