LEXINGTON - The No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats improved to 4-0 at Rupp Arena and 4-2 on the year Wednesday with a lopsided 96-56 win over North Florida.
"I liked what I saw assists to turnovers," UK head coach John Calipari said postgame. "I liked what I saw. Figuring out for the first time how we post Oscar (Tshiebwe) and stuff that we're trying to do."
Kentucky took a 10-5 lead into the game's first media timeout thanks to four early points from Jacob Toppin and three pointers Antonio Reeves and Cason Wallace.
Following the break, the Wildcats put together a 9-4 run highlighted by an Oscar Tshiebwe steal that he turned into a transition dunk to put the Wildcats up 19-9 and force North Florida to call timeout with 12:15 left in the half.
UK took a 28-14 lead into the third media timeout and used a 10-2 run to extend the lead to 38-16 heading into the under four media stop.
By halftime the UK lead grew to 31 as Reeves drilled a three as the half expired to give the Wildcats a 54-23 lead.
Reeves scored 18 first half points connecting on four of his five shots from three and shooting 7-for-9 from the field. As a team, UK shot 53.7 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from three in the first half.
"The Reeves kid, No. 12, just from watching them on film and just from being at the highest level that I've been at Baylor, and at Clemson and obviously doing this for 35 years and this is a think of 91st guaranteed money game. So I've seen a lot of good players. He's as good a three point shooter, and as good of a three point finder than there is in the country," North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll said postgame. "Like if he doesn't have a three, he's going to find the three with a step back or separation. Instead of a lot of guys, they get thrown off and then they can't get into the rhythm. And I think that's what makes Reeves special."
More from this section
Kentucky's dominance continued into the second half as it took a 67-31 lead into the first media timeout of the half and extended it to 40 points at 79-39 with 12:14 left in the game leading the Ospreys to call timeout.
The two teams played even at 17-17 the remainder of the game which allowed UK to close out a 40-point win.
Reeves scored 20 points in the win for UK, while Toppin also scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds to log a double-double.
Tshiebwe logged his third double-double of the season and 31st in 38 games as a Wildcat with 16 points and 15 rebounds. He also added a career-high five assists, picked up three steals and blocked two shots.
"He's gotten better, if you remember, he wasn't a real good passer a year ago, especially early in the year," Calipari said of Tshiebwe's five assist night from his center position. "But to have five assists, one turnover, and three steals. That's a big game. Now. We have a belt that we give out after wins. The most impactful player who impacted the game, the staff gets it and it's a big shining belt. Maybe they'll show you. He got it today. He was the most impactful."
"I know they're gonna double team me all the time because if you leave me one on one with the guy, it's easy buckets -- So I've got to be a good passer if I want my team to win," Tshiebwe added.
Jarius Hicklen led North Florida with 17 points. The Ospreys dropped to 1-4 on the season with the loss and fell to Kentucky for a second straight season at Rupp Arena as UNF came to Lexington and fell 86-52 last season.
Kentucky will be back in action next Tuesday when it welcomes in-state foe Bellarmine, to Rupp Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.