Sheppard earns third SEC Freshman of the Week honor

Published 10:46 am Tuesday, March 5, 2024

For the third time this season, Reed Sheppard was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week.

The freshman guard scored a career-high 32 points to lead the Wildcats to a 91-89 win at Mississippi State last week. Sheppard scored 23 points in the second half, including 11 in the final 93 seconds, one of which was the game-winner with five tenths of a second remaining.

“It was a heck of a play,” Mississippi State coach Chris Jans said. ““(Sheppard) controlled, for his team, the last minute of the game. He’s so savvy and so smart, it’s like a coach out there on the floor. He’s inbounding the ball and getting it right back. He’s obviously an excellent free throw shooter and put us in some tough positions, having to foul him down the stretch.”

Email newsletter signup

Sheppard added five rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and a pair of steals in the come-from-behind victory.

“Until I got on the plane, I didn’t know he had 32 points,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “He has the ability to stay calm and not worry about losing. You only worry about winning. How do we win? You can’t play not to lose.”

In wins over Mississippi State and Arkansas, Sheppard averaged 21 points in the two victories and his 76 steals on the season rank him third on the school’s all-time list.

Arkansas coach Eric Mussellman was impressed with the Wildcats following his team’s setback Saturday at Rupp Arena.

“I’m not sure that I’ve been around a team that played this hard,” he said. “They went 27-28 from the foul line, had 10 steals, 13 assists, and we come away with a loss, but you’re talking about a Kentucky team that can win a National Championship and playing in their building.”

Kentucky (21-8) moved up to No. 15 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll released Monday. Tennessee (23-6) is No. 4, followed by Auburn (22-7) at 13th. Alabama (20-9) is No. 16, South Carolina (24-5) is 17th going into the final two games of the regular season.