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Toppin takes 20 points, Great Britain defeats North Florida

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Jacob Toppin had a second straight breakout performance.

Toppin scored a career-high 20 points and had 10 rebounds on Wednesday to help the No. 15 Kentucky defeat North Florida 96-56.

Toppin had a career-high 16 points so far in an 88-72 loss at No. 6 Gonzaga on Sunday.

“As the season progresses, I get more confident,” he said. “It’s up to my teammates. I’m not worried about goals right now, I’m more worried about defense and rebounds and offense will come. I knew (my offense) was coming.”

The Wildcats (4-2) bounced back easily from the loss at Gonzaga to win their 23rd straight home game against an unranked opponent.

“We always want to bounce back after a loss,” said Toppin. “I think we did well.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari liked the Wildcats’ reaction after two losses in six days last week.

“I’m not happy that we lost two games,” said Calipari. “I want to win every game I coach. We gave one away (Michigan State) and the other that I knew would be hard for us to win (at Gonzaga). .. When it started the way it started and we couldn’t get a shot, it got ugly.”

Ten players scored for the Wildcats, with three starters in double figures.

Oscar Tshiebwe had his second double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Antonio Reeves finished with 20 points.

Toppin scored the majority of his second-half goals with 12 points.

In his first start of the season, Illinois State transfer Reeves had 18 points in the first half and grabbed four of Kentucky’s seven 3-pointers, including two in a row.

Reeves hit a 3-pointer on the buzzer to end an impressive first-half performance.

“It felt great,” Reeves said. “(I) felt comfortable. The team included me in the game. My rim got bigger. I just kept shooting at the ball.”

Jarius Hicklen led the Ospreys (1-4) with 17 points.

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: After dropping 11 spots in the top 25 last week after two losses in six days, the Wildcats began a climb back into the top 10. The Wildcats will play four of their next seven games at home. Kentucky continues to play selflessly, finishing the tournament with 23 assists and an average of 19 per game. Kentucky had nine blocks, led by freshman Ugonna Onyenso with four ahead of him, along with 10 rebounds, both career highs.

North Florida: The Ospreys have played just one home game in their first six games. North Florida’s only win was a 72-66 win over South Carolina State on November 19 at home. After road games at High Point (December 3) and Houston (December 6) to open in December, North Florida will end the year with four home games.

HOMECOMING

North Florida senior Carter Hendricksen returned to Lexington and finished the tournament with seven points. Hendricksen led Lexington Christian to two district titles and a Class A state title in 2018 during a stellar assisting career. Hendricksen entered the competition as the team’s second-top scorer, averaging 14.5 points per game.

NEXT

Kentucky: hosts Bellarmine State on Tuesday night. The Knights beat Crosstown Louisville in their opener.

Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe (34) dives during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Florida in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, November 23, 2022. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

North Florida’s Jarius Hicklen (right) looks for a chance against Kentucky’s Sahvir Wheeler (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Kentucky Wednesday, November 23, 2022. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Kentucky’s Daimion Collins (4) shoots near North Florida’s Jonathan Aybar (21) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, November 23, 2022. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

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