The Kentucky Wildcats’ uphill climb to get again into the SEC common season race took one other optimistic activate Saturday afternoon with a 76-67 win over the Texas A&M Aggies at Rupp Arena.
Coming off back-to-back wins towards Tennessee and Georgia, the Wildcats knocked off a Texas A&M workforce that was undefeated in convention play and shared the highest spot with Alabama earlier than touring to Lexington. The Wildcats at the moment are above the .500 mark for the primary time this season with a 4-3 convention file and will face one other huge street check on Tuesday after they face a a lot improved Vanderbilt workforce in Nashville.
In what’s turn into a standard theme this season, the Wildcats bought off to a different gradual begin towards the Aggies, taking pictures simply 1-for-7 from the sector as Texas A&M took an early 6-3 lead on the first official timeout. Coming off the bench, Antonio Reeves supplied the spark to get the offense going as Kentucky would in the end trade leads through the half earlier than Oscar Tshiebwe picked up his second foul on the 7:20 mark that sparked a 14-2 run by the guests as Texas A&M led 31-29 on the half. Kentucky discovered simply sufficient offensive firepower within the second half to recover from the hump and enhance its file to 13-6 total.
Here are 4 issues it’s best to know from the Kentucky victory towards the Aggies.
Big O, Cason Wallace held scoreless within the first half
After combining for 54 factors within the latest win over Georgia, Kentucky’s two main scorers – Oscar Tshiebwe and Cason Wallace – have been each scoreless within the first half to make issues that a lot more durable for the Wildcats’ offense. Wallace was 0-for-7 from the sector, whereas Tshiebwe missed his solely shot try of the half. Both performed significantly better within the second half to assist get UK again within the win column.
Tshiebwe, the reigning National Player of the Year, had a monster sport final week, scoring a career-high 37 factors with 24 rebounds to turn into the primary Wildcat to get 35 factors and 20 rebounds since February 1976. He completed with seven factors and a game-high 16 rebounds towards the Aggies. Wallace completed with 11 factors.
Toppin picks up the slack
UK Coach John Calipari has put some added stress on Toppin to rebound in a smaller, three-guard lineup, however the Rhode Island switch more than earned his carry on the offensive finish with 11 first-half factors. Kentucky bought outrebounded 20-16 within the first half as Tshiebwe frolicked on the bench with two fouls. However, Toppin and Lance Ware confirmed sufficient struggle to maintain issues shut.
Toppin, who tallied his third double-double of the season with 11 factors and 11 boards vs. Georgia, has averaged 18.7 factors and 7.0 rebounds within the three video games main as much as Saturday and has helped the Wildcats turn into more balanced offensively. Unfortunately, Toppin, who has already battled a shoulder harm of late, took some exhausting photographs in a bodily sport and went to the locker room with 5:41 left within the sport. He returned to shut the sport with a made free throw with 11.3 remaining.
Reeves supplies activate the bench
With Calipari sticking with the beginning lineup of Wallace, Fredrick, Livingston, Toppin, and Tshiebwe, Reeves was the primary participant off the bench and instantly linked on a three-pointer on his approach to 11 first-half factors. In addition to being an excellent shooter, the 6-foot-2 guard, additionally has the bounce to get to the basket and hit quick jumpers off the dribble. Reeves completed with a game-high 23 factors. Kentucky’s different high perimeter shooter, CJ Fredrick, struggled to get going early as he was simply 1-for-7 from the sector with three factors within the first half. He is at present averaging 7.8 factors per sport on 37.3% from 3-point vary. Fredrick completed with 12 factors within the win.
Take the lid off, please!
Despite tons of criticism this season about Calipari’s offense, the Wildcats seemed sharp within the half-court on Saturday, making the additional cross and taking good photographs in an indication of maturity from earlier within the yr. The unhealthy information is that the Cats nearly shot themselves out of this one as they could not appear to purchase a three-point shot for a lot of the sport. If there’s such a factor as a “good miss”, look no additional than CJ Fredrick who appears to be like locked in with each rotation of the ball however too typically missed the mark towards Texas A&M. The identical could be stated for Wallace and Reeves, who each watched the ball dance across the rim on a number of events solely to come back up with no basket.
The excellent news is that one of the best is but to come back for this UK offense as soon as photographs begin to fall.