PIKEVILLE – October 22, 2022 – MICHAEL WILLIS
Tonight’s Blue/White game wasn’t your typical preseason intersquad scrimmage that gives the Big Blue Nation their first glimpse of their Kentucky Wildcats. This year it served the greater purpose of raising money for the Eastern Kentucky flood victims. At halftime John Calipari announced that the players and fans raised $162,450 and presented a check to Governor Beshear. Preceding the game, the players handed out coats and gloves to the victims who lost everything in the floods. Calipari also decided to take the game to the Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville to give the region a better chance to see the game.
Big Blue Madness is BBN’s way to celebrate the beginning of a new season. The Blue/White game is more competitive and allows the fans to evaluate the players and see where they stand before the season officially begins. Besides the absence of Wheeler, Tshiebwe, and Ware, tonight’s game did not disappoint.
It was an evenly played game throughout the night that ended in the White team’s favor 70-67. This season has the opportunity to be a special one because of the depth of this team. Last season’s injury woes will not affect this year’s team and hopefully they can make a Final Four run. The next time to see the Cats in action will be on Oct. 30th at 7pm and can be viewed on the SEC Network.
Jacob Toppin- Toppin’s shooting and aggressiveness is the biggest improvements in his game from last season. He led the White team with 9 rebounds and seemed to be a part of every set play on offense. Tshiebwe and Toppin will be a very hard duo for opponents to guard once Oscar returns.
CJ Fredrick- His three-point shooting will play a big part of how far the Wildcats will make a run in the tournament. He may be Kentucky’s best shooter since Tyler Herro. He made 4 of his 5 three-point attempts.
Adou Thiero- Adou picked up where he left off in the Bahamas and proved he wasn’t afraid to shoot it. He scored 8 of the first 12 points for the Blue team. He was the only player to earn a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. He also gained 6 assists.
Daimon Collins- Collins has made great strides in the off-season he seems more intent to get to the basket this year instead of just settling for a jump shot. It will be interesting to see if he and Toppin play on the floor together when Oscar is healthy.
Antonio Reeves- With Wheeler out, Reeves started at point guard for the blue team and showed that he could lead the team if needed. His shooting is a nice addition to the team too. Antonio led both teams with 27 points, hitting 5 of his 12 three-pointers.
Brennan Canada- Canada had a nice and-one basket and hit a baseline jumper. He ended with 5 points, 3 assist, and 2 rebounds.
Cason Wallace- Wallace’s on-the-ball defense is unmatched on the team. He is going to wear the opponents’ guards down. He can also spread the floor on the offensive side with his shooting. Tonight, he was 3-6 from behind the arc. He also led both teams in assists with 8.
Chris Livingston- Livingston is a versatile player that can play/guard any position on the court. It is going to be difficult to leave him on the bench this season. He ended the night with 15 points.
Kareem Watkins- Watkins would get more playing time at another school. He controls the ball well and is always looking ahead to pass the ball.
Ugonnna Onyenso- The length of Onyeso is going to cause trouble for opponents and his length will give him lots of alley-oop opportunities. Playing time may difficult to earn due to the experience returning at his position. He runs the court well for his size and will get easy baskets. He scored 14 points and led the teams with 4 blocks.