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CATS Blow Away Toppers

Davion Mintz - photo by Danny Pendelton - Bluegrass Sports Nation

LEXINGTON – December 22, 2021 – John Turner, III

The Kentucky Wildcats hosted the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and former Mr. Basketball, Camron Justice, Wednesday night in Rupp Arena. Kentucky was originally supposed to host Louisville, but due to Covid-19 safety protocols, the game was cancelled. Kentucky came into the game (8-2) on the season, coming off a 98-69 win against the North Carolina Tarheels. Western Kentucky came into the game (8-4) on the season, coming off an 82-72 win against the Louisville Cardinals this past Saturday, with Camron Justice finishing with twenty-five points. The Wildcats and the Hilltoppers have matched up six times in the past, with Kentucky leading the series 4-2. However, the last meeting in Rupp Arena, the Hilltoppers beat the Wildcats 64-52 in the 2001-02 season.

Sahvir Wheeler converted on a two-point jumper to give Kentucky an 8-5 lead with 17:26 left to play. Jacob Toppin converted a put back dunk on a missed three-point attempt to give the Cats a 20-7 lead, that got a big applause from the crowded BBN. Kellan Grady hit back-to-back three-point field goals with 4:37 remaining in the first half, giving the Wildcats a 35-19 lead, forcing the Hilltoppers to call a timeout. Kentucky went into the half with a 37-28 lead.

Kentucky led the majority of the first half, besides 25 seconds of play. The Wildcats did a good job getting out in transition with ten fast break points and breaking down Western Kentucky’s 2-3 Zone, finding the open man and being patient in the half court set. Kentucky was led offensively by Kellan Grady with twelve points, TyTy Washington with nine points, and Oscar Tshiebwe with eight points. Kentucky was led on the glass by no other than, Oscar Tshiebwe, grabbing eleven boards in the first twenty minutes of play.

To start the second half, Camron Justice converted on an And-1 layup, making the free throw, to cut the Kentucky lead to 37-31. Kellan Grady hit a three-point field goal with 18:29 left to play in the second half to give the Cats a 40-34 lead. Grady converted on another three-point attempt, with 17:10 left on the clock, to give Kentucky a 45-33 lead. That really got the crowd going. Jacob Toppin had another big dunk, assisted from Davion Mintz on baseline penetration, against the zone, giving Kentucky a 49-33 lead. Kellan Grady hit another three-point field goal to improve the lead to 52-33 and giving Kentucky a 15-0 run. Kentucky’s speed and athleticism started to play a toll on the Hilltoppers in the second half, as the Cats never looked back. Camron Justice, hit a three-point field goal, with 13:03 left in regulation, to cut the Kentucky lead to 58-38. Justice converted on back-to-back layups, to put the score to 62-42, putting him in double-digits on the night, giving him ten points, all in the second half.

Kentucky improves to (9-2) on the season with the win over Western Kentucky tonight, with a final score of 95-60. Kentucky was led in scoring by Kellan Grady finishing with twenty-three points, TyTy Washington with twenty points, Oscar Tshiebwe with fourteen points, and Jacob Toppin with twelve points. Kentucky was led in rebounding by Oscar Tshiebwe, finishing with twenty-eight rebounds on the night, outrebounding Western Kentucky’s whole team, who finished with a team total of twenty-seven rebounds. In state native, from the small town of Hindman, Camron Justice, finished with thirteen points on the night The Wildcats get started in SEC play December 29th, next Wednesday, hosting the Missouri Tigers at 7 PM in Rupp Arena.

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