CATS get Exhibition Win, Worry for Wheeler
LEXINGTON – October 30, 2022 – MICHAEL WILLIS
The Wildcats took to the court at Rupp Arena for their first exhibition game of the season against Missouri Western State. It was time since the Bahama games that the Big Blue Nation got to see their Wildcats play against outside competition. Even though the game doesn’t count on the official record, Wildcat fans still came out on a rainy night to see their team play.
It was not the blowout victory that you may expect and as the 56 to 38 victory shows, the Wildcats did not perform well offensively. Without CJ Fredricks 4 for 6 three-point shooting the game may have been in jeopardy. Kentucky, playing without Oscar Tshiebwe, were out-rebounded 35 to 36 by the smaller MWS. The Cats could not get into a flow offensively all night and had several three and four minute scoring droughts.
Despite the offensive woes, the Wildcats looked better than expected defensively. The Wildcats only allowed 38 points while holding the Griffins to 31% from the field. Kentucky blocked 11 shots, five of which were from Ugonna Onyenso and in only 15 minutes of playing time. The Cats also had seven steals as a team and forced 16 MSU turnovers.
CJ Fredrick led the team in scoring with 15 points, but it was Cason Wallace that Calipari bragged on in the post-game interview stating “We need more Cason Wallaces out there!” Wallace led the Cats in rebounding with seven and had 2 blocks. He also scored all nine of his points in the second half to help close out the victory.
The Wildcats have one last exhibition game left before they start the regular season. The Wildcats take on Kentucky State University on Nov. 3rd at 7pm. The game can be viewed on SEC Network.
The first basket of the game was and and-one jumper by C.J. Fredrick. The Cats went on a 3 min scoring drought that allowed MSS to take a 6 to 5 lead at the first media timeout. The Wildcat stormed back and gained an eight-point lead while making a 9-0 run. The Cats went on another scoring drought of 4 minutes, but the Griffins were unable to pull closer. The first half ended with the Cats ahead 26 to 18. Turnovers late in the half prevented the Wildcats from pulling away from the Griffins, but their defense didn’t allow Missouri Western to close the game. Kentucky had 8 first half blocks, led by Ugonaa Onyenso who had 5 blocks. Jacob Toppin led both teams with 9 points and led the Cats with 3 rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
It was a slow start for the Cats who began the second half with 2 turnovers and 1 for 4 shooting. The score was 29 to 20 at the first media timeout. A 6-minute scoring drought by the Griffins kept the Cats in the lead. Halfway through the second half Sahvir Wheeler was fouled driving to the basket and left the court with a leg injury. The Cats were able to finally pull away from the Griffins late in the second half due to Cason Wallace and Adou Thiero scoring.