LEXINGTON – December 31, 2021 – DAVID LEVERIDGE
As 2021 is ending, the Wildcats returned to Rupp Arena hosting the High Point University Panthers. The game also marked the return of Former coach Orlando Tubby Smith. Prior to today’s tip off the former coach had his name retired on a jersey hanging from the Rupp Arena Rafters. Tubby was joined by his family including wife Donna Smith, sons Saul and G.G Smith and former players Jeff Shepherd, Cameron Mills, Wayne Turner and Lukas Orbzut was also on the court for the emotional moment.
Today’s game against High Point was never in jeopardy of High point winning the game as Kentucky coasted to a 92-48 victory. Kentucky was a far superior team, but the story of the game was Tubby returning to Rupp Arena and having his jersey and name retired in the Rupp Rafters. Coach Smith received a loud standing ovation and he and his family felt the love of the Big Blue Nation. When Coach Smith left Kentucky almost fifteen years ago many fans where disgruntled with the coach. Today the Big Blue Nation made the former coach feel a warm welcome and coach Calipari really went above and beyond expectations making sure the former coach felt welcomed and the game was played in front of one of the largest crowds of the season at Rupp Arena. Basketball wise Kentucky was led in scoring by Kellan Grady who scored twenty- three points while making seven three- point baskets. The Wildcat team had also nearly every scholarship player score at least one basket apart from Dontae Allen who failed to score.
First Half- Kentucky and High Point University met for the fourth time today on the hardwood and the game was close for the first few minutes. With under thirteen minutes remaining in the half the game was tied at 14, but Kentucky started to pull away in the final ten minutes. Ty Ty Washington led the Cats in scoring in the first with ten points and made two three-point baskets. Kellan Grady had a good half connecting with two three-point baskets and finished the half with eight points. Kentucky finished the half on an eleven to zero run with great defensive plays and fast break dunks by Oscar Tshiebwe and Grady. At intermission Kentucky led High by eighteen points Kentucky 43- High Point 25.
Second half- in the opening minutes of the second half High Point cut the lead to thirteen points and was playing with confidence. Kentucky countered with a fourteen to zero run with Grady connecting on back-to-back three-point baskets, Kentucky had a commanding twenty-seven-point lead and a lead that would not be relinquished. Grady continued his strong performance connecting on two more three-point baskets and finished the game with a game high twenty-three points making seven threes in the process. With the game in hand Coach Calipari gave the reserve players minutes and nearly every scholarship player scored in the game with Allen being the exception. Kentucky goes on to defeat High Point by fifty- four-point Kentucky 92- High Point 48.
High Point 48
#1 Wright 12 points, #2 House 8 points, #5 Randleman #10 Izunabor 6 points, #55 Austin 12 points, #4 Holt 2 points, #12 Childress 3 points, #24 Wright 3 points.
#2 Sahvir Wheeler 2 points, #3 Ty Ty Washington Jr. 15 points, #12 Keion Brooks Jr. 9 points, #31 Kellan Grady 23 points, #34 Tshiebwe 15 points, #0 Jacob Toppin 6 points, #4 Damion Collins 6 points, #10 Davion Mintz 10 points, 2 points #14 Brenan Canada 2 points, #23 Bryce Hopkins 2 points, and #55 Lance Ware 2 points.
Kentucky improved on the season with an overall record of eleven wins and two losses and is currently on a four-game win streak. Next up for Kentucky the CATS return to SEC play travelling Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a matchup against the LSU Tigers and the game will be broadcasted on the SEC Network tip off at seven pm.