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CATS Out-Punched by Vandy

photo by Danny Pendleton - Bluegrass Sports Nation

CATS Fall Short on Senior Night 66-68

LEXINGTON – March 1, 2023 – Michael Willis

The Senior Night festivities has been lacking many participants since Calipari has taken the reins here at Kentucky. Tonight, however, The Big Blue Nation got to celebrate six Wildcats for (perhaps) their last game in front of the home crowd at Rupp Arena. C.J. Fredrick, Jacob Toppin, Oscar Tshiebwe, Brennan Canada, and Antonio Reeves all participated in the on-court celebration. Sahvir Wheeler was absent due to injury, but was also celebrated as a Senior with Ellen Calipari wearing his jersy.

With a chance to lock-up the SEC three seed and a chance to gain a seed in the NCAA Tournament the Wildcats faced Vanderbilt tonight a Rupp Arena tonight, but fell short 68 to 66. The Cats loss can be blamed on several reasons, but the most prominent reason is poor shooting. Kentucky made only 3 of their 19 three-point attempts. The Cats also left missed 10 free-throw attempts that could’ve swayed the game in UK’s favor.

First Half

The Wildcats took an early 9 to 6 lead at the first media timeout after five straight points by Oscar Tshiebwe. Kentucky missed their first 7 three-point attempts which allowed Vanderbilt to pull even with the Cats 15 to 15 midway through the first half. CJ Fredrick was the first Wildcat to hit a three with 8:28 left in the first half giving the Wildcats a 21 to 17 lead. It was a poor offensive performance by both teams in the first half with Kentucky shooting only 32% from the field and the Commodores shooting 30%. Late game turnovers and a three-point shot at the buzzer gave Vanderbilt a 34 to 30 lead heading into the locker room.

Second Half

The Cats and Commadores traded baskets to open the second half but a 6 to 0 run by Vandy put the Cats behind 35 to 44 at the first media timeout. WIth the crowd roaring the Wildcats made a 9 to 0 run pulling back within 2. Vanderbilt were not going to let the Cats take the lead that easy and pulled back a head by 8 with 8 minutes left in the game. Oscar Tshiebwe making 5 free-throws pulled the Cats back within one. After a Vanderbilt, the Cats put together a 6 to 0 run and tied the game 64 to 64 with less than 2 minutes left in the game. With the game tied 66 to 66 Antonio Reeves missed a jumper that allowed Vandy to score with 2.7 second left on the clock giving them a 68 to 66 lead. A missed three-pointer by Kentucky caused the Cats to fall short.

Oscar Tshiebwe was Kentucky’s player of the game with 21 points and 20 rebounds. Antonio Reeves scored the second highest point total with 14 points, but shot a terrible 4-17 from the field.

The Wildcats not only lost the game, they also lost their lone point guard, Cason Wallace, who went down with an injury. The Wildcats were forced to play the second half without a true point guard. The severity of Wallace’s injury is still unknown, but Calipari confirmed that “the x-rays were negative and there wasn’t much swelling.” Still  it is doubtful that Wallace will return in time for their matchup Saturday against Arkansas.

3-Pt FG%33.33%15.79%

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