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Wheeler’s Defense Leads CATS in 80 – 71 Exhibition Victory over Miles

photo by Danny Pendleton - Bluegrass Sports Nation

CATS Struggle, but Pull Out the Win


Kentucky returned to Rupp Arena hosting the Miles College Golden Bears in the final preseason tune up of the 2021/2022 season. Entering the game Kentucky was a prohibitive favorite and many viewed this game as rout. However, Miles College competing from the HBCU (Historical Black Colleges and Universities) gave Kentucky all the team could handle.  The Golden Bears opened the first half red hot and had a lead the majority of the first half. The Golden Bears started off the game being six for six from behind the 3-point arc, meanwhile Kentucky struggled to score the ball and just didn’t look very polished offensively. Kentucky guards Sahvir Wheeler and Ty Ty Washington was the glue that held the team together and was able to sustain the Golden Bears Barrage of three- point shooting and keep Kentucky in the game in the first half. If Not For the play of the two guards Kentucky could have easily been down fifteen as Kentucky struggled scoring the ball.

First Half- While Kentucky scored on the opening possession and had a brief two-point lead, this would be Kentucky’s only lead of the first half while only lasting for a period of twenty-five seconds. Kentucky looked out of sync offensively and eight first half turnovers had Rupp Arena abnormally quiet. There was times Kentucky tired to make a run but when the CATS would cut the lead to a single point, the Golden Bears responded with a three on the opposing end. Calipari experimented with different lineups as the starters struggled to score the ball. The Golden Bears had three players that torched Kentucky from behind the ARC with each player making multiple three-point shots. Guards Roger Davis, Truit Spencer and Elijah Horton combined for eight made three’s and twenty-six points in the first half. Kellan Grady Washington, Wheeler and Jacob Toppin caried the scoring load for Kentucky in the first half with a combined total of thirty-three points in the half. Grady’s three-point shot was effective as the fifth-year transfer connected on multiple three-point attempts and was four for five from the field overall with eleven points. Looking at the stats Miles College shot the ball at an exceptional rate in the first half making seventy three percent from behind the Arc and nearly fifty nine percent from the field. At intermission Miles College led Kentucky 46-39.

Second half- Kentucky opened the second half with intense defense by Wheeler who started pressing his man and being the floor general Kentucky needed. The Golden Bear Guards who faced little resistance brining the ball up the court in the first half was now challenged by a guard with a full court press. Kentucky opened the second half with a twenty-two to two run by pressuring the ball getting good shots and led Miles College 61- 48 with 10:59 remaining in the game. Wheeler defensive presence sparked confidence offensively and scored eight of the first ten points for the CATS in the second half. Guards Wheeler and Washington began to penetrate the zone defenses and could either drive the ball and score or find Toppin for an over-the-top lob. Kentucky also limited the Golden Bears to one shot on offensive possessions controlled the glass. Kentucky had finally gained some breathing room and maintained a comfortable seven-to-ten-point lead throughout the second half. The Wildcats had a lapse in defense the last 1:24 allowing the Golden Bears to finish the game on a nine to two run. Kentucky hangs on to defeat Miles College 80- 71.

Stats (Courtesy of Stats Broadcast.)

Kentucky 80-                     Miles College 71

FG % 49 game                  FG % 49 game

3PT FG % 58 (11-19)        50 % (15-30)

Turnovers 13                      18

Points off Turnovers 26      17

Free throws 50% (7-14)     29 % (2-7)

Rebounds 37                      31

Player stats Kentucky 80

Sahvir Wheeler 15 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals playing 31 minutes/

TyTy Washington JR. 15 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 turnovers, playing 32 minutes.

Keion Brooks 6 points, 1 rebound, 2 fouls, 1 turnover.

Jacob Toppin 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, playing 16 minutes.

Kellan Grady 13 points, 3-3 from 3PT, 1 rebound, 1 assist playing 9 minutes.

Oscar Tshibwe 4 points, 12 rebounds, 2 turnovers, playing 23 minutes.

Davion Mintz 2 points, 1 steal, playing 11 minutes.

Dantae Allen 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover, 2 blocks playing 11 minutes.

Bryce Hopkins 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, playing 12 minutes.

Miles College 71

Yasim Hooker 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, playing 21 minutes.

Roger Davis 14 points, 2 rebounds, playing 23 minutes.

Brandon Miller 11 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 turnovers, 1 steal, playing 36 minutes.

Elijah Horton 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, playing 25 minutes.

Joel Logan 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 2 blocks, playing 26 minutes.

Truitt Spencer 6 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover, playing 22 minutes.

Mykale Carter 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover, playing 11 minutes.

Patrick Rucker 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, playing 10 minutes.

Anthony Fairley 4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 1 block, playing 12 minutes.

Kentucky finishes Pre-Season Basketball out with an 80- 71 victory over the Miles College Golden Bears and improved to two and zero overall in the preseason. The CATS will open the season in the Mecca of Basketball Arena’s Madison Square Garden hosting the Duke Blue Devils in the Champions Classic. The Game will be the knight cap of the opening night of College Basketball following the Michigan State vs University of Kansas Jay Hawks. Kentucky and Duke is expected to tip off at 9:30 the game can be viewed on ESPN.

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