The heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats looked to defend Rupp Arena for the last time this season against the Ole Miss Rebels. Kentucky (20-9, 9-7) are coming of their best three game streak of the season. An increase in defensive pressure and the ability to move the basketball on the offensive end has been the catalyst for the better play. Ole Miss’s head coach, Tony Madlock, is coaching only his third game since Jamie Kennedy has stepped down on Feb. 18th.
The game started off with an abundance of technical foul calls. The first was called with 18:47 left in the half on Ole Miss’s Marcanvis Hymon and then Hymon picked up his second technical and Nick Richards his first technical foul just minutes later. The last technical was picked up by the Rebel’s forward Justas Furmanavicius. All the technical fouls and trips to the monitor (for the referees) made the first 10 minutes of the game have no flow. The Wildcats couldn’t seem to pull away from the Rebels until Kevin Knox hit a three pointer with 8:14 left in the half followed by a Gilgeous-Alexander layup gave the Cats a 4-point lead. The Wildcats settled down the rest of the half and ended it with a 50 to 42 point lead. Kevin Knox lead Kentucky with 13 points, but the highlight of the half was Wenyen Gabriel. This was the most aggressive that we have saw him this season. He finished the half with 12 points and 3 rebounds in his 15 mins of play.
Gabriel continued his great play by scoring the Cats first 3-point basket of the half on his first shot. The Rebels pulled within 2 points early in the half by shooting 5 for 6 to start the half. The Wildcats stretched the lead back out to a 10-point lead, but after a few bad calls by the officials and a technical by Gabriel, the Rebels pulled back within 3. The Cats were finally able to pull away for good after a couple of three pointers by Green and Diallo. Kevin Knox was the leading scorer for the Wildcats with 21 points, but the player of the game was Gilgeous- Alexander who flirted with a triple-double. He scored 17 points, had 10 assists, and grabbed 7 rebounds to help the Wildcats defeat the Rebels 96 to 78.
When the officials call an abundance of fouls it’s clear the Wildcats play worse. This game, however, the Cats were able to score at will on the Rebels. Kentucky ended the game with 5 players in double figures and shot 50% (44% 3pt) for the game. The Cats travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators on Saturday