The Cats won their first NCAA Tournament since 2019 thanks to a historic performance by Oscar Chebue.
The Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Providence Friars Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by a score of 61-53.
The cats started out a bit slow, but they were clearly ready to start this. Jacob Tobin asserted himself offensively early as Oscar Cheppui dominated the boards and blew Antonio Reeves late in the road to take a 38-32 halftime lead.
After the break, this game slowed down. During the middle of the second half, the teams accumulated 15 points.
However, the Cats managed to put this far behind the dominating performances of Oscar Cheppuis and Antonio Reeves.
Monkey off the back as the Cats secured their first NCAA Tournament win since 2019. They will play again Sunday against the winner of the Kansas State and the state of Montana.
Kentucky was unable to warm up due to a rim failure that also affected Iowa tornadoes in the previous game.
Meanwhile, the brothers had no problems getting shots.
This is an incredible problem that has arisen on college basketball’s biggest stage. Iowa State was forced to request a stop due to rim issues on their way to shooting 23.3% from the field.
Such were the rims Kentucky fired in the first inning, and they ended up getting a brutal 1/8 shooting start.
Fortunately, the Cats got hot and scored 38 points shooting 46% from the field and 40% from depth.
Wheeler continues to sit
Safer Wheeler was expected to play in this game after practicing all week, but he did not take the floor in this game.
John Calipari announced before the game that Wheeler was only 70-75% and would not play. There has been speculation for several weeks that Wheeler may have played his last game in a Kentucky uniform, and it seems more and more likely by the day.
Wheeler has not played since February 4th. He suspiciously missed Senior Day due to tailbone surgery after being out with an ankle injury. Big Blue Nation questioned why the surgery was done that morning, but Calipari insisted he would play again this season.
After practicing thoroughly all week and still not playing, it looks like the conspiracy theorists may have been right and Wheeler had his last game with the Cats.
Oscar Chibuy makes history
What else can you say? Oscar. Chibui. Sure, we all have our issues with Tshiebwe this year. His defense was poor and the surgery clearly affected his athletic fitness, at least early on.
However, the reigning National Player of the Year looked like himself on the glass. With Kentucky’s record 25 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament, the Big O also became the first player in Kentucky basketball history with more than 15 rebounds in the tournament. The guy refused to lose again in the first round after last year’s debacle.
Tshiebwe seemed to grab every rebound in the first half in an absolutely insane performance. He didn’t do much on the offensive end, but he didn’t need to.
Oscar Chipui has now tasted NCAA Tournament success!
Reeves holds an offense
Antonio Reeves is the straw that moves this Big Blue drink. The Cats go as Reeves goes, and he’s come a long way in this game, scoring a game-high 22 points to make it three boards. He also hit a massive pointer in the closing minutes to ensure Kentucky would stay ahead forever.
Reeves was a staple of Kentucky’s offense all season, proving once again that Kentucky’s success depended on his scoring.
The offense wasn’t pretty, but Reeves was once again a bright spot in a phenomenal performance.
Bonus: the eastern region is wide open.
Because top seed Purdue just lost to 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson.
Just keep winning! Go cats!
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