By Logan Fields
Kentucky returned to Rupp Arena on Thursday night to face the Bulldogs of South Carolina State. The Wildcats again had a sluggish start, but after about ten minutes of play they found their groove. With a final score of 106-63, the Wildcats got back in the win column and are now 3-1.
As a whole, the team shot 57% from the floor, while making 42% from three-point land. The team lived near the basket, resulting in 10 dunks as well.
In their first action at Rupp this season, Daimion Collins and Oscar Tshiebwe dominated the paint. With only 14 minutes of play Oscar had six points and seven rebounds. Collins totaled 18 minutes, adding six points, seven rebounds, and two major blocks. One of Daimion Collin’s blocks was a massive two hand block into the stands on a three-point attempt, utilizing his 7’3’’ wingspan.
Calipari added that Oscar was not intended to play tonight, but said the team lacked the post-feeding identity and wanted to get acclimated to playing with Oscar and feeding the post. Cal said that a big issue versus Michigan State was that “The team had not fed the post without Oscar in the lineup.”. In his usual unselfish self, Oscar was not supposed to play, but Cal added “Oscar chose and wanted to play” for the betterment of the team.
Lance Ware added to the big man game, shooting 6-6 from the field, most of which were dunks, while tallying two rebounds and two blocks. Calipari added that Ware sprinted and got into position and played with toughness.
Fredrick and Reeves returned to form, shooting 6-14 from three-point land. Fredrick finished with a game high 17 while getting a career high four steals, Reeves added 11, with nine of those points coming during the second half.
Cason and Sahvir split most of the game running point, with Sahvir finishing with the most minutes of the game and the best plus/minus at plus 32.
Kentucky had a very evenly distributed game, with no player reaching past 25 minutes. All 11 scholarship players touched the floor, with 12 total players scoring. It was clear that Kentucky was stronger and bigger than SC State, totaling 20 more rebounds than the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs struggled with the guards of Kentucky, having only eight assists and 12 turnovers and shooting only 24 percent from deep.
The Wildcats will play against Gonzaga at 7:30 PM on Sunday in Spokane, Washington.