|November 5, 2021||7:00 pm||NCAA||2021-22|
Kentucky knew it would face an early-season challenge in November. The Cats probably didn’t expect that challenge would come on Friday against Division II Miles College.
Sahvir Wheeler sparked an second-half run as the Cats came from behind to beat Miles 80-71 at Rupp Arena. Wheeler scored six points in an 8-0 run that gave the Cats the lead after they trailed by seven at the half.
Wheeler and TyTy Washington Jr. led UK with 15 points and six assists apiece. The guards pleased UK head coach John Calipari.
“I thought Sahvir defensively was ridiculous,” Calipari said. “It’s hard to play that way for 30 minutes or more, but he did it. And I thought TyTy did some good stuff.”
Kellan Grady hit all three of his attempts from behind the arc on his way to 13 points and Jacob Toppin hit five of his seven shots on his way to 12 points.
Oscar Tshiebwe was held to four points but led all players with 12 rebounds.
Kentucky hit 31 of 63 (49.2%) from the floor in the game, including 11 of 19 (57.9%) from 3-point range. The Cats got 36 points in the paint, 27 points off the bench and 26 points off of 18 Miles turnovers.
Calipari would like to see his Cats get more from the interior players.
“We’re going to have to play better. We have to have some post presence,” Calipari said. “You guys know what I say when you have no post presence. You’ve got to be able to throw it there and get a couple easy baskets. So it’s both defensively and offensively.”
Kentucky got on the board first as Washington grabbed the tip from Tshiebwe and made a layup just two seconds into the game. However, the Golden Bears jumped out to an early lead, hitting their first five shots, including three from behind the arc. Miles led 13-4, forcing Kentucky to take a timeout with 17:31 left in the first half.
Washington would hit a three to cut it to 13-7 but Miles answered with a three from Mykayle Carter to extend the lead to 16-7. Kentucky would score the next five, on a t3 from Washington and a dunk from Toppin, to get within four, 16-12, with 12:52 left in the half.
The Cats would get within one, 17-16, on a Davion Mintz layup with 11:48 to play in the half. But Miles responded by scoring eight in a row, including a pair of threes from Roger Davis, to get the lead back to nine, 25-16, forcing another UK timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Cats responded. Wheeler scored on a driving layup, then Grady had a steal and a layup, followed by a three, to cut the deficit to 25-23 and force Miles into a timeout.
Miles had the answer once again. The Golden Bears went on an 11-2 run to take their biggest lead, 36-26, with 5:28 left in the half.
Grady did then hit back-to-back 3s to cut the deficit to 36-32. The Cats would keep chipping away at the lead and would eventually get within one, 38-37. However, the Golden Bears closed the half on an 8-2 run to lead 46-39 at the break. Miles shot a blistering 73.3% (11 of 15) from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes.
“I kept saying it: ‘Are you watching the game?’ I’m in the huddle. They haven’t made a 2. Are you watching?’ ” Calipari said. “So, we don’t drive them off the line. So, we’re closing with our hands down, and then when he goes to shoot the 3 we go like this, and as it goes over our hands we go like that and they make another 3. It was disappointing. Like, you had to be sitting there watching. How many teams are going to come in here knowing they got to make 15 3s to beat us? There’s going to be teams that are going to know, if we don’t make enough 3s we can’t beat them.”
When the second half started, Wheeler took over. He hit a 3 on his way to scoring six of Kentucky’s eight points in an 8-0 run that gave the Cats the lead, 47-46. After Miles took the lead back briefly, Wheeler scored again, this time putting UK ahead for good.
Kentucky turned a seven-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead on the strength of a 22-2 run to open the second stanza.
Miles would not go away quietly. The Golden Bears used a 7-2 run to get within eight, 63-55, with 7:47 to play. Miles would get as close as seven, 66-59, but could get no closer.
“I’m not discouraged,” Calipari said. “Probably not encouraged, but we are probably where we need to be right now. My issue is next man up. Can you play that way?”
Official Box Score
|03||WASHINGTON JR., TYTY||G||15||6-13||3-3||0-0||1||3||4||0||6||2||0||0||32||12|
|12||BROOKS JR., KEION||F||6||2-6||0-2||2-2||0||1||1||2||0||1||0||0||18||-2|
Officials: Mike Nance, Olandis Poole, Rob Rorke
Attendance: 17814Start Time: 07:02 PM ET
End Time: 09:09 PM ET
Game Duration: 2:06
Game was tied for 0:48.
Times tied: 1 Lead Changes: 4
|In the Paint||18||36|
|430 West Vine Street, Lexington, KY 40507, USA|