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Everything you need to know for Wildcats vs. Panthers.

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Sea of Blue

UK Basketball vs. Kentucky Wesleyan


The long wait is over, as the Kentucky Wildcats will play their first exhibition game Friday night against the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers.

This will be the first of two exhibitions games vs. actual opponents before the ‘Cats take off for Madison Square Garden, where they will have a date with the Duke Blue Devils on Nov. 9th.

Coming off of a 9-16 season, this year has already been dubbed the “Coach Cal Revenge tour,” by some of Big Blue Nation, and it couldn’t be more fitting.

After a busy offseason that included some staff changes and as always some major roster turnover, Coach Calipari seems as fired up as ever to get this season started.

This will be the most experienced roster that UK has had since the 1957-58 season. With that experience, also comes the ability for the coaching staff to implement a new style of offense that fans have seen briefly in the Blue-White Game last week.

With such a deep team, one of the questions leading up to this game is who will be the first five to roll out onto the court. Coach Cal made it known that he has Sahvir Wheeler, TyTy Washington, and Oscar Tshiebwe as three of the five, with the other players fighting to land one of the two spots. Expect to see pairings of Kellan Grady, Davion Mintz, Keion Brooks, Bryce Hopkins and Daimion Collins get most of the run with the other three.

And while Jacob Toppin should play extensive minutes when healthy, he’s been battling a shoulder injury that led to him missing the Blue-White Game, so his status is TBA.

It’s a similar story for CJ Fredrick, one of the best shooters in college basketball and a transfer from Iowa. He’s recovering from offseason leg surgery and also missed the Blue-White Game.

Overall, this game will be a good chance to get the reps against another team instead of each other, as it will start to set a bar of what the early season expectations should be.

Kentucky Wesleyan, playing in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, comes to Rupp Arena after posting a 10-6 record last season. Known as a solid Division II program throughout the years, the Panthers will make the drive from Owensboro looking to put up a fight against the ‘Cats.

The Panthers have actually won eight national championships in men’s basketball at the Division II level, the last coming in 2001.

This year, the Panthers are led by senior guard Wyatt Battaile, who averaged 12.1 point, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game last season. Fellow senior guard Jamil Wilson averaged 8.3 ppg and led the team with 67 assists and 19 steals.

Other key players include 6-foot-11 senior center Sasha Sukhanov (6.2 ppg, 1.3 bpg) and 6-foot-6 junior forward Ben Sisson (4.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg).

The Panthers were picked to finish 7th in the G-Mac for the 2021-22 season.

Now, let’s ball.