The Kentucky Wildcats the Robert Morris Colonials in the home opener by a score of 100-60.
Kentucky looked great early as they went into the break up 46-30. After half, Kentucky extended the lead and dominated on their way to the feel-good win that everyone needed in win No. 1 of the new season. Kellan Grady led the way with 19 points and was one of five double-digit scoring Cats.
Next up, the Cats take on Mt. St. Mary’s in Lexington on Tuesday night.
Now, here are five things to know from the Cats’ first victory.
Jacob Toppin missed tonight’s game due to a shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of the preseason. CJ Fredrick was once again inactive, but this time, it’s apparently due to a hamstring injury unrelated to his foot injury according to Tom Leach.
Toppin is a big loss as his defense and versatility make him a better option at the four than Keion Brooks. Meanwhile, Fredrick’s shooting and floor spacing is surely missed as he completely opens up the offense at a level that no one else, other than maybe Kellan Grady, can match.
The Fredrick injuries are certainly becoming concerning, as he dealt with them all last year and into those season. But let’s hope both guys get healthy.
Oscar continues his dominance
Big O continued to show his rebounding dominance tonight. Oscar was unstoppable against Duke on the glass, and he continued that against Robert Morris with another double-double and 20-rebound performance to go with 14 points.
The big man is one of the best rebounders I’ve ever seen. He isn’t the tallest, but he’s huge and hustles like no other. When Oscar wants a rebound, he usually gets it. Kentucky expected a good year out of Tshiebwe, but they’re getting next-level production.
TyTy settled down
TyTy was obviously a headline in game one as Trevor Keels stole the show and shut him down at the same time, but he bounced back tonight. Brandon Knight, who is the most comparable player to Washington, was much the same to start his UK career, and he ended up as an underrated big-time player for the Cats.
I think TyTy will be the same way. Washington is an awesome player and scorer that’s built to succeed. One game doesn’t define him and there’s no reason to be discouraged as he showed tonight. He’s not BJ Boston, he’s the next lottery pick for UK.
Collins showing flashes
UK is a Daimion Collins away from a title. That might seem like hyperbole, but Kentucky lacks interior rim protection and Collins is perfect for that job.
The issue is Collins is raw and has a Willy Cauley-Stein vibe, but the good news is he’s much further along than Thrill was at this point. Collins has the potential to be a special talent and if he reaches it, he’s the difference between an Elite Eight or Sweet Sixteen team and a national title contender.
Oh, and Collins threw down the dunk of the year thus far.
Grady and Mintz are crucial
With CJ Fredrick out, it’s imperative that a few guys step up to spread the floor and Kellan Grady and Davion Mintz took that role in stride. Both players were lights out tonight, especially Grady as he looks like mini-Steph out there.
What separates this UK team from others in the past isn’t just the experience, it’s the fact that they have outside shooting all over the place. Kentucky can spread the floor, which has made Sahvir Wheeler and Big O hard to stop.
This is a very good Kentucky team. Don’t let the first game get you down. The Cats are top tier and a fun year awaits them.