The Kentucky Wildcats took home the win in their final exhibition game on Friday night, as they defeated Miles College 80-71.
As I did some research earlier this week, one thing that stood out is that since Fred Waston took over as the head coach of the Golden Bears, they have been a big-time Division II program. They have posted a 55-14 record over the last three seasons and proved they were legit tonight. His team wasn't afraid of the spotlight all throughout and especially in the first half, as they took the lead into halftime 46-39.
The first half for Kentucky was absolutely one to forget. The defense continued to show some cause for concern, and the frontcourt... well let’s just say it has to be better, or Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams of Duke are going to have a field day on Tuesday night.
Then the second half was a whole other story. Primarily the Sahvir Wheeler story.
The Georgia Bulldogs transfer provided the spark this team needed to get it together on both ends of the floor. Whether it be his on-ball pressure defensively or pushing in transition, Wheeler showed just how important and how great of a fit he is for the style this team is looking to play this season.
This team has some work to do on defense, but it pretty obvious this could be one of the better offensive teams of the Cal era. The chemistry between players is there, and they can absolutely shoot the lights out between TyTy Washington, Kellan Grady, and Dontaie Allen. Once they add in CJ Fredrick it is going to get scary. We are used to seeing slugfest defensive games since Calipari took over, but it seems that this year the theme will be to out-run their opponents.
Kentucky will head to the Big Apple as they have a date with Duke on Tuesday in Madison Square Garden. Tip off is scheduled for 9:30 pm EST.
Now, let's take a look at what twitter had to say all throughout tonight’s victory:
Miles College makes its first six shots, three of those from 3-point land, and leads UK 13-4. John Calipari takes a timeout.— Derek Terry (@DerekSTerry) November 5, 2021
Upset alert?— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) November 5, 2021
Kidding. I hope.
apparently they also rarely miss shots as well https://t.co/mbhEKnVlYN— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) November 5, 2021
The atmosphere in here is rather terrible 7 PM Friday night exhibition or not. Miles College players are about the only voices you can hear.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 5, 2021
As I expected, Miles is punching Kentucky in the mouth so far. Tried to tell everyone. These guys are no joke.— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) November 5, 2021
Evansville, I mean Richmond, I mean Miles College is off to a quick start in Rupp Arena.— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) November 5, 2021
It is going to be okay. 'Cats will settle in. Need to find a way to move the ball better offensively. Get some stops and get out in transition. Pick up the defensive intensity as well.— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) November 5, 2021
TyTy Washington is going to be a star. So smooth.— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) November 5, 2021
Dude talked trash to Toppin as soon as he got in. Next play. Dunk.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 5, 2021
Five TOs for Kentucky so far. Zero last 22 minutes of Exhibition 1. But Cats starting to settle in and match the intensity level.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) November 5, 2021
TyTy looks disgusted checking in at the table. I expect the Cats to pick things up after this timeout. (Please)— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 5, 2021
Someone should study the phenomenon that is opposing teams becoming insanely hot from three in Rupp Arena— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) November 5, 2021
Division II teams coming into Rupp Arena in November and getting hot. A tradition like no other.— Tres Terrell (@TerrellTres) November 5, 2021
Just a good picture of Davion Mintz that I know nobody cares about right now bc UK is down 28-26 to Miles College. pic.twitter.com/SN8YgT3RXu— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 5, 2021
Kellan Grady: Really good. Seems to know someone has to step up and he isn't forcing it at all. Letting it all come right to him.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) November 5, 2021
Similar to last season, it would be hard for me to take Jacob Toppin off the floor right now. He just makes plays.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 5, 2021
Miles College leads Kentucky at the half 46-39.— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) November 5, 2021
Miles shooting 73.3% from three (11-15) and 58.6% overall (17-29).
Kellan Grady leads UK with 11 points (4-5 FG, 3-3 3PT), followed by TyTy Washington with eight points, Sahvir Wheeler with seven and Jacob Toppin with six.
Cal should just sit O until the 2nd half Tuesday. His inability to stay out of foul trouble is wildly concerning.— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerRadio) November 5, 2021
Two fouls in 17 minutes ain’t terrible but last week, this week…. Career at WVU. It’s concerning.
11/15 from three seems hard to replicate.— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) November 5, 2021
I’m old enough to remember when some people didn’t want Sahvir Wheeler at Kentucky because he turned it over too much.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 6, 2021
Sahvir hoopin— Darius Miller (@DmillerKY) November 6, 2021
A big positive on a less than stellar Kentucky performance so far has been Sahvir Wheeler’s on the ball defense. He is a disruptor. Tells you how poorly the rest of the team has defended.— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) November 6, 2021
I’m miles away from worrying about a basketball exhibition game.— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) November 6, 2021
11:49 2H | UK 56, Miles College 48. Just 2 points in the half for Miles College.— Derek Terry (@DerekSTerry) November 6, 2021
I really like this pic. TyTy is everyone’s biggest cheerleader. pic.twitter.com/UTgTEpKgmr— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 6, 2021
Kentucky now showing why I have the ‘Cats as the No. 4 team in the land.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) November 6, 2021
Up 11 on D-2 power Miles College.
And would be up 30 with CJ Fredrick.
Turning up the defense pic.twitter.com/dc4CBSbkrs— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 6, 2021
I'm Sahvir-ly excited about Wheeler (sorry).— John Huang (@KYHuangs) November 6, 2021
Kentucky can definitely shoot. Question is whether Kentucky can defend. https://t.co/tlOrxByYaQ— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) November 6, 2021
Kentucky defeats Miles College 80-71 in its second exhibition game.— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) November 6, 2021
Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington lead the team in scoring with 15 points each, followed by Kellan Grady with 13 and Jacob Toppin with 12.
UK shot 49.2% overall and 57.9% from three, but 50% from the line.
Well, this does not scream “ready for prime time against Duke at Madison Square Garden in four days,” but it could’ve been worse? pic.twitter.com/O7s0ZXKqEe— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) November 6, 2021
More takeaways:— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) November 6, 2021
* Liked the effort from Sahvir Wheeler on both ends of the court
* Kellan Grady did exactly what they need for UK to have success this year
* Great first night by Jacob Toppin
* TyTy Washington will be a stud by the end of the year
Also... DUKE-KENTUCKY, Tuesday
Miles College coach Watson says UK’s length really stood out tonight, and he thinks Kentucky has more shooting than it usually does. Said you might typically plan to just defend dribble-drive, “but you really can’t do that with them anymore.”— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) November 6, 2021
"This is typical for us," Calipari says. Difference being they are usually one of the nation's youngest teams and are now one of the oldest. Still unwise to draw many conclusions imo.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) November 6, 2021
I don’t really worry much if Kentucky can’t get up for an exhibition against Miles College at home. When the lights at MSG come on we’ll know a lot more about what we got here.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 6, 2021