A dominating victory over a historically great program on national television... Christmas appeared to come a week early for the Kentucky Wildcats and Big Blue Nation. Kentucky completely dismantled the North Carolina Tar Heels in blowout fashion, 98-69.
After both Ohio State and UCLA backed out of the CBS Sports Classic due to COVID protocols, the Wildcats were paired with the Tar Heels for the lone game of this year’s event in Las Vegas. While OSU would have likely presented a bit tougher task for the Wildcats, Saturday’s gameplay showed that Kentucky was ready for whoever walked through the door.
The Wildcats put together a true team effort, but no one had a better turnaround after last weekend’s loss at Notre Dame than starting point guard Sahvir Wheeler. The first-year Wildcat scored a game-high 26 points, dished out eight assists, picked off four passes and only had two turnovers. Wheeler got to the basket at will and with the Wildcats’ star center Oscar Tshiebwe in early foul trouble, he single-handedly built Kentucky’s early lead en route to their blowout win.
There isn’t any doubt that Wheeler is a true competitor and that was on full display Saturday afternoon. While he certainly led the way for head coach John Calipari, Wheeler wasn’t the only Wildcats to make his presence felt on the court. Tshiebwe managed another double-double in limited minutes, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 boards. Kellan Grady shot 6-8 from the field, scoring 18 points and pulling in six rebounds.
Kentucky out-hustled, out-rebounded, was more efficient and simply looked like the much better basketball team on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats get back to winning, improving their record to 8-2 while the Tar Heels fall to 8-3.
Here’s what Kentucky had to say following the team’s bounce-back victory via UK Athletics.