The Kentucky Wildcats went back on the road for an SEC matchup against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
For the second straight game, the Cats were without Sahvir Wheeler who is still dealing with the neck injury he suffered against LSU.
With Wheeler out, the point guard duties once again fell on the shoulders of TyTy Washington. And like we saw against Georgia, he did a fantastic job running the show.
The Cats were very efficient on the offensive end of the floor, shooting 52.5% from the field and 50% from the three-point line en route to a 78-66 win, improving to 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the SEC.
TyTy Washington: With Wheeler out, Washington has been tasked with being the point guard in the last two games. In those games, he has broken the single-game assists record and led them to a road victory over Vanderbilt.
Washington did a little more scoring than facilitating against the Commodores as he finished with 15 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, a steal, and a block.
Of note, after Kentucky went up by 28 with 6:14 to go, John Calipari ran out a lineup with Bryce Hopkins, Jacob Toppin and Daimion Collins, which gave up a 9-0 run in the span of 74 seconds. That's not super surprising with that grouping.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) January 12, 2022
Davion Mintz: It was a rough start to the season for Mintz, but he has found his confidence in the last three games and is finally looking like the player we all expected him to be this season.
He got the start in place of Wheeler against the Commodores and did exactly what we needed him to do…make shots. He finished with 9 points on 3-5 shooting from three which is exactly what we need from him. He also added 2 assists and 2 rebounds.
Keion Brooks: Brooks is really understanding his role with this team and this was an example of his best traits being on display. Brooks doesn’t have to be a double-digit scorer every night he just needs to defend, rebound, make smart passes, and hustle. He did all of those things in this one.
Oscar Tshiebwe: As if Tshiebwe’s stock could get any higher than it already is. But in this one he showed off just how much his offensive game has evolved as he is now a legitimate threat in the post and from mid-range.
In this one he finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, a block, and an assist. There is no doubt that Tshiebwe should be in the running for National Player of the Year.
Bryce Hopkins: We heard a lot of positive things about Hopkins during the preseason, but we have yet to really see him play at high level. When he is in the game, he looks uncomfortable and turns it over when he is forced to handle the ball.
I believe the future is very bright for Hopkins, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see his minutes to drop as the season progresses and Wheeler comes back from his injury.
Daimion Collins: It’s hard to finish a game with a -13 in the +/- department, but that’s what Daimion Collins managed to do in limited playing time tonight. He missed both of his shots and gave almost no resistance on the defensive end, which led to Oscar Tshiebwe being put back in the game late after it looked like his night was done after the Cats went up 28. Collins has a long way to go before he’s ready to give Kentucky good minutes against legitimate Power 5 teams.
Calipari’s rotations: We are starting to see it every game. Kentucky starts with three guards on the floor, they build a good lead, and then Cal goes to a lineup with three bigs and the game immediately gets close again.
I get that his hands are a little tied with Wheeler out right now, but this is something that was happening even when Wheeler was playing.
This team is at its best when we have three guards on the floor together, and we saw it in this game. Kentucky stormed out to a 22-11 lead, Cal went to three bigs and Vanderbilt immediately went on an 11-0 run to tie it. Calipari responded by going back to three guards, and Kentucky went into halftime with a 41-28 lead.