The Kentucky Wildcats traveled down to Auburn and looked ready to play. They jumped out to an early double-digit lead against the No. 2 Auburn Tigers before things started to take a turn. Ultimately, the Wildcats picked up their fourth loss of the season with a final score of 80-71.
To be fair, Kentucky did lose TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler to injury during the game. While Wheeler would return for a while before getting re-injured in a similar play, Washington did not, and the team never looked the same without him.
The Wildcats were led by Wheeler and Kellen Grady with 17 points each, and Oscar got another double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds to go with four blocks.
While losing is always a tough pill to swallow, it is quite an ask to expect this team to win in this environment given the circumstances. Here is what you need to know from Saturday’s series of unfortunate events.
TyTy missed most of the game due to injury
We can argue all day about who the best player or most important player on this team is, but besides Oscar I would say TyTy is the last player I want to see go down. He impacts the game in so many ways, and he sets the tone with his composure.
That is why there was a collective gasp throughout the bluegrass when Washington went down in the middle of the first half. He appeared to land on Oscar Tshiebwe’s foot after he came down from making a floater. His ankle turned in a pretty disgusting way, and was helped to the locker room.
At halftime, there was an official announcement that TyTy would not be returning to the game. The long term prognosis is still unknown, but he is a vital piece of this team, and he was missed in a big way throughout this game.
Oscar struggles offensively
For the first time in a while, if ever, Oscar struggled to get going on the offensive end. He had a really hard time dealing with the length of 7-1 sophomore Walker Kessler. The defense was still there, he still put up strong rebounding numbers, but in a game where offense was tough to come by it would have been great if he was able to get a basket to stop one of the many Auburn runs.
In some ways, it is good to know that this could be a problem down the line. It is obviously something he can work on in practice, but it also helps with game planning whenever the opponent may have a giant underneath the basket.
Wheeler gets whiplashed again
In a very similar play to his injury against LSU a very weeks ago, Sahvir Wheeler was nearly knocked unconscious on a blindsided screen.
Sahvir Wheeler gonna have to fight Oscar if he keeps letting him run into brick walls #AUBvsUK #BBN pic.twitter.com/aulft00soG— Paid for Play College Sports Hour (@PaidForPlay) January 22, 2022
You can certainly argue that these types of plays should not happen, but it is also the responsibility of your teammate to tell you a screen is coming. I could not tell 100%, but it did not appear that Oscar said anything before Wheeler got his block knocked off.
Wheeler would return later in the game, but it is hard to believe he was at his best after that collision.
On to the next
Sure, we could sit and nitpick what went wrong in this game. But this was a basketball game on the road, in a hostile environment, against the No. 2 team in the country. This was going to be an uphill battle regardless. And then when TyTy and Wheeler went down, it would have taken a Herculean effort to leave Auburn with a win.
Move on, heal up, and look forward to seeing them on a neutral court at the SEC Tournament.