The Kentucky Wildcats tipped off their season on Sunday night, as they welcomed Missouri Western State to Lexington. It was a defensive struggle, but the Cats still cruised to a 56-38 win.
The first half went just as anyone could have guessed for the first exhibition of the season. The offense struggled overall just shooting over 40% in the half, as Jacob Toppin was the one huge bright spot on that end of the floor.
One thing that was not expected was the performance of the defense however, as they locked down the Griffons on all three levels of the floor to take a 26-18 lead into the half.
The second half proved to be much of the same on both ends of the court, until the Cats found some rhythm on offense late in the half to help pull away from the Griffons.
CJ Fredrick played up to his billing in his first action as a Cat leading all scorers with 15 points on the night. His shooting is going to be a plus as this team starts up the regular season next week especially with the offensive troubles.
One injury to come from this one was with Sahivr Wheeler, who was knocked out of the game with a right leg injury. That will be something to monitor in the coming days.
The Cats will return to action on November 3rd at 7:00 pm ET as they will host Kentucky State for their final exhibition game.
Starters for tonight's exhibition ⬇️— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 30, 2022
⚪️ Sahvir Wheeler
⚪️ Antonio Reeves
⚪️ CJ Fredrick
⚪️ Jacob Toppin
⚪️ Daimion Collins pic.twitter.com/FfItSJib9s
Open the scoring up, @cj_fredrick ➕1️⃣#GoBigBlue pic.twitter.com/yklsWNjLZf— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 30, 2022
Kentucky would have taken an embarrassing L to Miles College last year in an exhibition game had Sahvir Wheeler not put the team on his back in the second half. Almost forgot about that.— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) October 30, 2022
Ragged start for Kentucky in its exhibition opener against Missouri Western. Cats started Wheeler, Fredrick, Reeves, Toppin and Collins. Trailing 6-5 at the first media timeout. So far 2 of 6 from the field, 0 of 4 from deep, which seems unlikley to continue with Fredrick/Reeves.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 30, 2022
Sahvir’s layups are a thing of beauty— Barstool Kentucky (@BarstoolUK) October 30, 2022
With his haircut and the headband, Sahvir Wheeler looks like a tiny Oscar Tshiebwe.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 30, 2022
Cason Wallace has a block and forced a turnover in just three defensive possessions. IQ.— Mitch Brown FOX 56 (@MitchBTV_) October 30, 2022
Toppin slam! #GoBigBlue x @Jtoppin0 pic.twitter.com/NJQvlAprpO— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) October 30, 2022
Jacob Toppin’s spark to this team is irreplaceable. He can score, rebound, and defend at a high level. Going to be all-conference by the end of the season.— Tres Terrell (@TerrellTres) October 30, 2022
Ugonna Onyenso with back-to-back blocks out of bounds late in the shot clock for MWSU. Very, very interesting.— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 30, 2022
Not beautiful basketball by Kentucky in its exhibition opener against Missouri Western.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 30, 2022
HALFTIME: UK 26, MW 18. And Jacob Toppin, who is playing very well, got decked, shaken up. Ugly half-ending possession. pic.twitter.com/4J1llKM03x
Starters to open 2H: Sahvir Wheeler, Cason Wallace, CJ Fredrick, Jacob Toppin, Lance Ware— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 31, 2022
This Kentucky basketball team has a chance to be really elite Defensively— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) October 31, 2022
Offense has a long way to go…especially at the Guard spot in creating offense
I think overreacting to offensive struggles on October 30th won't do any of us any good. First time playing someone else since the Bahamas. I'm not shocked that it isn't pretty.— Brandon Ramsey (@BRamseyKSR) October 31, 2022
Need to try and be more aggressive early in shot clock. Stops haven't led to enough "easy" buckets.
Oh boy, Sahvir Wheeler goes down for the Wildcats after a hard foul.— Aaron Gershon (@agershon99) October 31, 2022
He needed to be helped off the floor.
Gotta love Oscar Tshiebwe saying on the SEC Network broadcast that Kentucky needs to rebound better.— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 31, 2022
CJ Fredrick in transition is hard to guard. His ability to stretch you out defensively puts so much pressure on teams. Imagine what it looks like when you add Oscar Tshiebwe running to the rim.— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) October 31, 2022
Take everyone off the court if Wheeler is hurt. Just shut it down for the night— Bobby Reagan (@BarstoolReags) October 31, 2022
Oscar Tshiebwe on if it's true he really wants to buy a farm in Kentucky: "I'll be honest with you guys, I've been spending time at a couple of farms here. I spent some time in a quiet place to pray. It's true. I want to buy a farm here someday in my life."— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 31, 2022
Fredrick leads Kentucky with 12 points, Toppin next with nine. Nobody else has more than five points in 30+ minutes.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) October 31, 2022
https://t.co/svmJjiDy6D pic.twitter.com/TJhAI3Bkdx— Shannon The Dude (@ShannonTheDude) October 31, 2022
and hopefully not too much longer beyond that https://t.co/WLXp6D1ZLF— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) October 31, 2022
CJ Fredrick is a human flamethrower. Now up to 15 points on 5-7 shooting, 4-5 from three— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) October 31, 2022
Find me a better shooter than CJ— Ian Teasley (@ianteasley) October 31, 2022
.@KentuckyMBB tonight had their 3rd fewest points scored ever in a full exhibition game (56), and their fewest since July 9th, 1948 against the Phillips Oilers (50) (that exhibition game was played outdoors at Stoll Field)— Corey Price (@coreyp08) October 31, 2022
I want to keep the main thing the main thing but I thought these bootleg blue Rupp Arena stickers were going away this season?— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) October 30, 2022
Kentucky is going to come up a few points shy of my 100-piece prediction. Not my best weekend for predictions.— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) October 31, 2022
Defense is going to be good with this group— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) October 31, 2022
Rebounding will be good when Oscar comes back
Offense is a work in progress for sure
Really Hope Sahvir is ok
Listen with Ryan on the Postgame
FINAL: Kentucky 56, Missouri Western 38— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 31, 2022
It was not art. And Sahvir Wheeler got hurt. Hard to know what to make of this one. pic.twitter.com/Sp7gHb3G0v
Ruoff Mortgage Wildcat Wrap Up https://t.co/eCWY3KAicf— UK Sports Network (@UKSportsNetwork) October 31, 2022
Also, how about this crazy graphic about former UK player, and current Missouri Western State Assistant Coach, Jon Hood:
October 31, 2022
High praise for @KentuckyMBB and @UKCoachCalipari in the opening statement from @CoachWMartin after the game pic.twitter.com/DYiWIkIeI4— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) October 31, 2022
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