The Senior Night win moves Kentucky’s home record to 18-0 this season, the 14th time the Wildcats have been undefeated in Rupp Arena, and the sixth time under head coach John Calipari.
Kentucky improves to 24-6 (13-4) and closes the regular season on Saturday at Florida. The SEC Tournament is set for March 9-13th at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Graduate transfers Kellan Grady (Davidson) and Davion Mintz (Creighton) both participated in Senior Night activities and finished with nine and eight points, respectively.
Both have been key performers this season as Grady currently leads the SEC in three-point shooting percentage at 47.3% and has started every game this season. Mintz, who led the Wildcats in scoring during the 2020-21 season, is averaging 10 point per game in SEC action and recently had a career high 21 points against Vanderbilt.
Oscar Tshiebwe led the 7th-ranked Wildcats with 18 points and 15 rebounds, his 24th double-double of the season. Wheeler finished with 16 points and seven assists.
Kentucky got off to a fast start and led 15-6 after Mintz nailed a three-pointer to cap a 10-0 run with 14:18 left in the first half. Ole Miss then cut into the lead at 24-18 before Mintz hit another three with 3:20 remaining in the half to cap a 12-2 run for a 42-29 advantage.
The Rebels responded with their own 6-0 run before TyTy Washington picked up a loose ball and found Wheeler for a layup as the Wildcats led 44-35 at the break.
Kentucky hung tough in the second half and finished the game shooting 50% from the field (29/58) and 38.9% (7/18) from behind the arc.
Several options for Game MVP, including Tshiebwe, who continues his climb up the single-season rebounding list in his quest for National Player of the Year honors. Mintz and Grady both played well enough to be the sentimental choice for Co-MVP as each hit key shots in their final home appearance.
However, with the postseason just around the corner, the Cats need production out of point guard Sahvir Wheeler, and that’s exactly what they got on Tuesday against the Rebels.
Wheeler, a career 27% shooter from three-point range, nailed his first two attempts in the first half and has hit 10 of his last 19. He also finished with seven assists, making sure to feed Tshiebwe a healthy dose of passes in the post to keep the big man active.
The 5-foot-9 guard also has a knack for weaving his way in and out of traffic and getting easy baskets at the rim. After missing time due to injury, it was great seeing Wheeler at what looked to be 100% health tonight.
Another bright spot on Tuesday was the play of TyTy Washington, who had his best game after returning from injury with 14 points and three steals. Both guards appear to be getting closer to full strength just in time for the SEC Tournament and a run through March Madness.