The Kentucky Wildcats beat the Bahamas National Team on Sunday afternoon by a score of 98-74 in their final game on the Big Blue Bahamas Tour.
This one wasn't easy as the veteran Bahamas squad put up a good fight for the majority of the game as Kentucky struggled to make shots and defend. At one point in the first half, it looked as if they may even pull away, but UK kept the game in reach, fought back, and finally made a couple of big runs before putting it away for good.
This was a good final test for the Cats as their Bahamas Tour comes to an end. While UK dominated their first three opponents, John Calipari had to be happy with the way his team responded in this one.
Football season is right around the corner, but this trip had to make BBN excited for what they can expect for the upcoming basketball season. Kentucky will open the season against the Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic, and it can’t get here soon enough!
Rest day for CJ Fredrick
CJ Fredrick transferred to Kentucky from Iowa last spring, but he's yet to play a game for the Cats. After recovering from a foot injury that lingered from his time at Iowa, he then tore his hamstring last offseason and never made his way back to the court.
Fredrick is seemingly healthy now and that’s music to Cats fans’ ears. The junior guard was somewhat limited during this trip, but just seeing him play was a positive. Unfortunately, we did not get to see him in Sunday’s contest as the Kentucky basketball Twitter account tweeted that he would not play today due to load management.
The Athletic’s Kyle Tucker confirmed that Fredrick didn't injure himself and there was nothing wrong other than a guy who hasn't played in a year and a half playing three games in three days. Four game in four days was probably just too much to expect, so no need to be concerned.
The nation’s top three-point shooter will be a very important piece for this year’s team.
Finally some adversity
As fun as it is to watch your favorite college team dominate grown men in the offseason, it was nice to see a team that could actually put up a fight.
The Cats’ average margin of victory in their first three games was 57.8 points. Yes, you read that right. They trailed for a total of 24 seconds and led for 115 of 120 minutes played. It was great to see, but we all wanted to see a little more competition, right?
Kentucky could not get away with the sloppiness they had gotten away with in the first three games because the Bahamas team took advantage of their mistakes. Now, it’s probably fair to assume the guys had heavy legs. This was in fact their fourth game in four days on top of all the other activities they had been doing down in the Bahamas.
No excuses, though, and this team fought back when things got dicey. In the first half, UK was down by as many as 8 points, but they buckled down and went on 9-0 run to retake the lead. However, the Bahamas team did not back down, either, as they retook the lead with five seconds to play before the break. However, Sahvir Wheeler took the ball coast to coast on the inbounds and made a layup at the buzzer to take the lead for good.
After struggling to score and defend in the first half, the Cats caught fire after the break and eventually were able to pull away.
Antonio Reeves can light it up
I’m as big of a Davion Mintz fan as there is because I loved his fight and his grit and his never-back-down mentality. But I’d be lying if I said Antonio Reeves isn't a better player and the perfect veteran replacement.
Reeves transferred to Kentucky this spring from Illinois State where he absolutely dominated. It was fair to wonder how Reeves would fare against better competition, but he looked the part on this trip.
The junior guard just scores and he does so in bunches. After an impressive 23-point showing on Saturday night that saw the 6-6 guard hit five three-pointers, Reeves once again lit it up in this one.
After a somewhat slow start, Reeves hit four straight threes in the second half, which really helped the Cats pull away in the second half. He isn't afraid to let it fly and he has a beautiful stroke. The best part is that he can also handle the ball, attack the rim, and has immense potential on the defensive side with his length and athleticism.
Sahvir Wheeler heard the noise
Despite leading the country in assists two seasons ago and finishing as a Bob Cousy award finalist last season, Sahvir Wheeler has received a lot of criticism for his limitations as Kentucky’s starting point guard.
After how well Cason Wallace has played on this trip, it seemed as if he might be the better option running the point. Not in December or March, but right now. Wheeler must have heard the noise because he stepped up in a big way in this one.
Wheeler provided a steady, veteran presence when UK needed it badly on Sunday. He controlled the game, didn't play out of control, and got to the rim at will. Of course, Wheeler takes the occasional questionable jump shot, but he provides so many positives despite his obvious limitations.
Wheeler isn't perfect and Wallace may even be a better overall player, but he’s going to play and UK will only go as far as he can take them.