The Kentucky Wildcats entered Knoxville as a 9.5-point underdogs. They were not expected to hang with the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers, especially after A quick 8-0 run by the home team to start the game did the Cats no favors.
Kentucky fought back and went 22/25 from the free line, which certainly aided the comeback aspirations as they won 63-56. The Wildcats may have found a lineup that works better than any other five-man unit, and it is one that fans have wanted to see more of.
Here are the numbers from Evan Miyakawa on the lineup of Cason Wallace - CJ Fredrick - Antonio Reeves - Oscar Tshiebwe - Jacob Toppin.
One wild card play for Kentucky: employ the lineup of Wallace, Reeves, Fredrick, Toppin, and Tshiebwe, which has only played 20 possessions together but has put up absurd numbers. Keep in mind that 5-man lineup data can be pretty unreliable in small doses. Still, very intriguing. pic.twitter.com/OEwztzagc6— Evan Miyakawa (@EvanMiya) January 11, 2023
In this lineup, the team feasts off the playmaking of Cason Wallace, the five-star recruit who played point guard in high school but has transitioned to the two with Sahvir Wheeler at the one. Wheeler was out, and Wallace balled ran the show well.
Jacob Toppin has played a much larger role with transfer standouts CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves providing solid three-point shooting to space the court for National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe.
This team also has size and speed defensively to limit talented offenses, something they did well against Tennessee. Ultimately, it is likely this is a lineup Calipari analyzes and opts to use more in the coming weeks.
Let’s hope so.