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3 risers and 2 fallers as Kentucky defeats LSU

The Cats secured the much-needed win in their SEC home opener.

Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats hosted their first conference game of the season, as they welcomed the LSU Tigers to Rupp Arena Tuesday evening. In what was a back-and-forth game, the Cats came out on top as they defeated the Tigers 74-71.

The Cats continued to show their revamped offense in the first half against the Tigers. Playing with pace and rhythm, it is the second consecutive game that they have shown the ability to score consistently. With some solid defense as well, the Cats took a 42-38 lead into the locker room.

The second half continued the back-and-forth trend, as LSU continually pushed back as the Cats tried to stretch a lead. Ultimately it was a timely three by Jacob Toppin, that helped push Kentucky over the top to move to 1-1 in SEC play.

Now let’s check out three risers and two fallers from the Cats' huge win.


Oscar Tshiebwe

After slowly working his way back early this season from a minor knee procedure, Oscar has returned to his NPOY self. Dominating on the glass, while regaining his strength in the post, Oscar is poised to make a major run in SEC play.

Another nice thing to see what Oscar knocking down 5/7 free throws after going 4/9 against Louisville. And while Kentucky struggled defensively in this game, Big O made plenty of great plays in that regard, including that crucial charge he drew with 30 seconds left.

As it appears this Kentucky team has shifted its offensive philosophy, and rightfully so, Oscar is playing a huge role. If the Cats hope to make a run it’s going to be with their best player carrying the load.

Sahvir Wheeler

One of the more polarizing players to the UK fanbase is proving once again why he has to be on the floor.

Yes, he can get out of control at times, but it’s obvious he has the ability to dictate the pace of each trip up the court. Add in a fairly consistent jumper from three so far this season — he’s not hit 8/14 from deep over his last five games — Wheeler’s stock is rising on this team.

Jacob Toppin

After rough few games to end non-conference play, Jacob Toppin has found his game over these last two wins.

During the summer’s Bahamas tour, Toppin was arguably the best player throughout the whole trip. It was obvious that he was poised for a huge jump once the regular season started. Well, that jump seems to be happening before our eyes.

UK will need this trend to continue as they start the gauntlet of a schedule they have here in January.


Three-point defense

In what has been a strong suit all season, the Cats struggled to contain KJ Williams and Adam Miller from deep to help keep the Tigers in the game.

Now, obviously have to give some props to Miller and Williams for knocking them down, but with the game changing as it has and so many players being able to knock down the three, Kentucky will have to tighten it up as conference play continues.

Role players

It became very obvious tonight that coach Calipari is shortening his rotation. For example in the second half, he did not sub anyone out until the under-8 media timeout.

Players such as Antonio Reeves, Daimion Collins, Lance Ware, and CJ Fredrick are all going to be key pieces at some point in the rest of this season. But, it is obvious they will need to shine to earn some more minutes at this point.